A day after an extra public holiday was declared to celebrate the nation's 50th birthday, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob appealed to Singaporeans to remain in the country and join in the celebrations instead of travelling overseas.
"My appeal to Singaporeans is to please stay in Singapore during the long weekend. I understand that Singaporeans take the opportunity during periods of long weekends to chill out with their families overseas and on other occasions. That's all right," said Madam Halimah.
"But on this occasion, I hope that they will stay and really celebrate together as a nation.
"It will be really sad if a quarter of Singapore goes overseas to celebrate."
On Saturday, Aug 7 was declared a public holiday by the President as part of Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations.
The extra holiday falls on a Friday. With Monday already a holiday as National Day falls on a Sunday this year, Singapore will have a four-day Golden Jubilee weekend from Aug 7 to 10.
One can enjoy a 10-day holiday by taking the rest of the week off, some noted, and travel agencies are confident that their business will get a boost.
Madam Halimah said she hopes that the travel industry will support her call.
"I know the travel business will be affected, but I hope they will understand and see the reason why we are making this call. In Singapore, the Government does not declare public holidays willingly. It is really something that they thought about carefully," she said.
Singapore has 11 public holidays in a typical year - cut from 16 in 1968 to boost the country's economic competitiveness. Since then, extra public holidays have rarely been declared, except for elections.
"It is important that everybody come together and celebrate in their own way together with family, friends and neighbours and then, really, we have that real meaning of being part of a nation."
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