50 Singaporeans, on turning 50

50 Singaporeans from all walks of life talk about how it feels to be half a century old like Singapore.

1. Mr Wong Kim Sung

• Born Dec 27

• Director of public area department at Marina Bay Sands

• Married with two children

"Other than the receding hairline, I actually feel great turning 50.

I exercise more, eat healthier and spend quality time with my family and friends.

I don't sweat the small stuff anymore, my mind is calmer and I laugh more often as I see things differently.

Though there are still dreams that I hope to fulfil, such as going on an island retreat with my wife and improving my singing so that I can serenade her, material things that I've longed for when I was in my 30s and early 40s - such as owning a big house, a nice car and branded things - don't seem to matter anymore.

What matters is all the lifelong friendships I've made and strong support from my friends and colleagues.

My fondest memories are of the births of my two sons and watching my wife give birth to them. They are now 18 and 16 years old.

I realise that more people are calling me uncle nowadays. But I really don't feel old. We are only as old as we feel."


2. Madam Noorhijah Ismail

• Born April 4

• Assistant retail supervisor at Mount Faber Leisure Group

• Has three children

"Usually, my three sons, aged 30, 24 and 22, and daughters-in-law will cook or take me to restaurants for a birthday meal and get me a birthday cake.

This year, my children will be surprising me with a special birthday celebration. I do not know what's up their sleeves, but I am excited .

 My children are very filial and give me pocket money every month.

I'm also grateful to have a granddaughter to keep me company.

Next 50 years? That is too long for me to imagine. But I hope to have more grandchildren and for all my children and grandchildren to stay by my side when I retire .

In the meantime, I am very happy at work. Whenever customers see me at the retail shop and remember or acknowledge me, I feel extremely contented.

Sometimes, overseas guests bring me mementos such as bookmarks and key chains from their home countries and it warms my heart."


3. Mr Kevin Tan Keng Lay

• Born Oct 26

• Line instructor pilot with Singapore Airlines

• Married with one child

"I was born and grew up in a kampung in Lorong Chuan.

It was a difficult environment - it was so easy to skip school - and I could have been easily led astray if not for the strict discipline instilled by my parents.

I remember the hard work and perseverance I put in during the nine months when I was in the command training programme in 2012.

Without the discipline instilled in me, I would have given up a long time ago.

This discipline also pushed me towards achieving excellence in athletics. I was part of a four-man relay team that represented Singapore at the Asia Masters Athletic Championship in Taipei three years ago. We made many sacrifices to train for the event and we won the 4x100m relay.

There is nothing special that I wish for, except to be able to grow with Singapore, stay healthy and lead an active lifestyle, as well as share my knowledge and experiences with my junior colleagues.

I'm very thankful to my parents for providing me with a proper education and teaching me the right values."


4. Madam Daphne Lim

• Born May 28

• Housewife

• Married with two children

"Turning 50 just means I am a year older from last year. I try not to make a big deal out of it, as age is just a number. I am still very young at heart.

I try to have a healthy lifestyle by eating healthily and attending Zumba dance classes twice a week.

My husband and I also make an effort to have family dinners on weekends with our two sons, as everyone is very busy with his own life on weekdays.

I am very happy and proud to be born here.

My friends from Hong Kong and China envy the fact that we get to learn many languages here and that people of different races are able to live harmoniously together.

These are on top of other things to be thankful for, including having homes surrounded by greenery, a high standard of cleanliness and an efficient transport system."


5. Rayson Tan

• Born Jan 12

• MediaCorp actor

• Married with one child

"In my life, there are two periods which I hold dear. The first is my childhood, growing up in a one- room HDB flat in Jalan Tenteramin the Whampoa area. Although my family was poor, I led a happy, carefree life, playing with the neighbours' children .

My older brother and I were very good at games such as kuti kuti, hide-and-seek and games with rubber bands. We once won so many rubber bands from the neighbours' children that we ended up selling them.

The second period was after 1989, when I entered the entertainment industry. I love learning about different things through the roles I take on.

Over more than 25 years in the business, I've played heroes and villains in any setting imaginable - a courtroom, a hospital, in ancient China when I'm acting in period dramas.

And of course, I met my beautiful wife Chen Liping through acting and we now have a son, aged 13.

I hope to continue honing my craft. You can learn how to control your voice, body language and deliver a scene in so many ways - it's an endless process."


6. Mr William Tan

• Born Sept 29

• Managing director of food manufacturing company Hock Lian Huat Foodstuff Industry

• Married with two children

"I feel like I'm stuck at age 30 - I'm still playful and love joking around. My laugh is loud and infectious and my wife and kids say I sometimes behave like a young child.

Perhaps it is because I have found purpose and happiness in life through my work.

My company, a family business, was started in 1928 by my grandfather Tan Gim Teh, who came here from Xiamen, China.

I feel like I'm stuck at age 30 - I'm still playful and love joking around... Perhaps it is because I have found purpose and happiness in life through my work. ''

MR WILLIAM TAN

I'm the third generation and we now have 30 workers.

My father, Tan Ah Lay, took over the business in 1964. I'm happy we have kept the family business alive for 86 years.

What's next? Hopefully, my business will be even more successful and do more for our country."


7. Ms Melvis Cheng

• Born July 17

• Senior beauty therapist with cosmetics and fragrance distributor Luxasia

• Married with two children

"I feel very blessed and privileged to be born the same year that Singapore achieved independence.

Every year, I have two birthday celebrations, one with my family and another with my friends.

The family celebration usually involves dinner at a restaurant, followed by cake at home. It's simple but satisfying.

With my friends, we usually go to a pub for some drinks and sing songs together.

I've spent half of my life as a beautician, but my passion for the job continues to burn.

As a child, I watched my grandmother do facial threading for others in our house. People left our home looking happy, with smiles on their shining, glowing faces.

I told myself that when I grow up, I want to be a woman who makes other people beautiful.

So all these years, that desire has kept me going. Some of my customers have become my friends.

I hope to continue the next 50 years of my life looking good and helping others to feel young and beautiful."


8. Mr Abdul Halim Siran

• Born March 22

• Postman with Singapore Post

• Married with one child

"I've been a postman for more than 31 years and I have never thought of quitting. Why? Because it's great to deliver letters and parcels to people and see the smiles on their faces. Who doesn't like to receive mail?

I remember delivering letters to kampungs. Back then, there were fewer places to deliver to and many of the letters were handwritten.

Nowadays, we deliver to more places and the addresses are mostly printed on the envelopes.

There is also a lot more registered mail because more people are shopping online and we have to deliver their goods to them.

I still ride a motorcycle to deliver mail.

Two years ago, I was awarded Best Postman of the Year and I consider the award to be priceless because it shows that the company recognises my efforts.

Looking ahead, I want to continue serving my country and contribute to Singapore's growth."


9. Mr Rambindan Tiwari

• Born Aug 23

• Police officer

• Married with two children

"I am really proud that I have served in the Singapore Police Force for the past 31 years since I joined in May 1984.

My late father was the one who encouraged me to join the police force. He was in the British army himself and instilled discipline in my siblings and me.

Career aside, the fondest moment of my life was the day I first became a father in January 1995.

I wrote a card thanking my beloved wife for giving me a lovely boy whom I call Superman.

I hope Singapore will prosper and scale greater heights in the next 50 years.

I want my descendants to continue to enjoy the peace, harmony and progress that we have so far."


10. Mr Samsuri Mohd

• Born May 31

• Training coordinator at professional services firm PwC Singapore

• Married with three children

"Although I'm not very good at studying - I have only O-level qualifications - I like to pick up new skills and be constantly challenged.

I have worked in various logistics and service companies, doing whatever needed doing. But somehow the work didn't feel right for me.

It was only after I joined PwC in 1998 that I found the opportunities to develop myself.

After four years of doing administrative work, I joined the learning and development department, which is responsible for training PwC staff, in 2002. I like working with instructors and participants, and building rapport with them.

Last year, I received my Long Service Award and I'm very proud of these achievements.

Looking ahead, I'm excited to see what kind of changes Singapore will go through in the next 50 years.

People used to tell me that if you don't study, your life will be a waste and it will be hard to find success. But the truth is that as long as you work hard and make use of the opportunities around you, you can have a good career."


11. Ms Gormit Kaur

• Born June 5

• Deputy director, nursing, Singapore General Hospital

• Married with four children

"I was a nursing student from 1982 and officially became a nurse in 1985, so this year marks more than 30 years in this profession.

The healthcare industry has progressed extensively. As a student nurse, I remember rinsing out the mercury thermometers and changing the cotton swabs and printol - a type of disinfectant not in use anymore - for the thermometers. Now, we use tympanic thermometers with disposable ear pieces and all loose sterile instruments are supplied from a central source in the hospital.

When I was a nursing student doing night duty in the orthopaedic ward at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, a young female patient fell from a ward two floors above and landed on the side ledge of the window.

I climbed over the window ledge, spoke to her and reassured her until help arrived. She sustained an open fracture of the shoulder joint from the accident.

About five years later, when I was working in Singapore General Hospital, this same patient was admitted for another condition. She recognised me and said to me, 'Thank you for saving my life.'

I'm still very passionate about nursing. The learning never stops."


12. Ms Abegail Chew Gin-Ai

• Born Oct 6

• Head of communications and events management at the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive  Employment Practices

• Married with two children

"I am happy. I have a loving family, a supportive husband and two beautiful daughters who are my greatest pride and joy. I have great friends and many of them are like family to me.

My organisation promotes fair and inclusive workplace practices and I help to drive this effort. The work keeps me grounded, opens up my mind to different perspectives and I can make a difference to people's lives .

I hope to throw a 50th birthday party, with a live band to play my favourite tunes, and have my family and friends celebrate it with me.

I've started a 50th birthday photo album. It will include photos of me with my family and friends at different stages of my life."


13. Mr Mohamad Yusoff Karimoon

• Born Jan 15

• Technical supervisor at SBS Transit

•Married with two children

"When I turned 50 in January, I had a simple celebration with my family at a Swensen's outlet in Tampines.

That was all I wanted - a happy, peaceful home.

My wife, Maslinah, and I have raised a son, Muhammad Ikhtiaruddin, 24, and a daughter Sharifah Nur Raudah, 22. Both of them will be completing their university studies soon and my greatest hope is that they make a good living and lead a happy life.

My wife and I now have more time to spend with each other and to do things such as go on holidays.

Age may be catching up, but it is essential to continue learning to stay relevant. That's why I recently took courses in electronics and computer systems."


14. Ms Tabitha Tan

• Born Jan 30

• Head of Great Eastern's change implementation department

• Married with three children

"For my 50th birthday celebration, we stayed at home and my daughter, Amberle, 18, cooked some of my favourite foods, such as yong tau foo and curry chicken.

I am in a team that translates the product ideas and services of the organisation to fulfil the needs of our policyholders. When changes in processes and products are implemented - and people benefit from them - my team and I feel an immense sense of fulfilment.

The last 50 years have left me with many great moments, particularly giving birth to my youngest daughter, Ruth, seven years ago.

Not many women have children at that age, but we had been trying for more than 10 years for a third child. I also have a son, David, 20."


15. Mr Tan Whee Boon

• Born April 23

• Production technician at Soxal, a company that provides industrial gas

• Married with two children

"I believe that in Singapore, there are tons of opportunities to build a meaningful career. You just need to take the initiative.

I've been working at Soxal since 2000, manning a plant that produces nitrogen and oxygen for industrial purposes. Every week, I put in three or four 12-hour shifts.

I was a welder in a shipbuilding company for about 15 years. Back then, I fused metal parts together using an open flame. There was always the risk of getting burnt and companies were not as strict in their safety precautions then. So my then girlfriend, now wife, persuaded me to quit.

I've also worked at a bakery and as a salesman selling renovation services.

I'm glad to have learnt something from each of these jobs and each stint has helped to make me the person I am today."


16. Dr Ridzuan Abd Rahim

• Born Sept 18

• Senior assistant director, mathematics and lead specialist at the Ministry of Education

• Married with three children

"I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the education sector, in particular, teaching and developing programmes.

When we compare our curriculum and what our teachers are doing with those in many other countries, I can't help but feel so much pride in what we have achieved.

I would like to think I have played a part, even if it is very small, in contributing to this success.

Personally, I want to keep fit so that I can cycle the whole of Singapore using the park connectors when the links are all completed."


17. Madam Huang Ying

• Born Dec 3

• Head of Chengzhu Mandarin Centre

• Married with one child

"I have been teaching for 30 years and have witnessed how early childhood education has steadily improved in its professionalism. There is now more emphasis on individual needs and different ways of learning, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Having dedicated my working life to educating children, I hope to go on advancing in this area and inspire in young ones a love of learning Mandarin and Chinese culture.

My full-time career aside, I regard motherhood as my biggest achievement. Balancing work and home life is always a challenge, but time with my 10-year-old son, Jim, is vital. I hope he will grow up a happy person who possesses ethical principles."


18. Mr Jamaludin Karmani

• Born July 10

• Prison officer with the Singapore Prison Service

• Married with two children

"In my life, the most important people are my wife, Norliza, 44, my son, Muhammad Dzulfaiz, 20, and my daughter, Nur Syahirah, 19.

My family understands the nature of my work and the unique challenges that I face.

I devote most of my free time to my family. I thoroughly enjoy every moment spent with them, such as family excursions or meals.

If you ask me, a family that talks is a family that stays together.

Whatever I do, I want to make the most important people in my life - my family - proud."


19. Ms Isabelle Seah Mui Kiau

• Born Aug 1

• Administrative executive at SPD, an organisation which helps people with disabilities

• Married with two children

"I've led a happy life so far. I have an electronics degree, studied in France for two years, visited parts of Europe and tried skiing.

I have a son, 15, and a daughter, 11. I used to work in the consumer sector for 22 years, but took a four-year break in the late 2000s to bond with my children.

I've been with SPD for 21/2 years and my time here has been fulfilling as I watch clients with disabilities benefit from our services and become more independent.

There are still a lot of things I want to do. I have not seen many parts of the world and I hope to travel with my family.

For my birthday, I will be having lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Clarke Quay.

We visited the same restaurant for my birthday last year and we love the food there."


20. Ms Malliga Jasmine

• Born April 5

• Tutor with Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda)

• Single mother with four children

"I've been a single mother for the past 14 years. There've been a lot of hurdles I've had to overcome.

When my marriage dissolved, I held up to three jobs at a time to make ends meet and support my four children. I worked almost every day - as a bus driver, childcare teacher and odd-job worker.

Time has been a great healer, and I'm thankful that my children are settled.

I've been asking myself if there's anything I've left undone. I dream of establishing a tuition centre to help underprivileged families and under-achievers.

I am living a full, engaged life now and I've learnt to cherish not just each birthday, but also every day. I want to be 50 and fabulous."


21. Mr Frankie Tan

• Born Dec 6

• Senior manager in compliance advisory and assurance at Prudential Singapore

• Married with two children

"There are still so many things that I want to try or do, such as take my family on overseas trips to explore and experience new places.

I have just completed arrangements for a trip to Europe with my family at the end of this year.

I have two daughters, aged 13 and 11, with my wife, Mei Ling. I enjoy watching my children grow up and being involved in their lives.

I want to continue to enjoy simple things such as going for a jog with my family.

I hope to keep learning and remain useful and relevant in my career, as well as see my children develop into unique individuals."


22. Mr Abdul Wahid Badron

• Born Sept 19

• Head of department for physical education and co-curricular activities at West Grove Primary School

• Married with five children

"If I do anything different for my birthday this year, it would be to walk from Abdul Hamid Mosque in Gentle Road to my home - an HDB executive apartment flat in Woodlands - which is 30km away.

The mosque was built on land provided by my late great-grandfather and I grew up in that area.

Walking from my old home to my new one will symbolise how I have moved from my humble beginnings to where I am now.

Sit-ups? Standing broad jump? Sit and reach? No problem.

''MR ABDUL WAHID BADRON

Walking is the simplest form of exercise and that is how I have been keeping fit since my second spinal surgery in 2008.

Because I keep fit, I have been told on many occasions that I don't look my age and I feel weird when people call me 'uncle'. I don't feel old.

I am surrounded by bubbly schoolchildren every day and I feel just as youthful as them.

I can still demonstrate how to do a forward roll during PE class.

Sit-ups? Standing broad jump? Sit and reach? No problem."


23. Mr Daniel Boey

• Born Dec 19

• Fashion director

• Single

"My 50th year is an opportunity to look back on my achievements and failures, and also take stock of my life - its physical and spiritual aspects, my friendships, relationships and values.

I have had many wonderful opportunities and I am thankful to have had a chance to build a successful career and business.

"It is, however, not the end of a journey, but the beginning of a new adventure, as I ponder what the next few decades have in store for an older and, hopefully, wiser me."


24. Mr Paul Tan

• Born Dec 4

• Managing director of accounting firm CA Trust Pac

• Married with two children

"I lived with my parents and sister in a one-room HDB flat in Toa Payoh in the 1970s. My mother was a housewife and my dad was a salesman who sold aluminium steel to building contractors.

In the 1980s, we upgraded to a three-room HDB flat and, later, a four-room one, both in Ang Mo Kio.

I now live with my wife, Angela, and our two grown-up sons in a semi-detached house in Seletar Hills.

One of my proudest moments was when I attained my professional qualification from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in 1990. I own and manage a public accounting practice employing more than 60 professionals.

As I've spent a large part of my life building my career, in the coming years, I hope to take things slow and have time to smell the roses. I also hope to have more time for my family and loved ones."


25. Madam Noormah Othman

• Born April 16

• General manager at logistics company YCH Group

• Married with three children

"This year will mark my 50th birthday and my 25th work year with YCH Group, so it's a multiple celebration of sorts. One of my proudest career moments was successfully implementing a pioneering project, where I played a major role in establishing a distribution network in Indonesia for a major client.

But as I turn 50, my focus in life has shifted. When I was younger, I had a rather materialistic mindset. I collected bags, watches and jewellery. I also bought several properties and investments hoping to leave them to my children.

As I grew older, I began to question why I was collecting so many material possessions. What good will they do? And after I die, what will I say when I meet my maker?

Nowadays, I want to get closer to my religion and lead a more humble life. I want to look beyond myself and towards contributing more to society.

Last year, after Malaysia was hit by floods, I raised more than RM10,000 (S$3,600) to help families whose homes were destroyed.

Hopefully, this will make a difference to the world."


26. Mr Christopher Lau

• Born Jan 21

• Deputy manager of system sales at Ademco Security Group

• Married with one child

"I was asked while in my final year in King College (now King University) in the United States if I'd try to get a Green Card and stay in the US after my graduation.

My immediate reply was 'no'. I wanted to return to Singapore. That may have seemed like a missed opportunity, but I have never regretted my decision.

As a Singaporean living with partial disability of polio in my right leg, I consider myself fortunate to have been given equal opportunities in education and employment.

Looking for my first job in the 1980s was not without its challenges. But after countless attempts and with sheer determination, I managed to secure a job.

This year is also significant to me because I became a father to my daughter Clarissa. I live life with a joyful heart, a positive mindset and with the Christian faith, and I hope to leave this legacy with her."


27. Ms Patricia Lin

• Born Feb 25

• Equities dealer at RHB Securities

• Married with two children

"I feel excited and happy on turning 50 as I consider it a milestone and a blessing to be able to live for 50 years. I also feel special that I was born in the same year as Singapore's independence.

Until I was 12, I lived with my mother, six siblings and a nanny in a rented shophouse above a provision shop in Braddell Road. My neighbours left their doors open and I walked in and out of their houses whenever I wanted.

On weekends, my nanny would take my sister and me to her mother's kampung home in Punggol. There, we played hide-and- seek and plucked rambutans from trees, while the women cooked.

Food in those days was all handmade and really yummy. There were ice balls coated with gula melaka and kacang puteh. Life then was simple and carefree."


28. Mr Paul Cheong

• Born Feb 22

• Regional health, safety and environment manager at RS Components, a company that distributes electronics and industrial components and tools

• Married with two children

"One of the best memories of my life is meeting my wife while we were Singapore Polytechnic students. We were 17 and dated for eight years before getting married.

She is the best wife one could have. She was supportive when I needed to travel for work frequently during our first three years of marriage, even just days after our first child was born.

She has been a great manager of the family, taking charge of weekly marketing and managing our children's welfare on top of her work as a management staff in the retail industry.

I'd like to give more back to society through doing more volunteer work. I've been involved in volunteer work with children, senior citizens and the disabled."


29. Ms Carol Toh Kim Wah

• Born Aug 1

• Deputy service manager at DBS Bank, Marina Bay Sands branch

• Married with no children

"Time flies, but my heart is young. To celebrate this milestone, I went on a trip in April with five schoolmates from my secondary school - Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary - who are all turning 50 too.

We went to Taipei for five days. It was the first time we've travelled together in more than 15 years. We took many photos. When we saw how we've changed over the years, we had a good laugh.

Being able to serve others and put a smile on their faces brings me a great amount of satisfaction.

I hope to stay youthful at heart and be healthy.

To celebrate my birthday, I will be having dinner with my friends on July 25.

I had hoped to attend this year's National Day Parade rehearsal, which falls on the day of my birthday. Unfortunately, I was not successful in the balloting."


30. Mr Sayuti Abdul Gani

• Born Aug 24

• Marketing manager at NTUC Club

• Married with three children

"You know how some people freeze up when they're on a stage with hundreds and thousands of pairs of eyes looking at them? That's not me at all - I love being on stage and bringing laughter and fun to everyone.

I'm an all-round entertainer - I host, sing and do anything to make people smile.

When I was 22, I was the band leader and lead vocalist of Singapore band The Shaggies.

It feels like everyone is celebrating my birthday... SG50 can also mean Sayuti Gani 50, right? ''

MR SAYUTI ABDUL GANI

In 1993, we performed at Singapore's first music festival - Sentosa Music Festival - alongside big-name singers such as Bon Jovi, Rick Price and Andy Lau.

It was nerve-racking, but such an extraordinary experience.

I also host events such as May Day rallies and carnivals. I hope to form a group of musicians who are all turning 50 this year, so that we can be part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

This year, it feels like everyone is celebrating my birthday.

Why? Because of my initials. I mean, SG50 can also mean Sayuti Gani 50, right?"


31. Ms Jasmine Teo

• Born March 1

• Housewife

• Married with two children

"My two daughters are grown up and independent, so I look forward to my badminton games and dance classes.

I play badminton three or four times a week and I am taking beginner salsa, Bachata, New Vogue and Street Cha-Cha classes. These are effective ways to keep physically and mentally fit, as well as to make new friends.

Life is a journey and the first half of my journey has had its fair share of very joyful, as well as difficult and painful, times.

I want to be careful and not repeat the mistakes that I made in the past. I have learnt to let go of the smaller issues and focus on the big picture, in terms of parenting my daughters and my relationships with others.

In 2012, our family took in an abandoned Shih Tzu, Abby. It is about six years old and has brought much joy to the family.

I consider Abby to be my youngest daughter."


32. Mr Ivan Tan

• Born Dec 12

• Senior vice-president of corporate and marketing communications at Changi Airport Group

• Married with two children

"I wasn't born into privilege. My father was a postmaster and we lived in the staff quarters for the first 12 years of my life.

One of my proudest moments was graduating from the National University of Singapore. I remember fondly the career milestones that I have been fortunate to notch up, including a two-year stint in Brussels with the Belgian national telco from 1996 to 1998.

My wife is also a 1965 baby and we will celebrate our 50th birthdays with a holiday. I haven't told her where we are going, but it will be among the 157 cities that Singapore has direct flights to.

One of my life's passions is to see the world - Tahiti, Alaska and Belize are on my wishlist.

I started travelling relatively late in life as my family couldn't afford it. My first flight, to Perth, was after I completed national service, at the grand old age of 20. Today, a good number of Singaporean children would have flown several times before their teenage years."


33. Ms Karen Tan

• Born Oct 22

• Housewife

• Married with two children

"For two decades, I was content to put aside my own dream so that the three men in my life can live out theirs.

Now that my husband has scaled his corporate peaks and my sons are headed to Ivy League colleges, it's time for me to resume a journey I started many years ago.

For as far back as I can remember, the sight of a child with intellectual disability has always tugged at my heartstrings.

I hold three degrees in education and the social sciences, and was a psychologist in a special school until motherhood and my husband's expatriate assignments altered my path.

I became a stay-at-home mum and found my passion in the art of pottery. Next month, I shall pursue a second master's degree at the Lasalle College of the Arts.

Fifty marks the beginning of a new journey for me."


34. Mrs Sharifah Masturah Shahab-Yokoyama

• Born Dec 1

• Head of programme at Rainbow Centre-Yishun Park School

• Married with three children

"I want to continue to stay bold, brave and impactful even after 50 so that I can inspire our community and the people around me.

Some of my best memories are of the time when I was selected to represent Singapore in a youth exchange programme, the Ship for South-East Asian Youth Programme, when I was 23.

It was a splendid platform for fostering friendships and greater understanding among youth of Japan and Asean countries.

I was so attracted to the Japanese culture after the programme that I became very close to a Japanese participant. After four years of courtship, we got married. I've been married for 21 years and we have three lovely and energetic daughters aged 20, 18 and 16.

In 2013, I was invited to lead the Singapore contingent of the same youth programme as the national leader.

I believe I have a lifetime of adventure waiting for me."


35. Mr Prakash Govindan Damodaran

• Born Oct 30

• Security executive

• Married with two children

"I grew up in a kampung around Rangoon Road with my father, mother and two brothers.

In those days, we had only one toilet. When our whole family had stomach upsets, we queued to use the toilet.

Later, we moved to a rental HDB flat in Whampoa, before moving again a few years later to a three-room flat in Owen Road.

Finally, we had a home with rooms and more than one toilet. Things were so much more convenient.

I have been doing volunteer work at the Arulmigu Velmurugan Gnanamuneeswarar Temple in Rivervale Crescent in Sengkang since 2006.

The volunteers and I help out in all of the temple's events and we have also taken part in blood donation drives and other community events.

I find both my working life and volunteer work fulfilling and enriching. They give me a sense of satisfaction - that I'm giving back to society."


36. Ms Debbie Goh

• Born Sept 24

• Principal at MY World Preschool

• Married with two children

"In the early 1970s, my family lived near the warehouses where Clarke Quay is now. In the evenings, we went for walks in the Fort Canning area. I spent many happy days running around the fountain in front of the then National Theatre.

I remember my father used to fetch water from a well at night, filling up pails and the ceramic dragon urn in the house for showers and cooking.

In the late 1970s, when we moved into an HDB flat, nine-year-old me was so excited at and fascinated by the sight of running water from a tap.

As a teenager, the coolest thing to do then was eating fast food at McDonald's, KFC or A&W.

My first job was as a kindergarten teacher. Now, I am a principal.

Turning 50 represents a new phase in life. I want to learn new skills and go back to playing sports. I stopped after having my children. I also hope to travel more with my family."


37. Mr Darulhisham Dahalan

• Born Jan 28

• Checkpoint inspector, Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority

• Married with four children

"Remembering my age and my wife's birthday is easy. I was born in the same year that Singapore became independent and my wife shares the same birth date as Singapore, Aug 9. What makes our yearly birthday celebrations memorable is watching the fireworks display together at the Esplanade.

I feel blessed and proud to have four children and a wonderful wife. Age is not an issue as long as I stay in good health and keep fit."


38. Ms Ithayarani Kunjoo

• Born Jan 31

• Part-time cleaner at cleaning services firm Helpling

• Married with three children

"I'm proudest of my children. My elder daughter Seetha, 32, is married and works in a hotel.

My son Raman, 25, is doing his university studies in Melbourne. Before this, he did his national service as a commando officer in the army.

My younger daughter Rajeshary, 20, has completed her Secondary 4 education and is also working in a hotel.

I'm proud of each of them. I studied until only Primary 2.

I have diabetes and high blood pressure and have to buy medicine every three months. But I've accepted that nothing in life comes easy and it's only through hardship that one can appreciate life and become stronger.

For my 50th birthday, we had a simple celebration and my son bought me a cake.

My children are all grown up. I have done my part as a mother, so I am happy."


39. Mr Haresh Sharma

• Born Jan 18

• Resident playwright at The Necessary Stage

• Single

"I usually don't celebrate my birthday, but I see turning 50 as a milestone year, so I had family and friends over for a birthday party in January at Food For Thought @ National Museum of Singapore.

My friends put together a very emotional video where people recounted their memories of me.

I also had a very dramatic star- shaped, silver-coloured cake with a giant candle sparkler.

To me, turning 50 is about entering a stage of learning more, knowing more and doing more.

This year also marks the 25th year that I've been working full time with The Necessary Stage. It's not a small thing that I've spent half my life here. I'm already working towards the theatre company's 30th anniversary in 2017.

When I was in my 20s, I said to be 50 is 'damn old'. But I don't feel that way. I'm not retired or retiring and there's much to look forward to in life."


40. Ms Yvonne Tan Keat Keat

• Born June 12

• Merchandiser at Tollyjoy Baby Products

•Married with three children

"Having dedicated my 30s and most of my 40s to raising my three children, I count myself fortunate to be able to start a vocation in merchandising as I turn 50.

I am proud of how my children have matured into adults.

The time is right for me to focus on my career and other interests that uncover my potential and give me a sense of fulfilment.

I still have a long way to go in honing my professional skills. I look forward to spending more time travelling with my family in my 50s."


41. Dr Tan Khay Boon

• Born Nov 18

• Senior lecturer at SIM Global Education

• Married with two children

"I have mixed feelings about turning 50. My age reminds me that I do not have much time left, but it also makes me realise that now is the time to do the things I want to do.

There are many books I would like to read, movies to watch and places to visit, such as the Maldives, Tahiti and the city of Xi'an in China.

I will go slow from here. I hope for a stable income and good health, which will allow me to pursue activities such as scuba diving and deep sea fishing. I was unable to do these earlier, due to lack of time and financial constraints.

Besides obtaining a scuba diving licence, I hope to write a few books on economics and learn how to cook."


42. Madam Valerie Ou

• Born June 3

• Secretary at a trading company

• Married with two children

"To be half a century old may sound scary to some, but I'm very grateful to have come so far.

As I grew up, like many fellow Singaporeans, I entered the workforce, got married, purchased an HDB flat and had children of my own.

Both my children are graduating from local universities this year.

I am grateful to be a Singaporean and to have grown up here.

I hope to grow old with grace and in good health."


43. Ms Serene Chan Gueh Joo

• Born July 29

• Vice-president for consumer financial services finance at OCBC Bank

• Has three children

"I come from a family of seven children. We were not very well-off and could not afford a television, so we often went to our richer neighbours' houses to watch television.

We were a very tight-knit family. Whenever one of us returned home late, the rest of the siblings would wait at the bus stop to walk back together to our kampung.

I'm looking forward to see what Singapore will be like in the years to come.

I'm very glad to have been given many opportunities to grow and excel in my career.

To me, at 50 years old, being able to still contribute effectively to the bank and being recognised for it is something that I am very happy and proud of.

With my children - aged 27, 23 and 21 - all grown up, I have more time for myself to do the things I enjoy doing, such as going to the gym and exercising regularly."


44. Mr Joe Chua

• Born May 22

• Owns a bicycle rental shop, Jomando Adventure & Recreations, in Punggol

• Married with three children

"I've accomplished more than what I have thought I would. I'm very proud of my business, which I started three years ago.

Ever since I was a kid, I've loved exploring new areas - hills, fields, wetlands - practically every corner of Singapore.

I'm a member of a sports team called Crazy2tri - as in "crazy to triathlon" - which does extreme sports such as triathlons, marathons and adventure races.

I feel very lucky to have married my work and passion.

I have three lovely sons - a pair of twins aged 22 and my younger son, 19, with my wife, Michelle. I failed my O levels, so the fact that all my children can make it to university makes me extremely proud.

One of my twins is studying accountancy at the Singapore Management University, while the other is studying at Nanyang Technological University.

I hope to scale more mountains, both literally and figuratively. I hope to run, swim and cycle through this triathlon of life."


45. Ms Linda Phua

• Born June 30

• Waitress at Resorts World Sentosa

• Married with two children

"I don't feel old. Age is only a number. In fact, I feel younger every day since I'm always picking up new technology, such as the functions on my iPhone.

I was a housewife for 20 years and looked after my two sons - Guo Wei, 26, and Guo Quan, 19.

I joined Resorts World Sentosa three years ago. You can find me at the Fairy Godmother Potion Shop in Universal Studios Singapore, serving slushies and manning the cashier. My uniform is blue and white and I always put on blue eyeshadow and eyeliner to match it. Many guests ask if I am the Fairy Godmother and some ask to take photos with me.

At work, I've made many new friends, such as interns who come from countries such as the Philippines, South Korea, Australia and Britain.

I celebrated my birthday with some former interns. They cooked me dinner at one of their apartments."


46. Ms Noraini Mohamad

• Born April 10

• Unit development consultant, The Singapore Scout Association

• Single

"I'm not so fortunate to experience life as a wife or mother, but I have no regrets. I have a godson, 29, who is an Indonesian.

He was my driver during a road trip from Bandung to Bali in June 2011. I was moved to help him after he shared about the hardships in his life. I helped him to get a teaching position in a school in Batam where he now resides and works. I visit him every other month.

My experiences as a 'mother' have been fulfilling. I can understand the jubilation and also the heartaches. The experience fills me with gratitude towards my late mother, for all her sacrifices.

I'm not afraid of failure. I've lost count of the number of times I attempted the A levels as a private candidate between 1983 and 1993. I later completed a diploma course at SIM in human resource development and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Education and Training from the University of Melbourne.

These experiences make me who I am. I believe in doing my best and giving my best."


47. Professor David Chan

• Born July 17

• Lee Kuan Yew Fellow and Director of the Behavioural Sciences Institute at Singapore Management University

• Single

"My first reaction to turning half a century old is whether eye cream should be on my shopping list.

My second, and more serious one, is reflecting on my past and reviewing the present to see what I can do to make the rest of my life more meaningful.

I feel most fulfilled about using my knowledge and skills to effectively address practical issues in Singapore. These include improving urban planning, re-integrating ex-offenders into the workforce, preventing problem gambling and enhancing employee well-being.

Before entering academia, I worked for nine years in the Singapore Police Force. My job as a police patrol officer at Tanglin Police Station taught me how to manage demanding diplomats, irate complainants and violent criminals.

I interacted with understanding ambassadors, resilient victims and remorseful offenders.

There were also crisis incidents that you don't forget, be it attending to murder, rape or riot cases, or disasters such as the 1986 Hotel New World collapse, where I was involved in the coordination of the rescue operations.

These episodes remain vivid in my memory.

Many of my core values and principles, such as fairness, empathy and adaptability, were developed in these practical contexts."


48. Mr Tan Pheng Chee

• Born Sept 30

• Senior vice-president for architecture at CPG Consultants

• Married with four children

"I joined the former Public Works Department, now CPG Corporation, in the early 1990s.

This department played a major role in the creation of much of Singapore's infrastructure, including public buildings such as Changi Airport, Woodlands Checkpoint and Parliament House complex.

It also helped in the redevelopment of the Old Hill Street Police Station and Central Fire Station.

I believe that we need to keep learning and updating ourselves to cope with the challenges ahead."


49. Dr Mark Lim

• Born Feb 18

• Director (industry & enterprise), Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, A*Star

• Married with two children

"I feel old and young at the same time. Old because of the changes in Singapore that I can hardly reconcile with my childhood experiences. Young because Singapore is evolving so rapidly that I get to experience new things often.

As a child, our only entertainment was watching black-and- white television programmes. We often encountered reception problems and never knew if we could watch a programme until the end. Now, we can watch anything almost any time, anywhere.

The Singapore River and Sentosa of my younger days were also very different from what I see today. Sentosa had practically no attractions then.

I've always been interested in science and pursued mechanical engineering for my diploma and degree courses in polytechnic and university. I did my degree and PhD in Britain.

Today, I am more passionate about science than I was before, having acquired a wide spectrum of knowledge in the field."


50. Ms Pang Li Nah

• Born Oct 24

• Director of sales and marketing at Parkroyal on Pickering hotel

• Single

"Everywhere I turn this year, the SG50 logo is a constant reminder of how much I have grown as a person.

I have devoted half of my life to the hospitality business. From the 1990s, when Orchard Road was the main tourism hot spot, to the Singapore Formula One night race lighting up the Marina Bay in the noughties, I have met guests who, like myself, have seen how Singapore has evolved to become the tourism destination that it is today.

I still possess great passion for my job. It has given me fond memories and the opportunity to rub shoulders with people from all walks of life, including celebrities such as Kanye West, Katy Perry and Zachary Quinto who stayed in the hotels I worked at.

Celebrating Singapore's 50th birthday will be a momentous day for me as there is much of life to look back on and yet still so much more to achieve."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 05, 2015, with the headline '50 on turning 50'. Print Edition | Subscribe