SINGAPORE - All over Singapore on Wednesday (Aug 8), public servants came together to commemorate the country's independence by singing the National Anthem and reciting the pledge.
In the morning, President Halimah Yacob, in her first National Day Observance Ceremony as President, stood at attention in front of the main building of the Istana as the flag was raised and strains of Majulah Singapura filled the air for the solemn ceremony.
Also present were Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, as well as 400 staff members of the Istana, civil servants from the Prime Minister's Office and the National Parks Board, and Military Police Command officers.
After the National Anthem and pledge, they also sang the popular National Day song One People, One Nation, One Singapore.
In her first National Day message to Singaporeans, released on Tuesday, Madam 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 bring Singapore to the next level with unity and a shared vision."
Madam Halimah, who was sworn in last September (2017) as President, said she looks forward to presiding over her first National Day Parade. She said: "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 funpacks. 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.
Guests at the ceremony were later invited to a performance in the Istana by children from A Flutey Affair Junior, a woodwinds ensemble.
Among them was eight-year-old Yew Jing Yun, who was 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 last time. But I was still nervous this time because there are more people," she said.
Across the island, in Gombak Drive, Defence Minister 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, at another National Day Observance Ceremony.
Artists from the Music and Drama Company, which is an entity of So Drama! Entertainment, and children from Sunflower Preschool @ Mindef performed We Are Singapore, this year's National Day Parade theme song. After that, all of those present joined in to sing a medley of popular National Day songs.
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.