When Captain (CPT) (NS) Armar Syahid Bin Abdul Razak first received the offer of becoming an Honorary Aide-de-Camp (ADC), he wasn’t quite sure if he should take it up.
The 33-year-old, who works as a leading steward in Singapore Airlines, was afraid that he would not be able to juggle his time between his job – which required him to fly often – and ADC duties, along with his national service and family commitments.
"But my family kept encouraging me to go for it because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said the Officer Commanding (OC) of Rifle company from 769th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
And so he did. On 10 May, CPT (NS) Armar received his certificate of appointment from President Halimah Yacob in a ceremony held at the Istana.
Apart from working with Madam Halimah, the first-time appointee is looking forward to interacting with ambassadors from other countries.
"I meet a lot of people in my line of work and I learn about military tactics in the Army. But this is an opportunity to learn about diplomatic relations too.
"As a cabin crew, I'm an ambassador of Singapore. As an ADC, I'm now also an ambassador to the president. I'm excited to see what this role entails," said CPT (NS) Armar with a smile.
Among the 106 personnel from Singapore's military, police and civil defence forces, 49 officers and Military Experts (MEs) from the Singapore Armed Forces were re-appointed as Honorary ADCs, while eight were appointed for the first time.
As Honorary ADCs to the President, they help the full-time ADCs organise state events and receive guests who include senior officials and foreign dignitaries. These uniformed personnel volunteer their time and services while holding regular jobs and duties, and are reappointed annually.
During the ceremony, Madam Halimah thanked the Honorary ADCs and their families for the support they have given to the office. She was also appreciative of the warmth and hospitality that they showed to guests.
"Whether our guests leave the Istana with a positive experience depends very much on how well (you) have coordinated the event and how memorable their personal interactions with you have been."
Being an Honorary ADC requires a high level of commitment – first- and second-year appointees are expected to put in about 60 hours a year. For Major (MAJ) Rajpal Singh, 34, it's all about good time management and strong family and work support.
"As a Super Puma pilot with two young children, I have to handle my time well. I'm thankful for the support of my bosses and my wife," said the OC from the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s 125 Squadron.
"They recognise the importance of my duties, especially my wife, who understands when I'm unable to go home for dinner or have to spend my weekends at the Istana."
The third-year appointee enjoys his role, and said that getting up close and personal with Madam Halimah was one of the highlights of his duty. During a garden party, he saw how the President walked the grounds and interacted with children enthusiastically.
"It was encouraging to see how she's so down-to-earth… and it's very inspiring to see her do her job."
One of the advantages of being an Honorary ADC was making friends from the different Services and forces, as ME4 Joyce Tan found out.
The 36-year-old, who was appointed last year, treasures the close friendship and camaraderie among her fellow Honorary ADCs. They have yearly gatherings and are kept updated of each other's lives through chat groups.
"When faced with challenges, we will ask each other questions in the chat group. One of my batch mates just became a father and he shared the news with us – we were all happy for him!" said the divisional officer from Midshipman Wing in Officer Command School.
Over the past year, ME4 Tan has also become more confident. In the past, the soft-spoken lady was hesitant about striking a conversation with a stranger. Today, it’s a skill that comes naturally to her.
"From meeting foreign dignitaries to interacting with people from all walks of life, this is a meaningful role to take up. I'm privileged and honoured to serve the highest office in Singapore."