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PM Lee to invite 1,500 members of pioneer generation to Istana party

PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel and hands out oranges. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel and hands out oranges. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel and hands out oranges. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
PM Lee Hsien Loong watches drills conducted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel and hands out oranges. -- ST PHOTO: GOH CHIN LIAN
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives at the River Hongbao opening ceremony at on Jan 29, 2014. PM Lee will invite 1,500 people from Singapore's pioneer generation to a garden party at the Istana on Feb 9. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM CP 
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives at the River Hongbao opening ceremony at on Jan 29, 2014. PM Lee will invite 1,500 people from Singapore's pioneer generation to a garden party at the Istana on Feb 9. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM CP 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will invite 1,500 people from Singapore's pioneer generation to a garden party at the Istana on Feb 9.

The party will be held to honour the generation that helped build modern Singapore, and who contributed in the early years of independence.

The group will include Singaporeans from all walks of life, including former political leaders, those who have contributed to the uniformed services, unions and community through non-government and voluntary welfare organisations, Mr Lee said on Friday.

Also on the list will be "special groups" such as Singapore's first national service enlistees and officer cadets, he told reporters after his traditional Lunar New Year visit to Singaporeans at work during the festive season.

PM Lee said: "We cannot invite all of the people belonging to this generation, because you are talking about hundreds of thousands.

"But I hope the people whom I have invited will be those who have made greater contributions and also those who are representative of this generation and the many different walks of life, and different responsibilities, professions and groups which worked together in order to build Singapore."

As for those who are not invited, he expects there to be many more occasions in the coming year to pay tribute to them and their nation-building efforts.

Mr Lee is due to unveil the Government's planned Pioneer Generation Package to help seniors pay for the costs of health care, at the Feb 9 event.

He noted yesterday that the package is meant for the first generation who made today's Singapore, even as different measures will be in place to care for other seniors.

"We will look after all our old people, and we will arrange for our old people to be able to look after themselves. But the first generation who brought us here, I think that is our responsibility to honour them. And the 50th anniversary of our independence is an appropriate occasion for us to make a gesture which will be meaningful and, I hope, will be useful to them."

Mr Lee was speaking to reporters after visiting 80 uniformed personnel at the Queenstown Neighbourhood Police Centre and Alexandra Fire Station who had just finished their night shift or were starting their duty.

He was accompanied by Mrs Lee and leaders of the labour movement, including NTUC secretary-general Lim Swee Say and president Diana Chia.

They handed out mandarin oranges and cookies to the officers, and tossed yu sheng to usher in the Year of the Horse.

Mr Lee thanked the officers for "being on duty and on the watch when the rest of us are peacefully celebrating Chinese New Year".

chinlian@sph.com.sg