Istana plays host to huge crowds for CNY

President Tony Tan and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, watching a Chinese dance performance by children from Bukit View Primary School, along with visitors at the Istana yesterday. Left: Mr John Lee and Madam Ling Huishan with their daughter Casslyn at Thoms
President Tony Tan and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, watching a Chinese dance performance by children from Bukit View Primary School, along with visitors at the Istana yesterday. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
President Tony Tan and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, watching a Chinese dance performance by children from Bukit View Primary School, along with visitors at the Istana yesterday. Left: Mr John Lee and Madam Ling Huishan with their daughter Casslyn at Thoms
Mr John Lee and Madam Ling Huishan with their daughter Casslyn at Thomson Medical Centre on Monday. Casslyn is one of several babies delivered at midnight on Sunday. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO
President Tony Tan and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, watching a Chinese dance performance by children from Bukit View Primary School, along with visitors at the Istana yesterday. Left: Mr John Lee and Madam Ling Huishan with their daughter Casslyn at Thoms
Mr Ivan Koh and Madam Chu Guat Beng with their newborn daughter - who was also delivered at midnight on Sunday - and 17-month-old son Ian at Mount Alvernia Hospital. The baby girl has yet to be named. PHOTO: COURTESY OF RISIS

21,000 tour the grounds, watch lion dance and acrobatic shows, and snap photos with President

Over the past two days, Singaporeans around the island marked Chinese New Year with numerous celebrations.

As in previous years, the Istana grounds were opened to the public, playing host to more than 21,000 guests yesterday.

The light rain did not dampen the spirits of the visitors, many of whom had queued for hours for a chance to tour the grounds.

They were treated to performances by the Suzhou Performing Arts Group from China, whose members put on a unique Chinese acrobatic performance dressed as monkeys, and the Shan Long Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe.

Visitors also had the opportunity to take a guided tour to learn more about the Istana's flora and fauna. They could also explore the main building to view function rooms and gifts presented to the President and the Prime Minister by foreign dignitaries.

But the Istana lawn was closed to visitors because of renovation works that are expected to be completed at the end of this year.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, joined in the festivities as they met visitors and watched the performances.

Radiographer Terence Toh visited the Istana with his family as he does not usually go visiting on the second day of Chinese New Year.

"I was hoping to take a picture with the President," said the 28- year-old, who succeeded in snapping a selfie with Dr Tan.

Dr Melanie Raj, who visited the Istana with her husband and two children, managed to tour the main building and watch some of the performances. "The lion dance performance was amazing. My children loved it," said the 36-year-old paediatrician.

Elsewhere, away from the hustle and bustle of the New Year celebrations, in the quiet of some hospitals, Singapore's first babies in the Year of the Monkey were born.

Mr John Lee, 32, who works in car-rental customer support, and Madam Ling Huishan, 30, who works in the oil and gas industry, welcomed their daughter Casslyn to the world at the stroke of midnight on Sunday.

Casslyn, who was born at Thomson Medical Centre, is one of several babies delivered on the first day of the Chinese New Year.

Another couple, engineers Ivan Koh, 39, and Chu Chuat Beng, 34, welcomed their second child, a girl who has yet to be named, at midnight at Mount Alvernia Hospital.

Zhaki Abdullah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2016, with the headline 'Istana plays host to huge crowds for CNY'. Print Edition | Subscribe