S'pore Parliament observes a minute of silence as tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

MPs bowing their heads and holding a minute of silence in tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II on Sept 12, 2022. PHOTO: GOV.SG
British High Commissioner to Singapore Kara Owen (right) in the public gallery in Parliament on Sept 12, 2022. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Quiet fell over the House on Monday as MPs held a minute of silence in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who died last Thursday aged 96.

MPs bowed their heads, along with British High Commissioner to Singapore Kara Owen, who was in the public gallery.

In a speech, Leader of the House Indranee Rajah recognised the "reciprocal relationship of warmth and affection" between the Queen and Singapore and described her death as marking "the end of an era".

She said Queen Elizabeth had a unique role in Singapore's history.

Singapore was under the symbolic rule of the British monarchy until the 1960s, including during its transition from a British crown colony to an independent state.

At the inaugural session of the Legislative Assembly - the forerunner to the current Parliament - formed after the landmark 1955 General Election, the Queen sent a congratulatory message.

"I am glad, at the opening of the first session of the Legislative Assembly under the new Constitution of Singapore, to express to my people in Singapore my great satisfaction at the significant advance in their constitutional progress, which is marked by this occasion," the Queen said in the message that was delivered in the House on April 22, 1955.

"The Council of Ministers will now have to deal with the many problems of government, and upon them will fall the chief burden of responsibility for the continued advancement and prosperity of Singapore, and for the welfare and safety of its citizens."

Parliaments around the world have held minutes of silence to mark the life of the Queen, who died peacefully last Thursday afternoon at Balmoral, her Scottish estate, after a reign of 70 years.

She was head of not only the United Kingdom but also of the Commonwealth, a group of 56 nations across the globe of which Singapore is a member.

In 1947, on her 21st birthday, she had pledged in a broadcast from Cape Town to devote her life, "whether it be long or short", to the service of the Commonwealth.

Remote video URL

Ms Indranee, citing this, said: "Throughout her remarkable life, the Queen was the epitome of duty, stability, wisdom and grace. Above all, she embodied duty and service before self in an unbroken thread through the decades.

"Her life was indeed long, and she more than fulfilled that pledge - quietly, steadfastly and humbly - in the service of her country and the Commonwealth."

Beyond duty and public service, the Queen was also loved because of her personal touch and the warmth, sincerity and graciousness that she displayed to people from all walks of life, said Ms Indranee.

"She was charming, witty and disarming with an intrinsic ability to put someone immediately at ease," she added.

Several Parliamentarians have had the opportunity to meet her, including Ms Indranee and Workers' Party MP He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC).

Ms He posted on Facebook last week about her 1989 meeting with the Queen, when she presented a bouquet of flowers to her.

Singapore played host to the Queen in three state visits - in 1972, 1989 and 2006.

During these trips, the monarch always took the time and effort to get to know ordinary Singaporeans better, visiting people such as Mr Thomas Pang and his family at their Toa Payoh Housing Board flat in 1972 and again in 2006.

Queen Elizabeth visiting the Pang family during her first trip to the region on Feb 18, 1972. PHOTO: THOMAS PANG

While the Queen had received countless gifts from around the world, at least a couple from Singapore appeared to have meant something to her, said Ms Indranee.

They included a gold-plated made-in-Singapore Rollei film camera, which she had been photographed using over the years, as well as a gold and diamond Peranakan brooch which she was said to have worn more than 20 times - most recently in May during the opening of the Elizabeth rail line in London.

A diamond-encrusted gold brooch was presented as a gift to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 by the Singapore Government. PHOTO: ST FILE

Ms Indranee said the Queen's association with Singapore continues to be marked around the city, such as in the names of roads, estates and schools.

They include Queen Elizabeth Walk in Marina Bay, the Queenstown estate and Princess Elizabeth Primary School, which "record parts of our history and reflect our continued high regard for her late Majesty and our enduring friendly relations with the United Kingdom", added Ms Indranee.

"On behalf of this house, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to His Majesty King Charles III and the royal family and to the people of the United Kingdom on the passing of her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II," she said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.