Honorary aides-de-camp lauded at Istana dinner

President Halimah Yacob presenting Major Rachel Lim Tszu-Yin - who has been an honorary aide-de-camp for 15 years - with a special token of appreciation at the Istana event last night. With them is Maj Lim's son Jonathan Chia, 12.
President Halimah Yacob presenting Major Rachel Lim Tszu-Yin - who has been an honorary aide-de-camp for 15 years - with a special token of appreciation at the Istana event last night. With them is Maj Lim's son Jonathan Chia, 12.PHOTO: MCI

Every night before going to sleep, Major Rachel Lim Tszu-Yin spends time with her son, helping him with his school work.

"Once, I forgot to tell him that I was working late and he called me to ask where I was," said the 42-year-old Maj Lim, whose son sometimes stays up to wait for her to come home. That night in 2015, Maj Lim was performing orderly duties at the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's wake, as part of her work as an honorary aide-de-camp (HADC) at the Istana.

Last night, President Halimah Yacob awarded Maj Lim, who has been an HADC for 15 years, with a special token of appreciation for her contribution at an annual dinner for her and her peers.

President Halimah said: "Like many working females, juggling work and family is already 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."

Maj Lim is Singapore's longest-serving female HADC.

These personnel - who come from all branches of the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) - serve the Office of the President by helping to organise and support official events and functions. It is a role they assume on top of their professional duties.

During the dinner, the President appointed 14 new HADCs and reappointed 89 others.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Muhammad Ridhuan, 31, who has been an HADC for two years, said the role has trained him to be more meticulous. Timing is everything at state events, said ASP Ridhuan, noting that one key event is the National Day Awards Investiture. "We have to plan everything properly," he said.

Newly appointed Captain Ang Xin Yi, 27, an SCDF senior staff officer, is looking forward to her new role and has been scheduled to help out at the National Day Awards Investiture. She said: "Being from a front-line unit (hazardous materials), this will be a new experience and I look forward to supporting the President."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2018, with the headline 'Honorary aides-de-camp lauded at Istana dinner'. Print Edition | Subscribe