DIARY: Dinner with the President of Singapore in London
I had the opportunity to be amongst 200 other Singaporeans at the Royal Garden Hotel in London on a Friday evening in late October, who were eagerly waiting for the arrival of the Singapore President Dr Tony Tan and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan. The dinner reception event was organized by the Singapore High Commission to commemorate the nation's historical first state visit to the UK.
With a rather busy schedule, both President Tan and his wife were officially invited as guests of Her Majesty The Queen from the 21 October to the 24 October 2014. The visit was scheduled to take place just under a year ahead of Singapore’s 50th birthday, as well as to commemorate our strong ties with the UK during this time.
As part of their itinerary, President Tan and Mrs Tan were first met by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and then joined a state carriage procession along The Mall to the Buckingham Palace with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. A group of Singaporeans cheered the royal procession as the carriages went past, and witnessed the Royal Salute as the Singapore National Anthem was played at the palace grounds. In the evening, the Queen hosted a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, and had apparently inspected each and every room prior to the event herself to make sure that everything was set-up to the highest standard. To read the Queen's speech, click here. For a peek behind-the-scenes, check out the High Comm's Facebook page.
Part of the itinerary was also for President Tan to meet groups of Singaporean students studying at University of Bristol and the Imperial College London. The President and his wife met over 80 Singaporean students in Bristol, where he launched the ‘SPHERE (Sensor Platform for Healthcare in a Residential Enviornment) eHealth Hackathon’, which is a competition for students to produce wearable technology devices that benefit healthcare. He then also witnessed the signing of the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between the University of Bristol and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which will be collaborating in research and new healthcare technologies between the UK and Singapore.
On his last day of visit, President Tan met around 400 Singaporean students studying at the Imperial College London. The university has strong collaborative research links with the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, a partnership with the NTU in Singapore. Additionally, Imperial College has also recently announced its new collaboration with the Singapore University of Technology and Design on cyber-security research. The world-class institution apparently has the largest number of Singaporean students, as compared to at any other university in the UK.
Finally, the President’s trip was rounded off by the dinner event that I had the pleasure to attend at the Royal Garden Hotel. During his speech, the President urged all Singaporeans, whether at home or abroad to celebrate SG50 to commemorate Singapore’s growth journey throughout the years, and also to continue establishing strong ties with family and friends both at home and abroad.
At the dinner event, I was also most honoured to have met the Minister of State, Dr Maliki Osman, and his lovely wife, Madam Sadiah, as well as other Singaporeans who have either represented our nation, or kept the ‘kampong spirit’ alive by organizing events catered to the Singaporean community living abroad. I even met an undergraduate student who was based in Alsace, France and had come all the way to London during his term break just for the dinner event.
If you too, would like to keep up to date with Singaporean events abroad, do check out the Overseas Singaporean Unit website for details.
A Singaporean globe-trotter who is now based in London. Khai has travelled and lived in several countries due to her airline background. She enjoys dancing, painting, cooking, taking scenic photographs and writing about her adventure travels.