President's Address

Light moments at a serious ceremony

(From left) Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong (From left) Retired ministers Yaacob Ibrahim, Lim Hng Kiang and Lim Swee Say. The three veteran poli
President Halimah Yacob addressing a packed chamber as she gave her inaugural address in Parliament last night, setting out the Government's agenda for the second half of its term.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
President Halimah Yacob and her husband Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee taking their leave at Parliament House last night.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mingling with guests at Parliament House last night. PM Lee will be among those who will speak when Parliament meets next week to debate the President's Address, in which President Halimah Yacob called for leaders to "fire up and mobilise the spirit and energy of young Singaporeans".
People's Action Party MP Zainal Sapari snapping a photo of new Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh as he takes the front-row seat in Parliament for the first time, with Mr Singh's predecessor Low Thia Khiang and WP chairman Sylvia Lim behind him. The W
(From left) Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong
(From left) Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong (From left) Retired ministers Yaacob Ibrahim, Lim Hng Kiang and Lim Swee Say. The three veteran poli
(Anti-clockwise from top left) Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, MP Alex Yam and Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad.
MP Tin Pei Ling, who replaced Ms Sun Xueling as the deputy chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information in a change that took effect yesterday.
MP Tin Pei Ling, who replaced Ms Sun Xueling as the deputy chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information in a change that took effect yesterday.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and his wife Diana Kuik. He was among key 4G leaders who filled the front bench following a Cabinet reshuffle this month.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and his wife Diana Kuik. He was among key 4G leaders who filled the front bench following a Cabinet reshuffle this month.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat greeting Mr Po'ad Mattar, who is a member of the Council of Presidential Advisers, with Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and Youth.
(From left) Retired ministers Yaacob Ibrahim, Lim Hng Kiang and Lim Swee Say. The three veteran politicians, who retired from their Cabinet posts last month, moved from the front row to the second after their return to the backbench.
(From left) Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong (From left) Retired ministers Yaacob Ibrahim, Lim Hng Kiang and Lim Swee Say. The three veteran poli
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat greeting Mr Po'ad Mattar, who is a member of the Council of Presidential Advisers, with Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and Youth.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mingling with guests at Parliament House last night. PM Lee will be among those who will speak when Parliament meets next week to debate the President's Address, in which President Halimah Yacob called for leaders to "f
People's Action Party MP Zainal Sapari snapping a photo of new Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh as he takes the front-row seat in Parliament for the first time, with Mr Singh's predecessor Low Thia Khiang and WP chairman Sylvia Lim behind him. The WP MPs had asked Mr Zainal to take a group photo for them.
(From left) Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong (From left) Retired ministers Yaacob Ibrahim, Lim Hng Kiang and Lim Swee Say. The three veteran poli
President Halimah Yacob and her husband Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee taking their leave at Parliament House last night. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, ONG WEE JIN

Not long after President Halimah Yacob delivered her call for leaders to "fire up and mobilise the spirit and energy of young Singaporeans", a group of students, banding together, applied their collective verve to accomplish a common goal: Getting a wefie with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Stopping him on his way out of the reception following the President's Address, the group of about 10 young people clamoured for a group photo, and Mr Goh obliged.

They were not the only happy snappers at last night's ceremony, the culmination of weeks of work, as MPs and guests alike all seemed to want to get in on the making-pictures-for-posterity action.

Among the first to enter the Chambers were the three Workers' Party (WP) MPs - Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Low Thia Khiang and Ms Sylvia Lim - who, soon after taking their seats, asked PAP MP Zainal Sapari to take a group photo of them.

Former Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, taking his new seat in the second row, snapped photos of guests in the gallery, who included foreign ambassadors and the husbands and wives of backbenchers.

MP Baey Yam Keng's wife, Ms Lim Hai Yen, who was seated in the press gallery, waved at him and took some snaps as well from her vantage point.

A few seats away from her was Ms Sadiah Shahal, the wife of Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, in eye-catching pink.

 
 
 
 
 

Her bright outfit reflected the almost-jubilant mood in Parliament House, which belied what MPs said was a serious message in Madam Halimah's address, of the need for bold changes to take Singapore forward into the future.

But for just one evening, parliamentarians, dressed in their finest, let their hair down, just a little, especially at the reception afterwards.

Many among them have new roles - some of which will take getting used to.

As the new secretary-general of the WP, Mr Singh needed a bit of help finding his new spot in the front row.

The man he replaced, Mr Low - now in the second row - helpfully pointed it out to him.

But only a few minutes later, Mr Singh was out of his seat - to shake hands and exchange light banter with ESM Goh, who was making his way into the chambers.

Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera said the WP is proud of the leadership succession that Mr Singh's new seat represents.

"I think he has been an active parliamentarian, he has shown a very keen acumen for debate and understanding policies, and I think that has been widely recognised."

A snapshot was later uploaded onto the party's Facebook page, with the caption: "Changing of the guard."

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo added a flash of colour - and doubled the diversity - to the front bench, having moved forward from the second row.

Previously, Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu was the only woman in the front row, traditionally dominated by men wearing suits in sombre blacks and navy blues.

Seated at one end of the bench, Mrs Teo's lilac, pink and brown outfit nicely balanced out the bright red and blue cheongsam donned by Ms Fu at the other end.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, in a new seat in the second row, opted for a burgundy and silver sari.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 08, 2018, with the headline 'Light moments at a serious ceremony'. Print Edition | Subscribe