103 honorary aides-de-camp appointed by President Halimah at the Istana

(From left) LTC Rachel Lim of the Republic of Singapore Air Force and Maj NS Dr Ramesh Wijaya of the Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation at the Istana on Feb 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - After 18 years as a honorary aide-de-camp (HADC) to the President, Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Lieutenant-Colonel Rachel Lim Tszu-Yin will step down from her appointment.

LTC Lim, who is the longest-serving female HADC, currently holds a position as head of the human resources management centre at the RSAF's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Command.

Speaking of her role as an HADC, LTC Lim said: "I was appointed in 2003, before my son was born. This role is demanding, but it has taught me to pick up time management and leadership skills in order to balance both my military commitments and my personal life."

HADCs support full-time aides-de-camp in organising and assisting at official events, such as visits by foreign dignitaries, and functions, such as the Istana Open House, when people can enter the Istana grounds.

Drawn from the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force, they assume this role on top of their professional work.

They serve at least 60 hours a year in their first two years, and from the third year on, serve a minimum of 48 hours each year.

LTC Lim's contributions were highlighted by President Halimah Yacob in a speech during an appointment and appreciation ceremony at the Istana on Monday (Feb 14).

President Halimah said: "Like many working females, juggling work and family is a challenge. For female HADCs, this challenge is even more accentuated, as many of our HADC duties are in the evenings or weekends, taking precious family time away."

Madam Halimah added that she was happy to host the ceremony for the HADCs, the first time it has taken place since 2019, as it was postponed over the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the ceremony, President Halimah appointed 103 HADCs, 32 of whom are new to the role. The rest were reappointed.

One newly appointed HADC is Major (NS) Dr Ramesh Wijaya, who is a senior consultant surgeon at Changi General Hospital and a clinical assistant professor at Duke-NUS Medical School.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Dr Wijaya said it was his father who inspired him to extend his national service and accept the offer of serving as an HADC.

"My father belonged to one of the first batches of NS officers and he instilled the importance of serving in me.

"I finished my NS liability in 2012, but decided to extend my service by becoming a medical officer in order to marry the skills I had and contribute to the SAF's medical operations," said the 40-year-old, who is from the Commando formation.

Another newly appointed HADC is Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Harinderpal Kaur, an operations officer in the security and counter-terrorism division.

ASP Harinderpal Kaur of the Singapore Police Force, at the Istana, on Feb 14, 2022. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Previously holding a job as an auditor, she made the switch to join the police seven years ago and said that the opportunity to serve as an HADC was her way of giving back to the community.

"I'm happy to be able to give back to the country in this way, and this appointment is a validation of the effort that I've put in," said the 38-year-old single parent, who has one child.

"My son gets especially excited. When he was younger, it was just about the uniform. But now that he's taking his PSLE this year, he's more interested in understanding how diplomacy works."

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