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President Halimah Yacob hopes to share Istana grounds with more Singaporeans

President Halimah Yacob hopes to share Istana grounds with more Singaporeans
President-elect Halimah Yacob being given a tour of the Istana grounds, including the gardens and buildings before her swearing-in on Thursday (Sept 14). Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

President Halimah Yacob hopes to share Istana grounds with more Singaporeans

SINGAPORE — President Halimah Yacob is thinking of ways to share the Istana grounds with more Singaporeans, in addition to the days where the grounds are open to the public.

Speaking to the media before her swearing-in ceremony on Thursday (Sept 14), she said that engaging Singaporeans and making the Istana more accessible were at the top of her agenda. 

“I really am thinking of the work that we have to do, and I really want to start immediately,” Madam Halimah told Channel NewsAsia.

As for sharing the Istana grounds, she said: “For instance, we have the herb garden. (I was thinking) whether could we invite some senior volunteers to come once in a while to tend to the garden and also to harvest some of the garden’s fruit, the spices, the chillies.”

“I was thinking also — could we have picnics for children, off from the normal periods from when we open the grounds?” added Mdm Halimah, 63, who was given a tour of the Istana grounds, including the gardens and buildings, earlier on Thursday.

“I understand that we must also preserve the dignity of the Istana, but taking that into consideration, could we make the Istana a little bit more accessible to people? It’s a beautiful place, (it would be nice) to see how we could share it more with Singaporeans.” 

When asked about her response to doubts raised by some Singaporeans over the reserved presidential election, Mdm Halimah said: “We’ve got a tremendous amount of work to do. That’s why I am calling upon Singaporeans to focus on our priorities. We’ve always been a nation that’s very resilient, very forward-looking, very progressive, and that’s how we’ve overcome so many crises in the past. Our people have stood united and we’ve overcome so many obstacles. I am sure that we can do a lot more.”