SINGAPORE - Teck Ghee in Ang Mo Kio GRC yesterday hosted a "bring your own bag" event with a difference.
The special guest was the ward's Member of Parliament, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who brought 20 plastic bags and joined 500 residents and volunteers in turning the bags into flowers.
The event kicked off the People's Association's (PA's) effort to get people islandwide to craft one million flowers from used bags, as a way to show their love for the nation as it approaches its 50th birthday next year.
The flowers, which represent people's wishes for Singapore, will eventually be part of a gigantic "flower bed", which will be displayed at the opening of Chingay 2015, to be held on Feb 27 and 28 at the F1 Pit Building.
The PA is inviting groups across the island to take part, including schools, businesses, faith groups, clan and immigrant associations, and ordinary households.
After Chingay next year, the "flowers" will be shown at the PAssionArts Festival next April.
They will then be sold to recycling firms to be turned into flower pots or new bags.
For some of the participants yesterday, their wishes for the nation ahead of a half-century of independence were tinged with gratitude for Singapore's journey.
"I feel happy that Singapore has reached 50 years without too many conflicts," said transport officer Habel Low, 64.
"I wish for harmony and stability, especially with our multiracial society. We have to give and take and tolerate one another."
Teck Ghee Primary pupil Lim Yin Kang, 12, had just two wishes: for the country to remain a safe place to live, and for it to become "less stressful" for students.
Others wished for a more environmentally conscious Singapore and close-knit communities.
Mr Low said that ultimately, he worries about the cost of living and hopes that his two sons, aged 26 and 17, will "get jobs and a place to stay".
As for PM Lee, who made five flowers, he seemed to have babies on his mind. Just before giving out prizes at the Teck Ghee Baby Show, which was held alongside the event, he told the new parents present that raising children is "one of the greatest joys" in life.
He quipped: "I hope that next year when we have a baby show, you will come back. This group of babies may be too old, but I hope you have a new group of babies to participate next year."
This article was published on April 28 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.