1,500 invited to Istana on Feb 9

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will invite 1,500 people from Singapore's pioneer generation to a garden party at the Istana on Feb 9, to honour those who helped build the nation in the early years of independence.

At that event, Mr Lee is also expected to unveil the Government's planned Pioneer Generation Package to help seniors pay for the cost of health care.

While he did not spell out what these pioneers will be receiving on Feb 9, Mr Lee - speaking to reporters after visiting 80 uniformed officers at the Queenstown Neighbourhood Police Centre and Alexandra Fire Station yesterday - said: "We cannot invite all of the people from this generation, because you are talking about hundreds of thousands.

"But I hope the people whom I have invited will be those who have made greater contributions and also those who are representative of this generation and the many different walks of life, and different responsibilities, professions and groups which worked together to build Singapore."

The invitees will include:

Former political leaders

Those who have contributed to the uniformed services, unions and community through non-government and voluntary welfare organisations.

Mr Lee added: "We are still working out the list, we want to make sure it is representative. We can't cover everybody but (those invited) are people who have made contributions or who represent groups who have been important in nation building."

The Government will also be organising other events to honour the rest of Singapore's pioneer generation this year.

Mr Lee noted yesterday that while the package is meant for the first generation who made today's Singapore, different measures will be in place to care for other seniors.

He said: "We will look after all our old people, and we will arrange for our old people to be able to look after themselves. But the first generation who brought us here, I think it is our responsibility to honour them.

"And the 50th anniversary of our independence is an appropriate occasion for us to make a gesture which will be meaningful and which, I hope, will be useful to them."

Yesterday, Mr Lee was accompanied by his wife Ho Ching and leaders of the labour movement, including NTUC secretary-general Lim Swee Say and president Diana Chia.

This is the first time Mr Lee and the labour movement have jointly visited uniformed personnel, who cannot be union members under the law, on the first day of the Chinese New Year.

After handing out mandarin oranges and cookies to the officers, Mr Lee thanked them for being on duty and "on the watch when the rest of us are peacefully celebrating Chinese New Year".

Alexandra Fire Station's Senior Warrant Officer II Azharee Arsad - who was one of the officers present at the visit - said: "We feel honoured he took time to visit. My team was very happy."

Get The New Paper for more stories.