Monday 10 August 2015

SG50: Singapore celebrates Golden Jubilee

Singapore roars with Jubilee joy
More than 200,000 people throng Marina Bay area to catch parade and enjoy festivities
By Zakir Hussain, Deputy Political Editor, The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

Singaporeans turned out in force to mark the nation's 50th birthday yesterday, from joining solemn observance ceremonies across the island in the morning to taking in aerial displays over the Marina Barrage at noon, culminating with a grand parade at the Padang in the evening.

Befitting the milestone, over 200,000 people, many dressed in red and white, thronged the Marina Bay area to catch the highlight of the Golden Jubilee celebrations - the National Day Parade - mostly on large screens and enjoy the festivities. As the three-hour parade drew to a close, the crowds sang in unison to the evergreen lyrics of Dick Lee's Home.

They were joined by hundreds of thousands of all races watching the live broadcast at community centres and in their homes - as well as overseas Singaporeans on six continents - for the Pledge moment.

Hands on hearts, they committed themselves to work together "as one united people".

Some 1,200 parade performers then formed an illuminated mosaic of the national flag on the Padang while those gathered in the gleaming heart of modern Singapore sang along to a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and marvelled at the record five-minute fireworks display, the country's biggest and boldest to date. Celebrations continued around the Bay into the night.

In a Facebook post capturing the jubilant mood nationwide, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "Today the whole nation celebrates. Glad so many are joining in at all the events. We celebrate as One People, One Nation, One Singapore."

Yesterday's celebrations began on a reflective note as residents flocked to 82 community and grassroots observance ceremonies.

Public warning sirens heralded the 9am broadcast of a poignant recording of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew reading the Proclamation of Singapore.

Fifty years earlier, the Proclamation of Singapore's independence read by radio anchor Steven Lee told a shocked nation that they were no longer part of Malaysia but would "be forever a sovereign democratic and independent nation".

Mr Lee Kuan Yew did not announce the Separation at the time because, as he put it in his memoirs, he had "too many other things to do in quick succession". To make up for it, he agreed to a recording of him reading the Proclamation three years ago.

Hearing that recording - months after Mr Lee's death on March 23 at the age of 91 saw an outpouring of grief - moved many, including auditor Jayapal Ramasamy, 58, who was at a ceremony in Ang Mo Kio GRC's Teck Ghee ward attended by PM Lee. "It gave me goose pimples. I was only eight in 1965, and it was a reminder of the numerous challenges our founding leaders faced back then," he said.

Retired food stall operator Mohamed Ali, 73, and his wife Absah Hassan, 65, were also touched. The couple tied the knot a few months after Separation, in December 1965, and recalled how Mr Lee's conviction and firm tone whenever he spoke at the time helped reassure many about the nation's future.

Mr Mohamed said: "We may have had our doubts about coping on our own then, but as the years go by and especially today, I am glad that Singapore went our own way."

Marking 50 years of progress

In Mr Lee's former Tanjong Pagar GRC, some 6,000 residents lined Lower Delta Road in a reprise of how they bid him farewell.

Said Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah: "The whole of Mr Lee's life was dedicated to building Singapore, keeping her strong, safe, sovereign. When you hear the Proclamation, it encapsulates all of that... It is everything we stand for and it is everything we hope to be."

While the morning festivities were a reminder of national identity and sovereignty, they were also about the importance of family and traditions. Many had mini-carnivals with a touch of nostalgia, and grandparents joined their children and grandchildren to sample food and games dating back to the 1960s, from traditional kueh to five stones.

In Marine Parade, residents wore costumes of yesteryear to recreate the atmosphere of five decades ago, as did a section of those marching at the main parade.

At the Padang, Mr Lee's absence was marked by an empty seat in his honour. On it were two sprays of the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew, a greenish golden yellow orchid hybrid named after Mr Lee following his death. A video paying tribute to Mr Lee's life and achievements was played as the spectators fell silent, some wiping away tears.

As the reel ended, the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Black Knights soared overhead in a "five-star" salute formation. The stars, like those on the flag, symbolise the ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

Three surviving Old Guard leaders out of the 10 ministers who signed the agreement on Singapore's independence in 1965 were honoured, and sat beside Mr Lee's empty seat: Mr Othman Wok, 90, Mr Jek Yeun Thong, 85, and Mr Ong Pang Boon, 86.

At the parade were leaders and representatives from 17 fellow East Asia Summit members and the United Kingdom, including Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam hosted lunch for Singapore's foreign friends, and thanked them for their "steadfast support and friendship through the decades".

"As we stand on the cusp of a new era, we look forward to further deepening relations with you. Thank you for making the Singapore Story possible," Dr Tan added.

PM Lee wrote on Facebook: "We have come far in 50 years. While we enjoy today's prosperity and progress, never forget how hard we worked to get here. What we have is special and precious, and must never be taken for granted."

Echoing the words of the Pledge, he said: "Today we sang Majulah Singapura proudly. To still do so in 50 years' time, let us work together as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, for the happiness, prosperity and progress of our nation."

The Straits Times rounds rounds up 11 of the highlights from Sunday's Golden Jubilee celebration
Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, August 9, 2015

SG 50 - 9 AM
A moment of reflection
At observance ceremonies, seniors recall shock of separation, MPs rally all to emulate elders
The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

A palpable hush fell over 82 National Day observance ceremonies islandwide yesterday morning as public warning sirens blared and the familiar tenor of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's voice pierced the air.

"Whereas it is the inalienable right of a people to be free and independent...," started the man who, in the early 1960s, had drummed up support for merger with Malaysia and, barely two years later, broke down as he spoke of separation from the Federation.

The momentous occasion, at 9am yesterday, marked the first time Singaporeans got to hear its founding Prime Minister read the Proclamation of Singapore.

He had not been able to do so in 1965, leaving the duty to radio announcer Steven Lee as he had "too many other things to do", Mr Lee recalled in his memoir. But he agreed to do a recording three years ago.

Singapore's 50th birthday is also its first without Mr Lee, who died in March at age 91.

About 6,000 residents from Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru and Tanglin-Cairnhill constituencies gathered as early as 7am to...
Posted by The People's Association on Sunday, August 9, 2015

But hearing him brought back memories for an older generation of Singaporeans, some of whom choked back tears as they recalled the uncertain times.

Mr Satwant Singh, 67, a lifelong resident of Tanjong Pagar GRC, where the late Mr Lee had been MP for 60 years, said: "I heard the Pro-clamation 50 years ago; I still remember it was at 10am.

"I was shocked hearing it on the radio because I didn't expect it to happen: Singapore getting thrown out of Malaysia."

The administrator at a security firm added: "I saw the flag at the police station come down after hearing the Proclamation."

Retired sales assistant Helen Chan, 62, who was in Jurong West, said: "When we were separated from Malaysia, we didn't just split from another country. We also split up friends and families."

The clip was also a timely reminder of how far the country has come, for a young generation of citizens.

In Bedok, Secondary 1 student Layla Hanna Kocak, 13, said: "I feel very proud of our 50 years of independence. It's all because of everyone working together that has made Singapore possible."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was at the ceremony at Teck Ghee in Ang Mo Kio GRC, where he is MP, rallied Singaporeans to continue building on the foundations laid by the pioneer generation.

"They worked hard to give us - their children - a better Singapore and brighter prospects.

"They worked hard to make sure that that dream came true, that it wasn't just ideas, but realities, which they created," he said.

Exhorting the young to embody the fighting spirit of our forefathers, he added: "I believe the next generation will be able to do even better than us, to make Singapore more prosperous, to maintain our unique place in the world and the shine of our little red dot."

The drizzly morning did not dampen the celebratory mood of Singaporeans. Thousands turned up at grassroots ceremonies in the national colours of red and white.

Each ceremony marked the Golden Jubilee in its own way, be it through sports like the Great Singapore Workout in Bedok or a Pioneer Generation run in Sembawang; nostalgic sights like residents dressed up as samsui women in Jurong West and Marine Parade; or tributes such as a flower bed in Tampines.

Tampines GRC MP Heng Swee Keat, who is Minister for Education, said of Mr Lee's passing: "(It) brought a deep sense of unity among our people, and a deep sense that Singapore is our home."

In Tanjong Pagar, 6,000 residents lined Lower Delta Road as the Proclamation recording was aired.

In March, they had done so out of grief as they sent Mr Lee off on his final journey. Yesterday, they did so in a symbolic gesture of strength, unity and a shared commitment to Singapore's future.

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah, who is Senior Minister of State for Education and Law, said yesterday: "I hope that it will remind Singaporeans not just how far we have come, but also that we have a new chapter in Singapore's history to write for this new generation, and we will write it together."

Travel agent Lee Chee Ming, 46, said the recording had resonated with him and his family as they listened to it in Teck Ghee.

His 10-year-old daughter, Chantal, has already raised the subject of SG100 with him. And he told her: "It will all depend on you, and your generation, when you grow up."

One united people, regardless of creed
The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

More than 1,000 religious leaders and members from 10 faiths, many dressed in religious attire, gathered to mark National Day at the Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple in Paya Lebar yesterday.

They said silent prayers for the nation, sang the National Anthem and recited the Pledge - hands on their hearts - vowing to remain "one united people, regardless of race, language or religion".

Joining them in the special inter-faith ceremony organised by the Taoist Federation and the temple, in partnership with the People's Association and the Inter-Religious Organisation, was former president S R Nathan.

Mr Nathan, 91, said that for such racial harmony to prevail in the next 50 years, the younger generation has to learn to live together despite differences. He told reporters: "Our young must learn how to tolerate each other - each other's religion, each other's race, each other's language, and think of ourselves as Singaporean."

Mr Nathan, who suffered a stroke in April this year and walked with some help, said that his health is improving, and that he can walk short distances now.

He recounted the fear of people in Singapore when they heard the Proclamation of Singapore over the radio in 1965.

"The feeling then was, 'What are we going to do? We have got two million people to feed. We have no economy. How are we going to survive?'" he said.

Today, 50 years on, he is glad that Singapore can tell the world that it has the strength to stand on its own feet.

In a short speech at the ceremony, Mr Nathan also said it is the indomitable will of the people, together with determined leadership, that has brought the country forward.

"In the next 50 years, let us show others why the same indomitable sprit will also take us to the next 50 years," he said.

Separately, special prayers were held at places of worship such as the Sree Maha Mariamman Temple in Yishun. The session was for Singapore to continue to excel, a representative said at the session attended by Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah and 400 worshippers.

SG 50 6 PM
In memory of Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Film tribute to founding PM left many in tears, as Singaporeans recall his legacy in first parade without him
By Yeo Sam Jo, Lim Yi Han and Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

Yesterday's National Day Parade (NDP) marked not just the nation's Golden Jubilee, but also its first parade without Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

The absence of the nation's founding father was keenly felt when cameras panned to his empty seat and the orchids that took his place.

The Aranda Lee Kuan Yew, a bright golden yellow orchid with a green tinge, was named after Mr Lee following his death in March.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong wrote in a Facebook post: "He was not there but his presence was palpable. I imagined Mr Lee Kuan Yew feeling nostalgic, joyful, proud and confident about Singapore's future.

"This is his last parade."

<<NDP 2015 – Looking Forward with a Tribute to LKY>>We received many compliments for the NDP and co-celebrations...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen on Sunday, August 9, 2015

A sombre three-minute film tribute to Mr Lee brought many in the audience, including politicians, to tears. "I was crying so much during the tribute," said private tutor Sherley Williams-Servos, 44.

"He's the main architect of Singapore's success. It's the least we can do for him."

Dr Lily Neo, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, where Mr Lee served as MP, was also in tears. "I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed with emotion," she said. "I am so thankful to Mr Lee for his whole life's dedication to ensure Singapore's success and I miss him dearly."

Fellow Tanjong Pagar GRC MP, Dr Chia Shi-Lu, said: "I think no-one was left untouched by the tribute."
The parade's multimedia director, film-maker Boo Junfeng, said the tribute was strung together from different documentaries.

It was set against NDP creative director Dick Lee's stripped-down rendition of this year's National Day song, Our Singapore.

"The key challenge was in differentiating the tribute at NDP from the films that have already been seen many times during the mourning period," said Mr Boo, 31.

"(It) is meant for everyone at the Padang to say that we miss him."

The tribute to Mr Lee also took to the skies, in the form of a "Five Stars" fly-past salute by the Republic of Singapore Air Force's aerobatics team, the Black Knights.

The five F-16s represented Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality. It was a fitting salute, especially given that the Black Knights were unable to honour Mr Lee with their "Missing Man" formation on his funeral day due to rainy weather.

Referring to clips of Mr Lee speaking, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam said: "Mr Lee Kuan Yew's words always move.

"They went to the heart of why Singapore came to be, why it is special 50 years on and what we have to keep reminding ourselves of as we make our future."

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was Mr Lee's principal private secretary from 1997 to 2000, said he was moved that Mr Lee's fellow pioneer leaders - Mr Othman Wok, Mr Jek Yeun Thong and Mr Ong Pang Boon - joined the parade. "If Mr Lee saw the parade, I think he would have had a deep sense of satisfaction at our progress and said, 'Well done, our people can achieve great things when we work together.'

"Then he would say, 'Life goes on, let's get back to our work of keeping Singapore and Singaporeans safe, stable and happy'," he added.

"The best tribute we can pay to Mr Lee, and our pioneers who gave us the first 50 years, is to stay united and commit ourselves to do our best for Singapore."

Retiree Tan Bee Leng, 64, said: "The fact that we are here celebrating 50 years is something to be happy about. Rather than feel sad that (Mr Lee) is not here, we should remember what he has done for us."

An island rocks all day
Singaporeans revel in Golden Jubilee festivities not just in city hub but across heartland too
The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

The Marina Barrage was a sea of red yesterday, as Singaporeans donned red outfits and came out in force to catch the action up close.

They were in the barrage area in the morning for the daredevil aerobatics of the Black Knights, and they were there in the evening for the fireworks extravaganza.

"It was a last-minute decision, but we quickly did our research and thought we should take our children here," said teacher Noor Aidil, 39, who was at the barrage with his wife and two sons, aged six and three.

"It's been a wonderful 50 years of rapid development. Let's hope for 50 more," he said.

Black Knights@SG50 Aerial Display!
Hey Singapore #ICYMI! Missed our #BlackKnights aerial display that took place over the Jubilee weekend? Fret not! Here's the 25-minute full show cut down to the Best of the Best! This is specially done for our fans who have missed it and for many of you who can't get enough of it! For those who turned up, thank you for your support!What's your favourite manoeuvre of all? Like and Share away!#SAF50 #SG50 Singapore50
Posted by The Republic of Singapore Air Force on Thursday, August 13, 2015

About 67,000 people visited the Marina Barrage yesterday, according to estimates by the Public Utilities Board. And in the afternoon, it was standing-room-only on the facility's Green Roof.

Many families got there early to lay out picnic mats, fly kites and spend the Golden Jubilee afternoon lounging away.

It was a major family outing for some. The Lins, for instance, were out on the Green Roof - all 26 of them from across four generations.

They were all dressed in a white "family T-shirt" specially designed for the occasion.

"Every year, we wear a different shirt. We feel this really unites our family," said hairstylist Jason Lin, 43, adding that this year is the family's third on the Green Roof.

Later in the evening, the crowd whooped, cheered and went wild as RSAF aircraft thundered above them once more.

"Every time I see the flypast - I can't describe it, but this sense of pride just wells up inside me," said project manager Michael Tong, 51, who was there with his teenage daughter and wife.

Over at the Botanic Gardens, Singaporeans started streaming in from 7am to join in the festivities.

Many spent the day visiting carnival booths, where they could get their faces painted, munch on traditional snacks and try out childhood games such as five stones.

Trade executive Vijaya Barathi, 30, took her two children, aged nine and six, for a picnic on the lawn near the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage.

"In the future, when there is an SG100, they can share memories of this special day with their own children," she said.

Housewife Sandra Wong, 42, was at the Gardens as well, with her two daughters.

"I feel happy to call Singapore my home, and I want to teach my two girls to be grateful for how far we have come," she said.

"I want my girls to carry these values into the future, and contribute meaningfully to our country."

Meanwhile, spirits were high in the heartland too, as many gathered to watch a live screening of the National Day Parade.

At Serangoon Community Park, more than 200 residents sang along to National Day songs, waving Singapore flags enthusiastically.

Programme manager Phua Soo Ngern, 48, was there with her husband Liew Kok Seng, 50.

She said: "I came here for the atmosphere. I thought the parade was excellent."

...and overseas too with live NDP telecast
The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

Overseas Singaporeans from South Korea to the United States joined in the Golden Jubilee celebrations over the weekend with parties involving friends, family and, of course, food.

Some, like New York-based photographer Juliana Tan, 26, stayed up till the wee hours of the morning to watch the National Day Parade (NDP) live.

"I guess there's more nostalgia when you're away," she said, adding that her favourite part was the vintage march-past.

"It's very heartwarming to see the pioneer generation being part of the parade. It's also a great reminder of how young Singapore is. In one generation, we've come so far!"

Even as various Singapore embassies hosted official National Day functions, many Singaporeans celebrated on a smaller scale.

In China, about 100 Singaporeans tuned in to a live telecast of the NDP at a Harry's Bar in Suzhou, at an event held by the Suzhou Singapore Club. They ended the night by setting off a round of fireworks.

Mr Ching Keng Ghee, 51, general manager of an aerospace company, said this was the first time he watched the parade live in his 18 years in Suzhou, where he is based with his wife and two daughters, aged 21 and 22.

"We bought the SG50 polo shirts from Giordano in Singapore to wear for National Day," he said. "Fifty years is a milestone and we wish Singapore a very prosperous future and many good years to come."

Yesterday, the Singapore Club Seoul also screened the parade live at a serviced apartment. More than 60 Singaporeans turned up.

The club's president, Ms Chua Pei Chi, said: "This is the first time we've held a live screening.

"It's very meaningful to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday overseas with fellow Singaporeans."

The 38-year-old, who runs a trading business in Seoul, added: "I miss food like roti prata, dim sum and wonton noodles."

Yesterday, students from the University of Western Australia in Perth held a carnival with face-painting, games and a singalong of National Day songs.

"Everyone was so united and the spirit was amazing," said 24-year-old undergraduate Aarti Gupta. "I am so proud of how far our country has come, and the best part of it is being more than contented that wherever in the world I may be, Singapore stands as No. 1."

Reports around the world on SG50
The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2015

International newspapers and media outlets reported on Singapore's Golden Jubilee, with most noting the Republic's remarkable progress in 50 years.

The Wall Street Journal featured Singapore's history in pictures - displaying photos of moments such as founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew shedding tears during the news conference after Singapore's separation from Malaysia, and Singapore Airlines' inaugural flight.

The Economist's Expresso edition, which carries daily bite-sized news, ran an online story headlined "Golden Divorce: Singapore at 50".

The occasion will remind Singaporeans "how well they have done against the odds", the Economist wrote, adding that the Golden Jubilee celebrations "will be one hell of a 50th birthday party".

Some international broadcasters decided to focus instead on the lighter aspects of the Republic's 50th-birthday celebrations.

For instance, American news network CNN published an online list of 50 things to love about Singapore - including the hybrid language of Singlish, which combines English, dialect and other languages, as well as quirky behaviour, such as using packets of tissue paper to reserve seats at hawker centres.

CNBC ran an online report on cool products that have sprouted up in celebration of SG50 - such as a board game called Game of Chope and a smartphone application that directs users to historical places of interest in Singapore.

Closer to home, The Star Online ran an essay by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong headlined "Separate but mutually prospering".

"Singapore and Malaysia have found ways to live and work together since parting 50 years ago," Mr Lee wrote in the newspaper.

Bernama news wire reported that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak - accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and senior officials - attended the National Day Parade.

The Sydney Morning Herald carried an online article describing the Republic's journey through tumultuous times, noting that "Singapore has thrived by joining spiritual values with respect for the rule of law".

Agence France-Presse (AFP) wrote that Mr Lee's absence from the parade would be marked by a bouquet of flowers placed on his seat, and a five-minute video tribute about his life and political career played at the start of the event.

AFP added that the People's Action Party, which Mr Lee co-founded, has "ruled uninterrupted since independence, and is widely credited with turning Singapore into one of the world's richest countries", but has also been criticised for silencing free speech.

A carnival to bond 'one united people'
PM hails multicultural society at National Day event organised by Malay/Muslim groups
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 9 Aug 2015

As a dikir barat performance unfolded on stage to the thunderous beat of Malay drums, children flocked to stalls to have their faces painted and their hands decorated with little henna swirls and flowers.

They were at a National Day observance ceremony and carnival organised by some 30 Malay/Muslim groups and partner organisations to bring people from various communities together in celebration of Singapore's Golden Jubilee.

As a 1,500-strong crowd watched, many with smartphones in the air to capture the moment, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong struck a beduk, a traditional Malay drum, kicking off the festivities to applause.

In a short speech in Malay and English, Mr Lee paid tribute to the pioneer generation and successive generations for helping build a harmonious multiracial society, where each group maintains its culture and traditions while coming together to forge one Singapore identity.

He noted how 50 years ago, the people of Singapore "were determined to build a multiracial society, where every citizen is equal, regardless of race, language or religion".

"It was why we left Malaysia. It was the fundamental reason for Singapore to exist as a nation."

Five decades on, Singaporeans have succeeded in building a harmonious, multiracial society.

"We kept the faith between Government and the people," he said.

Mr Lee noted that people had high expectations of the Government, and the Government, on its part, did its best to serve the people.

"Together, we have journeyed from the Third World to First, and that's why today, we can be happy to celebrate SG50," he added.

He also noted that the event was an important and significant way to mark Singapore's 50th birthday.

While Malay/Muslim groups took the lead to organise the event, self- help groups from the other major communities - the Chinese Development Assistance Council, Sinda and the Eurasian Association - were also part of the festivities.

Said Mr Lee: "It shows the success of our multiracial society, it shows that our minorities are confident of our place in Singapore and proud of our nation. It shows that all of us can stand together as Singaporeans celebrating SG50, and making Singapore succeed as one united people.

"Long may we continue to be successful, long may this peace and harmony continue, and long may we go forward as one united people."

Mr Lee and Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim visited stalls set up by community groups showcasing their activities over the years. They also put the finishing touches on two batik pieces, guided by veteran artist Sarkasi Said, who was teaching the traditional art form to children from Jamiyah Children's Home.

Dr Yaacob, who is Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, told reporters: "This is a truly multiracial event that captures the essence of what we are all about. After 50 years, we have been able to strengthen our social fabric, and I think this is an exemplification of the values that we hold dear.

"The whole basis of multiculturalism has to be reaffirmed, and doing so on the eve of National Day, when we celebrate our 50th anniversary, is timely and very meaningful for all Singaporeans."

The event saw performers from various backgrounds, and the recitation of the Pledge was led by football legend Fandi Ahmad.

As Mr Ken Tan, 28, headed for a second helping of putri salat, a Malay snack, he said his grandmother, who lived through the 1964 race riots, was thankful to see how far Singapore has come since. "Having celebrations like this where we can all be together is something I take for granted. But she tells me it took a lot of work to get to this," he said.

And Victoria Junior College's Nikhil Godsay, 17, was optimistic about the younger generation, pointing out that "when we come together, race and religion are nothing. We're just Singaporeans".

Happy #SG50! Today the whole nation celebrates. Glad so many are joining in at all the events. We celebrate as One...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pioneers celebrated at National Day dinners
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 9 Aug 2015

The pioneer generation of Singaporeans and the country's founding leaders were celebrated at National Day dinners across the island last night, where ministers and MPs called on Singaporeans to emulate their grit and determination which made it possible for the country to celebrate its Golden Jubilee.

At a Moulmein-Kallang GRC and Whampoa SMC dinner in Farrer Park Field attended by 6,500 residents and community leaders, the pioneers among them were invited to stand by guest-of-honour Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Lee then called on the audience to give them a round of applause, saying: "We are here today because our pioneer generation set us on this path. They sacrificed, they slogged, they worked and built today's Singapore.

"Therefore, when we celebrate SG50, we remember the pioneer generation, we thank them, we honour them, we salute them."

It was the pioneer generation led by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his team who decided they would make the effort and show the world what Singapore can do, PM Lee added.

Today's Singaporeans should have the same determination to build up and improve the country, and "take it into SG100", he said.

His comments were echoed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

Mr Teo told 4,000 residents at a dinner in Punggol that 50 years ago, Singapore's future was uncertain as it was a fractious society divided by race and labour issues.

"Those were tough times. But our pioneer generation and Singaporeans down the generations made the right choices. And what did they choose? They chose unity over division," he said.

These choices were not automatic outcomes but critical decisions urged on and encouraged by the political leadership - Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said Mr Teo.

"But it was also a decision, a choice which Singaporeans made about the future they wanted. A future which is harmonious, a future which is united, and a future in which we progress together," he said.

"If... we spend all our time... and all our energy in conflict with each other, we will not make progress. But when we unite... we are unbeatable," he added.

Elsewhere, at a carnival in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC's Cashew ward, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore's greatest achievement is in translating the ideal of multiracialism and equal opportunity for all into reality.

"This massive transformation that the pioneer generation effected, our next generation will have to do the same," he said, when asked for his wish for Singapore.

PM Lee, in his speech, also noted that the current batch of MPs and grassroots leaders has been consistently working hard over the years to improve the lives of residents. And though Moulmein-Kallang GRC and Whampoa SMC will see their boundaries change at the general election, Mr Lee assured residents that whatever their constituency, his team of MPs would take care of them.

"However the boundaries are drawn, I hope you will work together, give your support to the grassroots advisers... so that together we can make Singapore better, together we can celebrate many more happy National Days to come," he added.

Additional reporting by Lim Yi Han and Adrian Lim

People out in force on action-packed eve
Amid the celebrations, volunteers churn out 1,800 breakfast sets for needy residents
By Olivia Ho, The Straits Times, 9 Aug 2015

A heavy morning downpour yesterday gave way to bright afternoon skies, as people across Singapore turned out in full force for jubilee events on the eve of National Day.

Some were up even before the crack of dawn. From 5.30am, 120 volunteers at Eunos Community Centre toasted bread, spread butter and kaya, and cooked scrambled eggs, churning out 1,800 breakfast sets for needy residents.

They then braved torrential rain to deliver the breakfasts to beneficiaries from 50 organisations, including Trans Family Service Centre (Bedok) and Ju Eng Home for Senior Citizens.

Part-time cleaner Wong Bee Loo, 66, who helped to toast the bread on a makeshift charcoal grill, said: "It makes me very happy to do this with my neighbours. I love how we are all volunteering together, right before SG50."

Food also brought locals and foreigners together at a cookout, organised by social enterprise Geylang Adventurers, for migrant workers at their Woodlands dormitory.

The 80 foreign workers and 40 Singaporean volunteers whipped up dishes such as curry chicken and mee rebus, and took part in a watermelon-carving competition.

Geylang Adventurers founder Cai Yinzhou, 24, who is helming a second cookout tomorrow, said he wanted "to commemorate the lesser-sung heroes who have built our nation in a physical way".

For instance, he said, a Singaporean participant had discovered that his new flat was a project the migrant workers in his cooking team had worked on. "He got to say 'Thank you for building my HDB'."

The stormy morning raised concerns about the weather prospects for today's National Day Parade (NDP), which begins at 5.40pm. Last night, the National Environment Agency's website predicted thundery showers after 6pm.

Responding to media queries, the NDP executive committee said the parade "will proceed as planned if there are passing showers over the Padang". However, in the event of inclement weather, including heavy rain or high lightning risk, the committee "may decide to truncate certain parts of the parade".

In another statement yesterday, it added that the NDP backdrop and the decorations on the National Gallery facade will remain up until the end of tomorrow, to allow more people to take photos.

Despite yesterday's wet start, the afternoon saw the sun beating down again, as the slopes around the Botanic Gardens Symphony Lake filled up with picnickers eager to catch the Singapore Lyric Opera performing numbers such as the National Day classic Home.

IT executive Wong Yew Seng, 42, who was there with his wife and daughter, said: "I think the country has come a long way, compared with 50 years ago."

Asked what his SG50 wish was, he said: "Better public transport."

The clear weather held up through the evening, as more than 3,200 diners at a National Day dinner in the open field beside Punggol MRT station stuck SG50 tattoo stickers on their hands, in an attempt to set the local record for "Largest Gathering of People with Tattoo Stickers".

The event, organised by Pasir Ris-Punggol Grassroots Organisations and attended by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, was Punggol's first National Day dinner, said the grassroots adviser, Dr Janil Puthucheary.

The evening closed with song and dance in Jurong Central, as a thousand volunteer performers aged five to 70 hit the streets for a mass parade, which included a musical chronicling the area's history.

The production, attended by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, drew on memories of past Jurong, such as the drive-in cinema. Jurongville Secondary School student Jerrold Chua, 16, who plays a national service commander in the musical, said: "I think this is a great honour... This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to perform... for our residents."

The jubilee eve also saw birthday greetings pour in from around the world. A video released by watchmaker Hublot featured sports stars and celebrities, including sprinter Usain Bolt, Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel and pianist Lang Lang.

The video culminated in Brazilian football legend Pele singing a birthday song. With a laugh, he concluded: "Happy birthday, Singapura."

Additional reporting by Lim Yi Han and Amir Hussain

25,000 enjoy festivities at Botanic Gardens
PM Lee unveils Unesco plaque and names SG50 orchid; 101-year-old among thousands at event
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 8 Aug 2015

He is twice the age of independent Singapore and yesterday, retired photographer Heng Kok Kai, 101, joined thousands at the start of the jubilee weekend to celebrate the country's 50th anniversary and cheer another treasure: the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Mr Heng, who left China to find a better life in Singapore in 1936, enjoys music and being out among the lush greenery of the Gardens.

Said his daughter Betty, 58, who is self-employed: "When we heard that the Botanic Gardens was holding a public concert, we decided to bring him here."

Joining them and others at the Gardens, which attained UNESCO World Heritage Site status on July 4, was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who noted in his off-the-cuff remarks that many of the trees and plants there are more than 50 years old.

"One generation plants the trees, and the later generations enjoy the shade," he said, quoting a Chinese proverb. "Let us continue to improve and enhance the Gardens so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy it."

In the same way, Singaporeans should nurture and build the country for future generations to enjoy, he added.

At the afternoon ceremony, Mr Lee unveiled the Gardens' UNESCO World Heritage Site plaque. The honour is a first for Singapore, and the Gardens is only the third botanic gardens to get on the list. The plaque will be installed at the Tanglin Gate entrance to the Gardens.

"I think it is a well-deserved award, because it has a long and rich history," said Mr Lee, who thanked all the officials and volunteers who worked hard and made the award possible.

He added that the Gardens was a place where many Singaporeans have precious memories. One of his own was of a cultural concert "Aneka Ragam Ra'ayat" - Malay for the people's variety show - in 1959, which he attended as a child with his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Yesterday's large-scale multicultural performance was reminiscent of that 1959 concert, with 13 local artists such as Taufik Batisah and Corrinne May singing in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.

A total of 25,000 people visited the Gardens yesterday, undeterred by the heavy afternoon downpour.

Mr Lee officially named the SG50 orchid the Singapore Golden Jubilee. The pink-and-purple hybrid traces its lineage back to Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid.

The new hybrid inherited the Vanda Miss Joaquim's resilience but has slightly larger blooms, signifying Singapore's growth.

Mr Lee also launched a series of Singapore Post stamps, featuring icons such as the Gardens' gazebo at the Bandstand, to commemorate the Botanic Gardens' UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Residents celebrate across heartland
By Pearl Lee, Cheryl Faith Wee and Linette Lai, The Straits Times, 8 Aug 2015

The heartland was alive with festivities across the island yesterday, at the start of the four-day long jubilee weekend.

Cheerful LED balloons were released at the National Day celebrations at the Taman Jurong Community Club, which also had booths featuring craft activities.

Madam Rose Peh, 59, a part-time sales promoter, was taking part in the celebration for the first time despite having lived in Taman Jurong for three decades. "I came down especially because it is SG50. It is not every year that the atmosphere is this lively," she said.

The activities spilled out onto the road, and a portion of Corporation Drive was closed.

Performances, carnival booths and exhibitions took centre stage as about 5,000 people celebrated the festive occasion together.

At the event, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is an MP for Jurong GRC, highlighted Singapore's transformation through the decades and the qualities which embody the Singapore spirit today - multiracialism as well as constantly striving for excellence and improvement.

At Greenwood Avenue in Bukit Timah, residents and grassroots volunteers decorated a roundabout with mini versions of three iconic Singapore structures - the Merlion, the Marina Bay Sands skyline, and courtesy campaign mascot, Singa the Lion. The structures will light up at night.

Meanwhile, at Bukit Panjang, residents created facade art featuring the sights and buildings of Singapore at Block 617, Senja Road.

At the other end of the island, in Tampines, young residents sampled traditional local snacks such as muah chee and kacang puteh at the SG50 We Love Tampines Carnival. They also learnt to play old- school games such as five stones.

At the event, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, an MP for Tampines GRC, was presented with a special Golden Jubilee plate. Local tableware firms Landex and Luzerne created special plates, which have paintings depicting how life in Singapore has changed in the last 50 years, to be auctioned off at a starting bid of $2,688 each. Proceeds will go to various charities.

Tampines resident Soon Hwee Ling, 41, who was at the carnival, said her children will be busy with dance and wushu performances at nearby community clubs for most of the long weekend.

But she has already planned what to do on National Day, when the whole family is free.

Mrs Soon, a part-time administrative assistant, said they intend to make use of the free public transport. "We'll be taking a few bus rides around on Aug 9, just to look around," she said, adding: "It will be a relaxing thing."

Nation begins partying despite the rain
By Linette Lai, Cheryl Faith Wee, Pearl Lee and Yeo Sam Jo,The Straits Times, 8 Aug 2015

The Jubilee Weekend may have got off to a wet start, but spirits remained high among the thousands who turned up yesterday at parks, museums and the Marina area to mark the nation's 50th birthday.

About 10,000 people packed Marina Barrage and its surrounding area yesterday morning to watch the Black Knights perform. The 25-minute aerial show was cut to 21 minutes due to the rain.

Nevertheless, marketing manager Josephine Sia, 40, who was there with her family, said it was exciting. "Despite the downpour, everyone here is enjoying himself."

Some were also at the barrage for a picnic held by non-profit organisation Families for Life. Picnics were held at three parks in Pasir Ris, Sembawang and West Coast for another 16,000 people.

Picnic baskets could be bought from Families for Life at $10 each, with proceeds going to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

Speaking to reporters at the event, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said the turnout was "fantastic" despite the rain and the heavy traffic.

Earlier, over nine thousand people had turned up at Marina Bay at 8am for the Community Chest Heartstrings Walk. The 4km walk, which involved everyone from children to the elderly and those with disabilities, raised more than $2 million for charities supported by the Community Chest.

At 9am, the first participants to return from the walk were greeted by a surprise visitor - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who mingled with the crowd and took selfies with them.

Meanwhile, at the Woodlands Waterfront Park, a new mobile application featuring trails around Singapore was launched yesterday. Called SG Heart Map Tours, it features seven self-guided trails based on 50 spots identified to be the most significant to Singaporeans.

Many also took the chance to visit museums for free. Queues of a few hundred people were seen at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, which is offering free admission for locals and permanent residents until tomorrow.

At around 1pm yesterday, the wait at the end of the queue was estimated to be around three hours.

Braving the rain in the queue was civil servant Matthias Wong, 41, who was with his children and his friend's family. "We just happened to be in the area and decided to drop by. The wait was okay as we took turns. The usual admission fees are a bit pricey for a trip with the whole family," he said.

The turnout was also higher than usual at eight places run by the National Heritage Board where admission is free until Monday. Visitorship was four times bigger than the regular average daily turnout, with over 22,000 visitors across the eight places, which include museums, as of 6pm yesterday.

Yesterday evening, the National University of Singapore (NUS) held its biggest Rag Day yet at the Marina Bay floating platform. About 1,750 students performed to thank the public for their contribution to charity. Rag Day is part of NUS' Rag and Flag event, which raised $451,120 in all for beneficiaries such as Pathlight School.

Singapore's golden jubilee celebration begins
Singaporeans turn out in force for jubilee events; Sing50 show tops off special holiday
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 8 Aug 2015

Singaporeans were given a special day off yesterday to mark Singapore's 50th year of independence, and they came out by the thousands to do so everywhere - on land, by the beach and in the air.

Singaporeans thronged heartland centres, visited landmarks such as the ArtScience Museum and the Botanic Gardens, enjoyed picnics at Marina Bay and Sentosa island - and even looked eagerly overhead as fighter pilots performed aerobatic stunts up high and over the waterfront.

To top it off, the special public holiday, which made for an extended break, was anchored by a Sing50 concert at the National Stadium, presented by The Straits Times and The Business Times.

More than 41,000 Singaporeans packed the National Stadium for the concert to celebrate 50 years of Singapore music.

For over two hours, young and old were taken on a journey through history with some of the songs that brought a people together - from rock 'n' roll hits of the uncertain 1960s to rap numbers of a more confident 21st century.

There were songs in Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English, performed by stars including Dick Lee, Rahimah Rahim, Jeremy Monteiro, Stefanie Sun and Rani Singam, reflecting the multiracial and shared heritage of a nation on the cusp of its 50th anniversary.

The concert concluded with a heartfelt sing-along by the audience, including President Tony Tan Keng Yam, to the National Day Parade classic Home, and a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, as the first day of the four-day long weekend drew to a close.

Earlier, outdoor celebrations were slightly dampened by a downpour, but crowds still showed up in force at events.

At the Marina Barrage, the Black Knights soared and swooped overhead in their red-and-white Fighting Falcons as a 10,000-strong crowd cheered them from below.

But the Republic of Singapore Air Force aerobatics team had to cut their planned 25-minute performance by four minutes due to cloudy conditions in the morning.

Elsewhere, about 25,000 people visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Those who braved the initial downpour were rewarded with prime seats at its outdoor concert.

There, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled a plaque marking the latest feather in Singapore's cap - the Gardens' new status as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

There was also a new bloom for the country as Mr Lee officially named the SG50 orchid, the Singapore Golden Jubilee - a hybrid coloured in shades of pink and mauve with a bright yellow throat.

Meanwhile, queues formed at several museums and attractions as many flocked to take advantage of waived admission fees for Singaporeans and permanent residents.

The ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands saw people wait for hours in snaking queues, while lines at the Science Centre began at 8am. The National Heritage Board reported that over 22,000 visited its eight museums and heritage institutions. At Sentosa, entry to the Merlion was free yesterday.

Celebrations in the heartland were no less exciting, as some 16,000 residents watched live performances and played carnival games at picnics in Pasir Ris, Sembawang and West Coast.

The less fortunate were not forgotten as more than 9,000 people took part in a 4km Community Chest Heartstrings Walk and raised over $2 million for charity. Mr Lee, who made an appearance at the walk, said later on Facebook: "In this Jubilee year, our progress as an inclusive, caring community deserves special celebration."

Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin and Dick Lee among 70 other artists, delivered hit after hit to a crowd of 45,000 at the National...
Posted by RazorTV on Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sing50 concert a tapestry of Singapore music
Artists from diverse genres join community in showcasing nation's heritage at Sing50
By Eddino Abdul Hadi, Music Correspondent, The Straits Times, 8 Aug 2015

Sing50, probably the biggest concert dedicated to Singapore music, got the Golden Jubilee long weekend off to a rousing start last night at the National Stadium.

A packed crowd of 41,300 watched the rich multilingual and multi-genre diversity of the nation's music heritage, performed by more than 250 artists who sang more than 70 iconic Singapore songs in the four official languages.

Among the performers in the 21/2-hour concert were Mandopop superstars Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin, pioneering acts Vernon Cornelius, Ramli Sarip and Tracy Huang, and Cultural Medallion recipients Jeremy Monteiro and Dick Lee.

At the end, guest of honour President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, as well as Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, joined the performers in a stirring rendition of the Singapore National Anthem, Majulah Singapura.

Leading up to the National Anthem, Lee sang a heartfelt rendition of the perennial National Day favourite, Home, as part of a special multilingual medley in the show's finale.

Singers Rahimah Rahim and Rani Singam joined him, belting out other local favourites such as Kopi O, Semoga Bahagia and Singai Naadu. The performances of Lee, Lin, Sun and Huang received some of the loudest cheers.

While there were complaints about the acoustics - just like there were for Jay Chou's concert at the same venue - it was clear the audience had a great time. Pre-school teacher Hariana Selamat, 43, said: "We loved everything - it painted a picture of Singapore in the past. I liked the Chinese singers like JJ Lin - he was so good on the piano. Music is universal, we can understand it."

Featuring more than just stars and music professionals, the line-up also included performers from the community - a 1,000-strong community choir, 50 pianists, and rappers, all of whom were picked through auditions.

Sharing the stage with them were two international guests - superstar pianist Lang Lang, 33, from China and rapper, 40, from American pop band Black Eyed Peas.

A sight to behold was Lang, the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, and pianists playing on 50 Steinway-designed Lang Lang baby grand pianos. Lang also collaborated with Lin on the Mandopop singer's two big hits, River South and Clash Of Souls, while Sun sang a grand medley of her songs, accompanied by Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.

The concert, organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, and produced by The Rice Company, celebrated songs performed, composed or made popular by Singaporeans in the 50 years of the country's independence.

Cornelius, from 1960s rock 'n' roll icons The Quests, took the audience back to the heady days of the country's independence by belting out Be My Girl, a single that his band released in 1965.

Like many of the segments last night, his performance saw the marriage of old and new generations of musicians - the veteran was backed by contemporary indie rockers The Pinholes.

Earlier, Lee rejuvenated some of his past pop hits, such as Fried Rice Paradise, with the aid of singer Dru Chen and rapper Shigga Shay, both of whom are in their 20s.

The evolution of Malay music in Singapore was represented in a medley titled Yang Gerek, which featured acts such as Ramli, pop yeh-yeh singer Jeffrydin, folk singer Art Fazil, and the third Singapore Idol winner, Sezairi. Pop yeh-yeh is a Malay rock 'n' roll genre popular in the 1960s.

Fronting the Indian music landscape here were prominent artists Mohamed Raffee, M.S. Maniam, Mohan and The Vasantham Boys.

Jazz maestro Monteiro assembled a cast made up of the home-grown jazz scene's finest stalwarts, including singers Jacintha Abisheganaden, Melissa Tham and Singam.

The all-encompassing concert programme also paid tribute to xinyao or Singapore Mandarin folk-pop, performed by a cappella group MICappella, showtunes, led by veteran singer Babes Conde, the live club music scene, indie and alternative rock, and hip-hop .

Ms Connie Ting, 32, a dental clinic director, said: "You could see the passion of everyone on stage. It was fantastic and very, very Singapore."

Sing50 concert a moving tribute to Lee Kuan Yew
There's a kind of hush as concert brings back poignant memories for the audience
By Paige Lim and Lee Jian Xuan, The Straits Times, 8 Aug 2015

For a few minutes, only the sound of a red Steinway concert grand piano could be heard in the massive National Stadium yesterday, as a hush fell over the 41,300-strong audience at the Sing50 concert.

Many looked sombre, and some even teared up a little as an elegy to the country's late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew played, and pictures of him flashed on a screen during a three-movement concerto by composer Kelly Tang.

Teacher Saleha Raj, 48, who was there with her husband, said: "I found the tribute very emotional. I felt strongly because it was like deja vu, going through that whole pe-riod of his death again."

Senior marketing executive Wilson Ng, 27, agreed, saying: "I thought it was meaningful and moving, as it was appropriately accompanied with beautiful movements by the orchestra."

The 20-minute-long concerto was performed by Chinese classical virtuoso Lang Lang, who led 50 pianists ranging in age from seven to 52. They were accompanied by the 92-strong Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.

One audience member, Mr Kunalan, who goes by one name, said the show took him back to the past.

The 46-year-old, who works in real estate, said: "The show brought back many memories. My favourite song was definitely Home - I like it a lot. I also enjoyed the rock segments, especially Douglas Oliveiro, whom I haven't seen for a while."

For Ms Lily Soh, 52, who is between jobs, the highlight was singing along with Taiwan-born songbird Tracy Huang, who sang the English song Feelings and her signature Chinese hit, Crying Sand.

"Her vocals were just crystal clear, and she sounded wonderful," she said.

But housewife Lily Tang, 47, who attended the concert with her husband and three sons, preferred the more contemporary pieces such as JJ Lin and Lang Lang's duet, Clash Of The Souls. She said: "I enjoyed the duet because I haven't seen anything like it before but the sound system was not good as I could not hear the voices at times."

The occasional muffled audio did not mar the experience for sales director Kenny Sim, 45, who attended the concert with his 16-year-old daughter Angie.

"My favourite performance was Stefanie Sun's as her songs are very special to me, especially Cloudy Day, which brought back memories. This concert reminded me of how much talent Singapore has."

As Singapore prepares to celebrate the country's 50th Golden Jubilee on August 9th, we took a look at the #SG50 story on...
Posted by Facebook on Monday, August 3, 2015

Changi Airport joins the rest of Singapore in celebration of our nation’s Golden Jubilee this weekend! Let’s hear what our friends from all over the world have to say about Singapore! #SG50
Posted by Changi Airport on Thursday, August 6, 2015

Edit: I've ran out of "thank you" to say to u guys who shared and liked this photo. My family and friends have urged me...
Posted by Sheng Long Lua on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

You have heard Dick Lee and JJ Lin, now take a listen to SPF Band’s rendition of this year’s National Day theme song, “...
Posted by Singapore Police Force on Saturday, August 8, 2015

What a Jubilee Weekend we had! From our Old Guard leaders marking this historic moment, to our pioneers in uniform...
Posted by Heng Swee Keat on Monday, August 10, 2015

1.7m people join the celebrations
Heartened by the tremendous show of love for country, says Heng Swee Keat
By Feng Zengkun and Toh Yong Chuan, Manpower Correspondent, The Straits Times, 11 Aug 2015

Some 1.7 million people participated in the SG50 celebrations, with thousands going to dozens of events in all parts of the island.

A big part of the enthusiastic support and participation has been because of the extra long holiday that the Government announced to celebrate 50 years of independence, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

"I am very heartened by the tremendous show of love for our country," said Mr Heng, who chairs the SG50 Steering Committee, which oversees the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The long weekend signalled to Singaporeans that this National Day is a special one and allowed the organisers of various SG50 events to spread out the activities over several days, said Mr Heng on the sidelines of a community event in Tampines yesterday.

Besides free travel on public buses and the MRT on Sunday, many of Singapore's biggest attractions were open for free, or had a discounted entry price.

These included the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, the Science Centre, public swimming pools and gyms across the island.

The free attractions attracted huge crowds, with snaking queues of people lining up to get in.

Mr Frank Chew, 34, said that he had waited in line for an hour to visit the ArtScience Museum last Saturday but left after being told he was not even halfway through the queue.

"The savings from the free entry was not worth all the time wasted standing around doing nothing," said Mr Chew, an engineer.

The work of people manning the various stores and organising the many activities was acknowledged by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

What a wonderful Parade to mark our SG50 National Day! The atmosphere at the Padang was electric. I know many were with...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, August 9, 2015

In a post on Facebook, he thanked the organising committee, parade participants, performers and volunteers for putting up "a spectacular show" during the parade.

He said that the atmosphere at the Padang had been electric, adding: "I know many were with us all over Singapore, and the world, when we sang and waved our scarves and flags."

The Prime Minister added that he had attended the first National Day Parade in 1966, a year after Singapore's independence: "My father personally supervised the rehearsals, because he felt it was vital for Singaporeans to feel united and confident as a new nation.

"Last night, we celebrated as one people... Mr Lee would have been proud."

PM Lee also thanked "the many people who had worked hard to make the Jubilee Weekend memorable - organisers, staff, Traffic Police and many others too".

He added: "And thank you to Singaporeans for joining in the celebrations. May we have many more occasions to celebrate our nationhood."

Separately, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told reporters yesterday after house visits in Balestier that Singaporeans had made the parade their own.

He said: "They reminisced over the vintage parade, gushed at the aerial display, sang our songs with gusto and cried at the end of the tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew."

Meanwhile, Singaporeans continued to take advantage of the public holiday yesterday to extend their celebrations.

Long queues formed at the cable car stations on the Mount Faber Line, on the last day of free rides offered to Singaporeans and permanent residents.

By about 1.15pm, the wait for the rides had stretched to 10 hours, a post on the Singapore Cable Car Facebook page said.

How did Singaporeans celebrate the nation's birthday on Aug 9? The Straits Times was out from midnight to capture every hour of this important day in our history. Watch the video here:
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, August 17, 2015

Re-live the highlights of Jubilee Weekend through this video by We're missing the buzz and excitement already :) What was your favourite moment?
Posted by Singapore50 on Monday, August 17, 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Message 2015
Lee Kuan Yew’s reading of Proclamation of Independence
Singapore is IN
2015 National Day Awards
SG50 National Day Parade 2015: Happy 50th Birthday, Singapore
RSAF Black Knights Golden Jubilee Airshow
Lee Wei Ling: Missing Papa on Aug 9
NDP 2015: Tribute to Lee Kuan Yew

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