Pioneers invited to Istana garden party

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is inviting 1,500 members of Singapore's pioneer generation to an Istana garden party next Sunday to honour those who helped build modern Singapore and contributed in its early years of independence.

The guests will include former political leaders as well as those who have contributed to the uniformed services, unions and community through non-government and voluntary welfare organisations, and Singapore's first national service enlistees and officer cadets.

Speaking to reporters after his traditional Chinese New Year visit to those working during the festive season last Friday, he said: "We cannot invite all of the people belonging to 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 in order to build Singapore."

As for those not invited, he expects there will be many more occasions in the coming year to pay tribute to them.

He is due to unveil at the Istana event the Government's planned Pioneer Generation Package to help seniors pay for health-care costs.

He said the package is for the first generation who made today's Singapore, and different measures will be in place for other seniors.

"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, that 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, I hope, will be useful to them."

Last Friday, Mr Lee visited more than 80 uniformed personnel at the Queenstown Neighbourhood Police Centre and Alexandra Fire Station who had finished their night shift or were starting their duty.

With him were his wife Ho Ching and union leaders including NTUC secretary-general Lim Swee Say and president Diana Chia.

They gave out mandarin oranges and cookies, and tossed yu sheng to usher in the Year of the Horse.

Mr Lee thanked the officers for being on duty while everyone else was celebrating the festival. He also praised them for their training, dedication and professionalism that enable them to respond to emergencies, including the Dec 8 Little India riot.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Zheng Ruilin, 27, had an early reunion dinner at 5pm last Thursday and was at the neighbourhood police centre by 6.50pm to supervise his team of 18 officers.

"We want to ensure all our families can celebrate the festive season in peace," he said.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.