President Halimah bids farewell at Singapore National Day Parade


President Halimah Yacob taking a wefie with National Day Parade hosts and performers. - ST

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): President Halimah Yacob presided over the National Day Parade for the last time on Wednesday (Aug 9), concluding her sixth parade as the head of state.

Halimah, 68, arrived at the Padang at about 6.50pm, to applause and cheers from the gathered spectators.

Speaking to the media after the nation’s 58th birthday bash on Wednesday, Halimah said she felt emotional while waving to the 27,000-strong crowd.

Her eyes welled up as she said: “These are emotions which you cannot control.

“The terrible sense of sadness, but at the same time, a sense of inspiration when I look around me and saw how people are standing together, celebrating as one.”

Halimah first attended NDP as an MP for Jurong GRC in 2002, following the November 2001 General Election.

As Singapore’s eighth president, Halimah presided over her first parade in 2018, having assumed office in September 2017.

In May, she announced that she would not be seeking re-election at the upcoming Presidential Election due to be held in September.

Asked what were her top NDP moments, Halimah said it was hard to choose, but this year’s parade is special because it is the first full-fledged parade since the Covid-19 pandemic.

This parade’s interpretation of Total Defence as six large floats was also very relatable, as it used everyday items to explain why each of the pillars matter, she added.

At Wednesday’s parade, four 25-pounder howitzer guns fired 21 times in salute as Halimah reviewed the guard of honour contingents.

After inspecting the parade and interacting with some of the servicemen and women, Halimah made a lap around the Padang in a ceremonial vehicle, to much fanfare.

A special video montage was played on the screens, showcasing her involvement in NDPs from 2018, including over virtual events during Covid-19.

Halimah wore a resolute expression as parade commander Lieutenant-Colonel Ragumaran Davindran got her permission for the contingents to march off.

After the parade concluded and the national anthem was sung, Halimah went onto the Padang field and took wefies with some of the performers and artistes.

Speaking to reporters later, she said the national day parade always touches something inside each Singaporean.

“I think it’s not just me but everyone in Singapore, especially those who are in the audience, and there is a sense of purpose, unitedness, as we celebrate our independence and achievements,” she said.

“Whenever you come to NDP, you always feel so inspired, because, you know, there’s so many Singaporeans together, celebrating this really, truly momentous day, which is our National Day. So it’s been truly wonderful.”

First-time NDP spectator Malti Bhardwaj, 48, thanked Madam Halimah for her contributions to Singapore.

The housewife told The Straits Times at the Padang: “She has made us all proud as a woman, being our first woman president.

“I hope that she has set the benchmark, and in the future we’ll have more women presidents like her.”

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Singapore , Halimah , National Day , parade

   

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