President Halimah wants more opportunities for public to visit Istana

Above: President Halimah Yacob with Marsiling resident Jainah Awang, 68, one of about 80 residents from Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC whom the President met at the Istana open house yesterday. Madam Halimah was an MP in the GRC before she resigned to run for
Madam Halimah and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, welcoming visitors. More than 9,300 people attended the open house.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Above: President Halimah Yacob with Marsiling resident Jainah Awang, 68, one of about 80 residents from Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC whom the President met at the Istana open house yesterday. Madam Halimah was an MP in the GRC before she resigned to run for
President Halimah Yacob with Marsiling resident Jainah Awang, 68, one of about 80 residents from Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC whom the President met at the Istana open house yesterday. Madam Halimah was an MP in the GRC before she resigned to run for office.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The public can look forward to more opportunities to visit the Istana in future.

"I want to see the Istana becoming more accessible to ordinary Singaporeans," said President Halimah Yacob, who plans to open up the sprawling grounds off Orchard Road more frequently. This includes coming up with programmes beyond the current five open houses during Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali, Labour Day and National Day each year.

Her office is also studying how to invite more families as well as groups from social service organisations to visit the Istana.

"We have ideas that we are exploring," Madam Halimah told reporters yesterday during her first Istana open house since becoming president last month.

She did not say when the study to make the President's official residence more accessible to the public will be completed. An Istana spokesman said more details will be released "in due course".

More than 9,300 people visited the Istana yesterday. Madam Halimah and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, mingled with people for about two hours, taking photographs with walk-in visitors and organised groups such as schools.

The President also met about 80 residents from Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, where she was MP before she resigned to run for office.

IN THE WORKS

We have ideas that we are exploring.

PRESIDENT HALIMAH YACOB, on inviting more families and groups from social service organisations to visit the Istana.

One of the first-time visitors to the Istana yesterday was Primary 6 pupil Jaslyn Woo, 12, from Marsiling Primary. The head prefect was part of a group of pupils from the school selling biscuits to raise money for the President's Challenge, an annual fund-raising activity.

"I get to visit the Istana and do charity at the same time," she said.

Mr Maaran, a tourist from India, said it is a good idea to combine charity work with visits to the Istana. "The President can set the tone for giving to charity," said the businessman, who goes by one name.

Yesterday's open house was the last one for this year. The next Istana open house will be held during Chinese New Year next February.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'President Halimah wants more opportunities for public to visit Istana'. Print Edition | Subscribe