More than 200 Singaporeans at reception to meet President Halimah in Germany

President Halimah Yacob (centre) met more than 200 Singaporeans living in Germany at the Jumeirah Hotel in Frankfurt on Dec 11, 2019. On her right is Singapore's ambassador to Germany Laurence Bay, while her husband Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee is on her left. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

FRANKFURT - More than 200 Singaporeans turned up for a reception with President Halimah Yacob in Frankfurt on Wednesday (Dec 11).

Among them were four alumna of Madam Halimah's alma mater Tanjong Katong Girls' School (TKGS).

Ms Hatijah Nuss, 61, said Madam Halimah expressed surprise at seeing the mini-TKGS gathering at the Jumeirah Frankfurt hotel.

Ms Hatijah, who is one of the leaders in the Singaporean community in Cologne, discovered through the Singaporeans-in-Germany online community that there were a lot of former TKGS girls living in Germany.

"Actually about six more of us (TKGS alumna) couldn't make it today," said Ms Hatijah, who settled in Germany in 1986 after meeting her husband.

She studied at TKGS from 1970 to 1974 but said she did not cross paths then with Madam Halimah, who attended pre-university classes there from 1972 to 1973.

Ms Hatijah, who teaches part time, added: "I think it's really wonderful to see President Halimah here today. When there's an event, Singaporeans will come because all of us have strong connections with home."

Madam Halimah is in Germany for a five-day state visit, the first by a Singaporean head of state.

She met German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, before flying to Frankfurt on Wednesday.

Material sciences PhD candidate Jacob Lee, who is based in Darmstadt about 35km from Frankfurt, said the reception was a rare opportunity to meet Singapore's leaders in person.

Mr Lee, 31, said that living in Germany since 2014 has helped him appreciate several things about Singapore more.

"One thing I've learnt is that the level of digitalisation in Singapore is super-high. Over here the paper work involved for bureaucratic matters is horrendous," he said.

There are more than 2,000 Singaporeans living in Germany.

In her speech at the gathering, Madam Halimah said the Singaporeans who turned up for the event are testament to the close people-to-people ties between Singapore and Germany.

"Many of you study or work here, and are well-positioned to offer Germans a glimpse of Singapore," said Madam Halimah.

"I was told that there is a very active Singaporeans-in-Germany community Facebook page, as well as one that shares the best makan recipes."

Separately, Madam Halimah made a visit to two German companies on Thursday, where she got a tour of operations and met German vocational apprentices.

She returns to Singapore on Saturday.

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