Presidential lo hei lunch at the Istana

Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre Community Services beneficiaries and volunteers touring the Istana grounds yesterday. They were also taken on a tour of the main building and the upper lawn by volunteer guides. President Halimah Yacob taking part in
Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre Community Services beneficiaries and volunteers touring the Istana grounds yesterday. They were also taken on a tour of the main building and the upper lawn by volunteer guides.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre Community Services beneficiaries and volunteers touring the Istana grounds yesterday. They were also taken on a tour of the main building and the upper lawn by volunteer guides. President Halimah Yacob taking part in
President Halimah Yacob taking part in the lo hei (tossing of raw fish) with the beneficiaries and volunteers yesterday. The visit was part of her efforts to make the Istana more accessible to Singaporeans.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

It was a trip to the Istana for 23 elderly beneficiaries and 11 volunteers from the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre Community Services after they were invited by President Halimah Yacob to a Chinese New Year lo hei lunch yesterday.

During the visit, the beneficiaries received hongbao and oranges from Madam Halimah.

They were also taken on a tour of the main building and the upper lawn by volunteer guides from the National Parks Board and National Heritage Board.

Madam Halimah said the visit gave the beneficiaries a chance to take a closer look at the Istana and its architecture.

"Our seniors have been contributing to Singapore for a very long time and I think this is a warm and small way in which we recognise their contributions," she said.

"They've grown up knowing about the Istana but a majority of them - I would say almost all - have never been here."

Madam Halimah noted that the visit was an informal way to encourage integration of the different ethnicities, which she said is important for the seniors who grew up in multiracial Singapore.

"In a world that is becoming very divided with different identities - people withdrawing into their own identities with different definitions and considerations - providing such platforms (for integration) is important," she said.

Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre Community Services supports residents - individuals and families - who face financial, marital, parenting, as well as other personal and family-related issues and life challenges.

The visit was part of Madam Halimah's efforts to make the Istana more accessible to Singaporeans.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2019, with the headline 'Presidential lo hei lunch at the Istana'. Print Edition | Subscribe