Only Yusof Ishak has ever resided in the Istana, other presidents lived in their own homes

Seems like the East is the most popular spot for our presidents.

By Joshua Lee | September 14, 2017

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that Yusof Ishak had resided in the Istana.

Halimah Yacob is set to become Singapore’s first female President, and also the first to be living in an HDB flat (technically two flats) while in office.

But doesn’t the President live in the Istana?

Via Wikipedia.

While the Istana is the official residence of the President of Singapore, none of our presidents have ever lived in it, except Yusof Ishak.

The current Istana that we see today was constructed in October 1869, and was called Governor’s House. It was the official residence of 21 colonial governors during Singapore’s time under British rule.

However since Benjamin Sheares took office in 1971, no other president has lived in the Istana.

They used the Istana as their office, and a place to welcome and host dinners for foreign dignitaries such as former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and then U.S. President George Bush in 1992.

Deng Xiaopeng meeting President Benjamin Sheares in 1978. Source: Istana
U.S. President George Bush at the Istana in 1992. Source: NAS

So, where did our Presidents live, if they didn’t reside in the Istana?

Let’s take a look.

Yusof Ishak

Yusof was the only one among our past presidents who lived in the Istana.

But for trivia’s sake, he also had a home in Opera Estate — a landed property locale in Bedok.

Read: S’pore’s first President Yusof Ishak was a champion weightlifter
Read: 12 things to know about the man whose face we see every day

Via NAS.

Benjamin Sheares

Sheares and his family lived on Holt Road. According to Infopedia, while Sheares held the highest office in Singapore, he always returned home daily for lunch and dinner.

Read: 10 things to know about Benjamin Sheares, because he has 5 medical degrees and a medical procedure named after him

Via NAS.

Devan Nair

Unfortunately despite our best efforts, we could not find out the location of Devan Nair’s private home.


Wee Kim Wee

Wee famously said that he would not be able to sleep in a place as huge as the Istana, instead choosing to stay in his Siglap Plain home.

Via NAS.

Ong Teng Cheong

Singapore’s first popularly elected President stayed in a bungalow designed by famed architect Frank Brewer in Dalvey Estate. His architect firm Ong and Ong did the restoration work on the house.

Read: 1st popularly elected president Ong Teng Cheong was ridiculously photogenic in his prime

Via NAS.
Ong Teng Cheong’s home at No.1 Dalvey Estate. Via NAS.

S R Nathan

Nathan lived in a house along Ceylon Road.

Via NAS.

He was a frequent visitor to the nearby East Coast Park, which led to this one time where he agreed to photobomb a couple’s wedding photoshoot, to their delight.

Tony Tan

We are not too sure where exactly Tan’s home is, but it seems like he has at least two residences.

AsiaOne reports indicate that he has houses at Greendale Avenue and Emerald Hill.

Via NAS.

Halimah Yacob

Singapore’s eighth President has announced that she will continue to live in her five-room HDB flat in Yishun Avenue 4.

Via Mothership


Top image via Wikipedia.

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