24 ministers and MPs ready for Deepavali
Dressed in traditional Indian outfits, 24 Cabinet ministers and MPs posed for photos on the Parliament House lawn before last Monday's Parliament sitting.
The men were taking part in a fashion shoot showcasing Indian kurtas, jibba tops and dhotis, organised by the Tamil Murasu newspaper ahead of Deepavali, which falls on Oct 18.
In a video posted by Tamil Murasu on Facebook yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who wore a full-sleeved brown jippa top paired with black pants, said the MPs enjoyed themselves and some bought new clothes for the occasion.
"It comes very easily for us to put ourselves in the culture of one of the other Singapore communities," he said.
He added that he has been wearing sarongs at home every day since his late teenage years.
The DPM said he obtains the sarongs from India and Sri Lanka as they are made of natural cotton that is very suitable for hot weather.
Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair, who helped to gather the MPs for the event, said he was very happy that many of them came forward and put in the effort to dress in Indian attire, whether they be Chinese, Malay, Indian or Eurasian.
MPs from both sides of the House had gamely agreed to the photoshoot, though Workers' Party MPs Pritam Singh and Leon Perera could not make it in the end.
Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng wore a long-sleeved blue kurta top with a red shawl, which he bought on a recent grassroots outing to Tekka Market, while Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai wore a veshti and thundu, a towel worn on the shoulder, which he wore 21 years ago for his wedding.
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Saktiandi Supaat said it was harder than expected to don the veshti and jippa that he wore.
"Even though the veshti seems to be similar to the sarong, I realised from my first experience wearing it that one must have some practice to tie it," he told Tamil Murasu.
Tamil Murasu news editor Tamilavel said the photoshoot was a follow-up to a similar one the newspaper organised last year involving women MPs.
"It shows how multicultural Singaporeans are. We embrace each other's cultures, with the MPs setting an example," he said.