SINGAPORE – Scenes from the past and present lit up the Istana’s facade on Sunday (Oct 6) night in a light show that narrated the story of the building’s 150-year history.
The show was one of the highlights of the Istana 150 Commemorative Event, which saw 2,000 people flocking to the presidential residence, the first time the building has been opened to the public at night.
Hosted by President Halimah Yacob and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, the event marked the finale of a year-long commemoration of the Istana’s 150th anniversary.
Madam Halimah expressed her delight that many Singaporeans were able to join in the event, saying: “Many shared with me that they especially enjoyed the light show, as it was a rare opportunity to see the Istana all lighted up at night.”
She added: “I thank Singaporeans for their warm support of the series of commemorative events and activities held over the past year. I hope that they managed to learn more about the history and heritage of the Istana, and in that process better appreciate our Singapore story.”
Visitors to the event on Sunday were treated to live performances by local talents including Clement Chow, Rahimah Rahim, Tay Kewei and Nick Zavior, as well as the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
As night fell, a light show, projected on the facade of the Istana’s main building, told the story of its history and heritage over the years.
Completed in 1869, the Istana – or Government House, as it was then known – served as the official residence of colonial governors in Singapore. In 1959, when Singapore gained self-rule, it was renamed Istana Negara Singapura, which means Palace of the State of Singapore.
The name was shortened to its present form when Singapore became independent in 1965. It is now the official residence of the President of Singapore.
A series of commemorative events has been launched since the start of the year, including children’s books, cookies, and a roving exhibition.
More than 90,000 people have also visited the Istana over the past five open houses.
This is a 30 per cent increase from the average annual visitorship from previous years, said the President’s Office.
Tickets for Sunday’s event were fully snapped up within six hours of their release on Sept 13. Also present at the Istana on Sunday were Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Senior Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as well as Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
Former president Tony Tan and his wife Mary were also present, as were Puan Noor Aishah, the wife of first president Yusof Ishak, and Mrs Urmila Nathan, the wife of former president S. R. Nathan.
Last Friday, President Halimah also organised a special preview of the light show for beneficiaries of the President’s Challenge.
One of these was Madam Wan Petom Haris, 52, whose artwork of the Istana now features on souvenir bookmarks and magnets.
She had painted the building as she imagined it would look in the four seasons. “I wanted to show that no matter what, the building is tough and can stand strong,” she said.
Other commemorative souvenirs, including medallions and Istana models made with LEGO bricks, have also been launched over the past year, with proceeds going to charity through the President’s Challenge.
A three-part series of web videos which features the people who work at the Istana, produced in collaborating with The Straits Times, was also released in July.
SingPost will also be issuing the Istana 150th anniversary stamp set on Tuesday (Oct 8).