Farewell to the President

Best wishes, hugs for Dr Tan and his wife

President Tony Tan Keng Yam holding the hand of his wife Mrs Mary Tan after acknowledging her support in his speech at the farewell reception and ceremony at the Istana on Aug 31, 2017.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam holding the hand of his wife Mrs Mary Tan after acknowledging her support in his speech at the farewell reception and ceremony at the Istana on Aug 31, 2017.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

One for the album.

Ministers and MPs, armed with phone cameras last night, crowded around President Tony Tan Keng Yam for a memento of a historic event as he stepped down as Singapore's seventh president.

As they expressed their best wishes to him, he clasped their hands and thanked them, with his wife Mary smiling beside him.

MP Saktiandi Supaat said he told Dr Tan what a pleasure it was to accompany him on a state visit to Italy. His best memory of the President and his wife was that they were a loving couple.

MP Joan Pereira said Dr Tan and Mrs Tan have a soft spot for children and the less privileged. Through their "quiet grace" as a couple, they are also a model of mutual support and devotion, she added.

The farewell event began at around 7pm and, at the tail end, a guard of honour gave Dr Tan a final salute as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Central Band played the Presidential Salute.

Dr Tan, accompanied by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also inspected the guard of honour contingents from the SAF and the Singapore Police Force.

Ministers formed a long line to say goodbye as the SAF band played Where I Belong. The 2001 National Day theme song was chosen to symbolise Dr Tan's hopes for a cohesive society and remind him that Singapore will always be home to him. Some, like Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu, hugged Mrs Tan in a fond farewell.

Stopping and giving a final wave to guests at around 8.15pm, Dr Tan and Mrs Tan stepped into the state car for the last time and were driven off in a presidential motorcade.

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh and Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2017, with the headline 'Best wishes, hugs for Dr Tan and his wife'. Print Edition | Subscribe