SINGAPORE - President Tony Tan Keng Yam formally appointed 102 honorary aides-de-camp (ADCs) - 22 of them for the first time - in a ceremony at the Istana on Friday (May 5) evening.
The honorary ADCs (HADCs), along with three full-time ADCs, serve the Office of the President by helping to organise and support official events and functions.
They come from all branches of the Singapore Armed Forces, as well as the Singapore Police Force and and Singapore Civil Defence Force, and include both regular officers and NSmen.
In his welcome remarks at the appointment and appreciation ceremony dinner, Dr Tan used the 50th anniversary of conscription as an opportunity to thank the NSmen who have chosen to serve in the HADC Corps on top of their regular national service reservist duties.
In the past, only regulars could serve in the HADC Corps.
The President said: "NSmen are a valued group of officers, as they bring with them not just experiences in the uniformed service, but also their corporate experiences in their day jobs."
After his speech, he presented medallions to the two longest-serving NSmen in the HADC Corps - Colonel (NS) Lim Jit Mee, 51, who has been an HADC for 15 years, and Deputy Assistant Commissioner (NS) Lionel Chai Yee Yuen, 50, who has served for 10.
Col (NS) Lim, who works in a family business dealing in paintbrushes, called his experience as an HADC "very enjoyable, exciting and eye-opening".
As an HADC, he has helped plan events for visiting dignitaries, with the 2012 visit of Britain's Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, particularly memorable for him.
"It was very interesting to meet royalty because you only see them on television," said Col (NS) Lim. "When you meet them face to face, you realise they are very nice people - they have no airs."
He recounted brushing up on the royals' interests beforehand so that he could come prepared to deliver the tennis-loving duchess the results of tennis star Andy Murray's exploits at the US Open.
Col (NS) Lim takes the demands of his vocation in his stride, even though he may be activated once or twice a month to serve the President's office.
"Some people play golf every weekend," he said. "I use this duty as a distraction for my day-to-day, mundane work."
Dr Tan also called attention to the diversity of the corps as a whole, with regard not just to its inclusion of officers from various services, but also to the paths taken by those who started their careers without a degree.
These officers "may have taken an alternative pathway to join us", said Dr Tan, but their journey "adds diversity and enriches the collective skills and professional experience of the HADC Corps".