New book on Istana through the years launched by President Tony Tan Keng Yam

Photographer Nicholas Yau with President Tony Tan and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan.
Photographer Nicholas Yau with President Tony Tan and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan.ST PHOTO: RACHEL AU-YONG
(From left) Photographer Russel Wong, Puan Noor Aishah, Mr Tan, Mrs Tan, former chief of defence Winston Choo and Mr Nicholas Yau.
(From left) Photographer Russel Wong, Puan Noor Aishah, Mr Tan, Mrs Tan, former chief of defence Winston Choo and Mr Nicholas Yau.ST PHOTO: RACHEL AU-YONG
The online version of the book on the Istana website.
The online version of the book on the Istana website.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM THE ISTANA WEBSITE

SINGAPORE - When Puan Noor Aishah moved into the Istana in 1959, she made changes to the way the staff ran the former British governor's home and introduced local touches.

One of the changes the widow of the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara, and later President Yusof Ishak, made was to the menu.

Instead of English food like roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, the then-25-year-old trained the cooks to master dishes reflecting the local palate, such as beef rendang, gula melaka dessert and chap chye.

In doing so, she gave a local flavour to the former colonial residence, where state ceremonies are held.

Her story is among the many captured in a coffee table book launched on Tuesday afternoon. Commissioned by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Our Istana - Through The Years contains montages of photographs and stories from people who have passed through its gates.

Besides Madam Noor Aishah, other Singaporeans like former chief of defence Winston Choo, the first Aide-de-Camp to the President, were interviewed for the book.

Speaking at its launch, President Tan said he was struck by how the stories and photographs gave an insight not just into the changes that took place in the Istana, but also how its evolution reflected Singapore's development in various areas such as foreign relations, community development and the arts and sports.

"The Istana is not just a heritage building or an institution, but an important part of our shared history and identity."

People can download the book for free at the Istana website, or buy a hard copy at $50 each by sending an e-mail to ncss_pc@ncss.gov.sg.

Proceeds will go to the President's Challenge SilverVolunteer Fund, which recognises the pioneer generation's contributions to nation-building.

A limited edition of the book, with President Tan's signature, is available for people who donate at least $10,000.

Singaporeans can share their memories of the Istana by using the hashtag #ouristana on Instagram.