President Halimah hosts reception for NDP performers, including father-and-son busking duo

Mr Mashruddin Saharuddin and his son Nizaruddin were among some 1,300 guests at the National Day reception hosted by Madam Halimah at the Istana on Aug 10, 2018. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Mr Mashruddin Saharuddin (third from left) and his son Nizaruddin (second from left) were among some 1,300 guests at the National Day reception hosted by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Aug 10, 2018. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - They went from busking at Tampines MRT to performing at the floating platform at Marina Bay for the National Day Parade (NDP) this year.

Now Mr Mashruddin Saharuddin, 64, and his son Nizaruddin, 27, have also been to the Istana and met President Halimah Yacob.

The duo were among some 1,300 guests at the National Day reception hosted by Madam Halimah at the Istana on Friday (Aug 10). They attended the reception along with other inspiring Singaporeans featured at the parade on Thursday.

Home-grown singer Charlie Lim performed this year's National Day song, a version of the 1987 classic We Are Singapore to which he had given a fresh spin.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong also attended the reception, together with their wives.

Mr Mashruddin said: "I'm happy to be here. I came here a few times in the past but so much has changed now. I wonder if there are still butterflies outside."

Mr Mashruddin, who is blind from birth, said that even though he could not see the huge crowds at the NDP, he could feel their energy.

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"It is my biggest task and yet it also feels the same as my regular busking. I'm always nervous and I don't like crowds," he said with a laugh.

For his son, Mr Nizaruddin, it is his first time visiting the Istana and meeting a president.

"I never thought I would be here. I never even thought I would make it on television," said Mr Nizaruddin, who started performing with his father when he was 13.

The duo's performance at the NDP went viral online and many gave them the thumbs up on social media, saying that the performance had touched them deeply.

Mr Nizaruddin said: "I went to sleep after the parade and woke up with so many messages from people who said they teared up because of our performance. People congratulated me and wanted to follow me on Instagram or be my friend on Facebook."

But what makes him happiest are the messages from people who have supported him for over a decade, following the performances of him and his father at Tampines MRT station where they busk nearly everyday.

"They have known me since I was a boy. This whole thing is new and unexpected for me, but it's such a good feeling," he said.

Former Olympian sprinter Mary Klass, 83, said it was also her first time meeting Madam Halimah. "I feel so honoured to be here. After yesterday, a lot of people said they were inspired by my story. I stood there watching the parade and I say it is the best one I've seen."

Another featured Singaporean at the reception was Mr Veera Sekaran, 56, founder of green design firm Greenology. He also said he was overwhelmed by being featured at the parade and then being invited to the reception.

"I had a mixed feeling yesterday. I was happy to tell my story but also sad because it reminded me of my struggles. I cried seeing it," he said.

"But I also think this narrative is important to us as Singaporeans, because society often looks down on people's failures. We are 'kiasu' and embarrassed to share such stories, but we need to overcome these stigmas."

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