Opening Remarks at the Official Launch of “Our Istana – Through The Years”

Ladies and Gentlemen

My wife and I are pleased to welcome you to the Istana for the launch of the book “Our Istana - Through the Years”. 

I had commissioned this book as Istana’s contributions to the SG50 celebrations. The Istana, which was built in the mid eighteen hundreds, is an iconic site deeply entwined in Singapore’s remarkable history of growth and development.

Prior to the production of this book, four publications on the Istana had been commissioned to document the history of the building and its architecture, its gardens and trees, and the bird life found at the Istana grounds.  

As we commemorate fifty years of nation building, I thought it would be appropriate to supplement these publications on the Istana with a book to capture memories of people who had passed through the Istana gates over the years.

For this project, the writer interviewed Singaporeans from a range of occupations and backgrounds, including Puan Noor Aishah, the wife of our first President Yusof Ishak, Mr Winston Choo, the first Aide-de-Camp to the President, former and current staff of the Istana and various agencies, recipients of various awards at the Istana, and members of the public who visited the Istana at our Open Houses. 

The photographs in this book were compiled from various sources, including the National Archives and the SPH. Mr Russel Wong’s pictures from the Istana Art Collection are featured with photographs from the public such as blogger Nicholas Yau, and former President’s Scout Dr Mohd Effendy.

I was struck by how the stories and photos gathered give the reader an insight into not only the changes that had occurred in the Istana, but also how the Istana’s evolution reflects Singapore’s development through the years in various areas such as foreign relations, community development and the arts and sports sectors. 

The materials in this book add to the repository of SG50 materials which document Singapore’s progress since our independence.

The Istana is not just a heritage building or an institution, but an important part of our shared history and identity.   

To continue building on this collection of Istana memories, selected photos from this book will be shared on Instagram with the hashtag “ouristana”, and all Singaporeans can ride on this to share their photos of the Istana as well.

Members of the public who would like to have a hardcopy of the book may place an order for it. In recognition of our Pioneer Generation’s contributions to nation-building, proceeds from the sale of hardcopies will go to the President’s Challenge Senior Volunteer Fund.  The book will also be available for free download on the Istana website.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all of you present today have given generously to the production of this book by contributing your time and resources. 

We would like to thank you for your contributions to the production of this book and look forward to interacting with you later to hear your stories and memories of the Istana.

Thank you.