SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob celebrated her first Hari Raya since her presidency with about 50 children and their family members at the Istana on Friday (June 15).
"I'm so happy I am able to spend a part of the day with members of public. I'm so glad to see so many of them coming together in order to enjoy the Istana grounds," said Madam Halimah.
Besides attending the tea hosted by the president and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, the children, aged seven to 18 and from organisations like the Boys' Town, Muhammadiyah Welfare Home and the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home, were also treated to a magic show.
The Istana grounds were open to the public as well as part of Hari Raya celebrations, allowing visitors to enjoy the festivities and activities, including Malay dancing, a band performance and carnival games.
Madam Halimah told the media: "That's basically what we want to do, encourage people to be able to take part in and have access to the Istana grounds.
"We can't open it up completely but in certain controlled situations. As I've said right at the beginning of my presidency, I would like to make the Istana more accessible."
She added that this is part of efforts to engage the community, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds.
Other programmes, such as the Volunteer Gardeners@Istana, are in place to help make the complex more accessible to ordinary Singaporeans.
Madam Halimah added that Friday's tea session was to give the children an opportunity to experience the Istana: "They've never had that opportunity, and all of them were so delighted.
"So that's what we want to do, share what we have on the Istana grounds with our children from the homes."
She added: "Hari Raya is a time for celebration, reflection and spending time with our families.
"It is also a time for us to practise generosity to those around us, so amidst the festivities, let us also not forget those who may be less fortunate within our community."