SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob's choice of accessory to a recent Internal Security Department (ISD) anniversary dinner has caught the eye of several social media users, after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared photos of the event on Facebook.
Madam Halimah had paired her midnight blue top with a silver dinosaur-motif clutch, according to photos posted on Wednesday (Oct 3).
She was the guest of honour at the ISD's 70th anniversary dinner on Tuesday, where she was photographed touring an exhibition on ISD's milestones with PM Lee. The clutch was seen tucked under Madam Halimah's arm.
On Friday (Oct 5), the President's Office confirmed with The Straits Times that the clutch was designed by 21-year-old Pathlight student See Toh Sheng Jie, who is known for his talent in drawing dinosaurs.
In 2016, a similar pouch designed by Sheng Jie caused a stir online when Mrs Lee was seen sporting it during an official visit to the United States.
After it made headlines, the pouch - called the Denim Pouch-Dino Blue Black - quickly flew off the shelves, with 200 sold in the span of a few days.
The President's Office said that Madam Halimah bought five pieces of the clutch in different colours during a recent visit to the Autism Resource Centre, a President's Challenge beneficiary located at the Enabling Village.
The centre runs The Art Faculty store, which is part of Pathlight's Artist Development Programme.
The programme was launched in 2011 to encourage autistic students with artistic abilities. Student artists get royalty from the sale of merchandise.
According to the President's Office, Madam Halimah likes the clutches for their design and size, which enables her to fit a mobile phone nicely.
"Since then, President Halimah has been using them at different functions as it is her way of acknowledging and supporting their art," the statement said.
The President's Office added that President Halimah has always believed in supporting persons with special needs or those with disabilities.
"They also have their abilities. If given the right opportunities, they can showcase their talents and also be a source of inspiration for other Singaporeans," the statement added.
In the past year, Madam Halimah has embarked on several initiatives in support of social causes.
This includes showcasing the artwork of President's Challenge beneficiaries on memorabilia, state gifts and greeting cards.
Pathlight School principal Linda Kho said that Madam Halimah has been very supportive of people with special needs.
"We are honoured that she chose to bring this bag with her on the occasion of the Internal Security Department's 70th anniversary," Ms Kho said, adding that Madam Halimah has visited the school and The Art Faculty several times.
"It is an affirmation of how down-to-earth our president is and also how versatile our students' merchandise can be to fit all social occasions."
Autism Resource Centre deputy executive director Jacelyn Lim said that Sheng Jie's parents were proud and honoured to learn that Madam Halimah had carried their son's art work.
Sheng Jie, too, was happy when he heard the news, said his father Jason See Toh.
Ms Lim said that there has been an increased interest in the Dino Leather Wristlet Clutch in silver and charcoal since Madam Halimah was spotted carrying it.
The clutch retails for $48 online.
However, Ms Lim declined to reveal the sales revenue and said that the message Madam Halimah has sent was more significant.
"She is really expounding the dignity of work done by these talented people with autism," Ms Lim said.
"We are deeply grateful of the message sent out in this gracious gesture to support inclusion and celebrate abilities; to not let what one cannot do deter us from doing what we can."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.