Two former First Ladies attend Girl Guides event

Former First Lady Puan Noor Aishah (centre, in blue), being accompanied by Girl Guides Singapore (GGS) president Joy Balakrishnan (in sleeveless white top), GGS chief commissioner Kim Lay Eng (right, in white), and GGS international commissioner Tan Ngee Tiang (left), at the World Thinking Day 2015 event held at Methodist Girls' School

Two former First Ladies - Puan Noor Aishah and Mrs Wee Kim Wee - showed up in a rare public appearance yesterday evening to start a campfire in support of Girl Guides Singapore (GGS).

The two former patrons joined more than 3,500 guides in the Republic in celebrating World Thinking Day at Methodist Girls' School.

The event started with Puan Noor Aishah, 81, walking through a corridor formed by some 50 guides and brownies.

The widow of Mr Yusof Ishak, Singapore's first president, was accompanied by Mrs Joy Balakrishnan, the president of GGS and wife of Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

She then joined Mrs Wee, 98, at their table, where she greeted her and held her hand.

Ms Chang Hwee Nee, who is expected to take over the reins from Mrs Balakrishnan in May, attended the event too. She is the wife of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

The women were each presented with a blue scarf, lined with the nation's colours of red and white, and held together by a woggle with the word SG50 as a gift.

Puan Noor Aishah also received an album with 50 of her photos, cataloguing her journey with the guides, presented to her by Mrs Balakrishnan.

At about 7pm, Puan Noor Aishah lit the campfire, with Mrs Wee observing from the sidelines, and stayed for a few songs with the girls before leaving.

A former GGS chief commissioner, Dr Eileen Aw, 76, told The Sunday Times that being thrifty was a value imparted from the guides and was hardwired into her since she first joined them 65 years ago.

"I've never looked back since," the retired doctor said.

The annual event is themed "Celebrating SG50; Commemorating Our Roots" in honour of the nation's golden jubilee this year.

The Boys' Brigade also celebrated its 85th anniversary at the Singapore Expo yesterday.

At the event, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat paid tribute to the Boy's Brigade and said that the organisation has been critical in nurturing leaders across society.

And while Singapore has grown in stature, it is still subject to the volatile external environment.

The pioneer generation did much to overcome the country's limitations and set the foundations for the country's success.

But the country's future success will depend on the resilience and resourcefulness of its youth.

Said Mr Heng: "The word 'confidence' is the belief that we can have faith in the future of Singapore, which will be in the hands of today's youth; the leaders of tomorrow."


This article was first published on March 1, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.