SINGAPORE - Madam Sim Goon Hua, 79, and Madam Lim Ah Kheoh, 82, had waited under the hot sun at the People’s Association headquarters last Wednesday (Sept 13), hoping to meet Madam Halimah Yacob who was just declared President-elect and would be inaugurated as Singapore’s first woman president.
But the two elderly women left disappointed in the end as the crowd was too thick and the heat was unbearable outside the Nomination Centre for the Presidential Election.
On Wednesday (Sept 20), Madam Sim and Madam Lim, had “the experience of their lives” when they were invited to the Istana for lunch.
President Halimah had read about them in The Straits Times. In the article, they had expressed their disappointment at not being able to meet her at the nomination centre.
“I read their interview and wanted to personally thank them for their support,” said President Halimah in a Facebook post after meeting the two seniors.
Speaking to The Straits Times after the lunch, Madam Sim quipped in Mandarin that when she first received the invite from the Istana, she thought she had “said something wrong”.
After she realised President Halimah wanted to have lunch with her, she was thrilled.
She said it was the first time both she and her friend have met any of Singapore’s presidents.
Madam Lim added: “(President Halimah) was very nice, she kept asking us to eat, and laughed a lot. We were sitting around the table like we were family... we are so happy.”
During the lunch of steamed fish, chicken, vegetables and rice, they chatted with Madam Halimah about their lives and the activities they participate in at the King George’s Senior Activities Centre.
“I told her that we sing, play mahjong, dance, play sudoku,” said Madam Sim. She added that she dolled up specially for the occasion too, putting on a silk blouse and gold earrings.
“The Istana is not a normal place, I must dress up, because the President wants to meet me!” she said with a wide smile.
During lunch, both women also gave President Halimah hand-embroided couplets with well-wishes for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival.
In her Facebook post, Madam Halimah said: “The two best friends are so full of energy. We had a good laugh at many of their jokes. And they reminded me of my mum - warm and personable, always seeing the bright side of things. Definitely role models for all of us.”