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Noel's Did You Know? - The Istana - #002

The Istana is the official office of the President of Singapore and Prime Minister of Singapore. Istana is a Malay word and it means "palace". So yeah, our President Tony Tan's office is a palace. How grand for a man that's paid millions to wave and sit alone at the National Day Parade!

In 1867, the British colonial government started building the Istana and it was completed in 1869. It is interesting to note that the Istana was built by convict labour. Meaning, prisoners built the Istana! However, the building was initially named 'Government House' and the Singapore government renamed it 'The Istana' in 1959.

Besides housing then British governers Sir Harry Saint George Ord, Sir Frederick Weld, Sir Shenton Thomas and Lady Daisy Thomas, Field Marshal Count Terauchi and Major General Kawamura from the Japanese Army occupied the Istana as well.

The present Istana has a nine-hole golf course, lily ponds, a swimming pool that Mr Lee Kuan Yew uses regularly, a reception hall, banquet hall, offices for the president, prime minister and senior ministers and many other rooms for official events.

For more information on the Istana, please visit

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