Leaders, public servants observe National Day

President Halimah Yacob, flanked by PM Lee Hsien Loong and ESM Goh Chok Tong, reciting the Singapore Pledge with 400 staff members of the Istana, Prime Minister's Office, Military Police Command and NParks at a National Day Observance Ceremony yester
President Halimah Yacob, flanked by PM Lee Hsien Loong and ESM Goh Chok Tong, reciting the Singapore Pledge with 400 staff members of the Istana, Prime Minister's Office, Military Police Command and NParks at a National Day Observance Ceremony yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

It is a time to reflect on what brought us here and how to take Singapore to the next level, says President Halimah

All over Singapore yesterday, public servants came together to commemorate the country's Independence at solemn National Day Observance Ceremonies.

The ceremony at the Istana was among the first, starting at 8.50am.

There, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong joined President Halimah Yacob in her first National Day Observance Ceremony as President, along with 400 staff members of the Istana, Prime Minister's Office, National Parks Board and Military Police Command.

They stood in front of the main building of the Istana as the flag was raised and strains of Majulah Singapura filled the air in a dignified ceremony.

After the National Anthem and Pledge, they also sang the popular National Day song One People, One Nation, One Singapore, with some swaying to the beat.

Similar scenes had played out across Singapore at various venues this week as Singapore's leaders and public servants observed National Day.

In her first National Day message to Singaporeans released on Tuesday, President Halimah said: "National Day is an occasion for us to celebrate our nation's independence.

 

"It is a time for us to reflect on what brought us here and how we can take Singapore to the next level with unity and a shared vision."

Madam Halimah, who was sworn in as President in September last year, said she looks forward to presiding over her first National Day Parade: "This year's Parade is especially meaningful to me, because the programme will involve Singaporeans with diverse talents and from all walks of life.

"I am also very proud of our special needs students, who designed this year's fun packs. These are good reminders to all of us that regardless of background, we can all contribute."

President Halimah has made it part of her agenda to open the Istana grounds to more people, including those with special needs.

At the Istana yesterday, guests at the ceremony were invited to a performance by children from A Flutey Affair Junior, a woodwinds ensemble.

Among them was Yew Jing Yun, eight, part of a trio that played My Favourite Things.

"I was nervous and excited. It's not my first time performing in front of the President. I am in Chinese dance and we also performed for the President before. But I was still nervous this time because there are more people," she said.

At another ceremony at Gombak Drive, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen led some 2,500 Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and Singapore Armed Forces personnel in reciting the Pledge and singing the National Anthem.

They were treated to a performance by artistes from the Music and Drama Company and children from Sunflower Preschool @ Mindef who sang this year's National Day Parade theme song, We Are Singapore.

Also at the ceremony were Senior Ministers of State for Defence Heng Chee How and Mohamad Maliki Osman, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, Chief of Air Force Major-General Mervyn Tan, Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong and Chief of Army Brigadier-General Goh Si Hou.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2018, with the headline 'Leaders, public servants observe National Day'. Print Edition | Subscribe