When family bonds come into play...

President Halimah Yacob and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, observing eight-year-old Adhavan Senthil Kumar kicking a football while his family members look on. The Jayabalan family - all 17 of them - was among the crowd at the Families fo
President Halimah Yacob and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, observing eight-year-old Adhavan Senthil Kumar kicking a football while his family members look on. The Jayabalan family - all 17 of them - was among the crowd at the Families for Life Picnic@Istana yesterday, where close to 500 families gathered for an afternoon of activities.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

It is not just economic growth that is the mark of a society, but also how its people relate to each other socially, according to President Halimah Yacob.

She said yesterday that Singaporeans should look forward to the new year with "great optimism", with the global economy recovering and the "pretty good" projections of growth here.

"Above all, I just hope Singaporeans will be kind to each other, support each other, and help each other," she added.

President Halimah was speaking to the media at the Families for Life Picnic@Istana, organised by the President's Office and non-profit group Families for Life.

Close to 500 families gathered on the Istana lawn for an afternoon of activities, such as terrarium making, jumping on bouncy castles, and watching musical performances.

Among the crowd was the Jayabalan family - all 17 of them.

Mr Balakrishnan Manoj, 39, who works in a bank, said the family wanted to spend time together.

The oldest family member is his father-in-law, Mr Jayabalan Surian, a 58-year-old sales marketing executive, and the youngest is his niece, two-year-old Teertha Sathish.

President Halimah said she hopes the picnic will become a yearly event. "We need such platforms for families to be able to come together, spend time, and bond with each other," she added.

Fabian Koh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 31, 2017, with the headline 'When family bonds come into play...'. Print Edition | Subscribe