PM Lee has tea with netizens at the Istana

A veteran jazz musician and a young woman engineer who became a heroine in an oil rig accident last year had tea with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

They were among the 15 guests at the Istana that also included an art teacher and a counsellor behind a National Day-themed video which went viral.

All were linked by their presence on social media: Some had been featured by PM Lee on Facebook and Twitter, while others had followed or commented on his posts on these platforms.

In a Facebook post last night, Mr Lee wrote: "Everyone agreed that the social media was an integral part of our lives." He also launched a new platform, his Instagram account, to reach more Singaporeans, especially younger ones.

His guests at yesterday's tea included engineer Nur'rahmahdiah Salim, who rescued colleagues during an oil rig accident at Jurong Shipyard, and social worker Mohamed Fareez, one of two recipients of the Prime Minister Social Service Awards last year.

There were also those who had written songs or produced videos about Singapore, such as jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro, art teacher Tan Siang Yu and counsellor Galvin Sng, part of a team behind the much-reposted video "I Still Love You", and singer Shabir, whose National Day song Singai Naadu was a hit last year.

"They are excellent examples of Singaporeans with hope and heart," said Mr Lee of his guests. They discussed issues like housing, transport, technology and social media at the tea, the second Mr Lee hosted for netizens.

Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng, who was present, said one theme Mr Lee dwelt on in the two-hour session - which ran over by half an hour - was pursuing one's passion.

Ms Nur'rahmahdiah, 23, said Mr Lee asked her about working in marine engineering and how she bonded with her colleagues. She added that she felt inspired and motivated by the other Singaporeans she met.

Mr Monteiro, 52, noted that about half of the guests were from the creative industry. He raised the issue of whether there was enough work and gigs for the many talented musicians who graduate from local arts schools.

Mr Monteiro, who has sent two or three private messages to Mr Lee on Facebook, said of the session: "It was like having tea and a chit-chat with a friend."

andreao@sph.com.sg

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