Friday, 19 May 2017

National Day Parade 2017 returns to Marina Bay Floating Platform

NDP 2017 theme's hashtag marks a first
Bid to rally Singaporeans via social media; parade to have 2-segment Dynamic Defence Display
By Tan Tam Mei, The Straits Times, 18 May 2017

National Day Parade 2017 will set the stage for a series of firsts, as well as the welcome return of crowd favourites.

For the first time, this year's theme - #OneNationTogether - will incorporate a hashtag to enable Singaporeans to share the rallying call via social media.

The theme was announced by Colonel Melvin Ong Yoke Lam, 47, who chairs the NDP 2017 executive committee, at a media conference yesterday. He said the theme is a call to action to take pride in Singapore's achievements and to be confident in its collective future as its people overcome odds together.

In another first, the Dynamic Defence Display will be organised in two segments.

The first will focus on the Singapore Armed Forces' defence capabilities through action-packed drills, while the second will focus on collective efforts by citizens and defence forces to tackle the rising threat of cyber attacks and terrorism. The Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles and Leopard tanks will also be part of the show.

Col Ong said: "This year's NDP celebrates our precious social unity and the racial and religious harmony we enjoy today.

"It is in this unity that we will continue to rally together as one people and one nation, against all future challenges, striving ahead towards a brave and confident future."

The theme's hashtag also resembles the NDP 2017 logo, with its four interlocking arms, that was unveiled at yesterday's conference.

Inspired by Singapore's first $10 Orchid-series note launched in 1967, the logo is in red and white and embodies Singaporeans coming together to build a better future.

The shape of the island nestled in the centre of the four hands represents the special place the nation holds in Singaporeans' hearts.

The 52nd birthday bash will see celebrations return to the Marina Bay Floating Platform after a two-year hiatus, which also means crowd favourites like the Red Lions skydivers will make a comeback.

Touted as the largest of its kind in the world, the platform was built in 2007 and can seat up to 27,000 in its grandstand, but was deemed to have staged its last NDP in 2014.

Close to 14,000 participants, volunteers and personnel will be taking part in the parade organised by Headquarters Singapore Combat Engineers and agencies from public and private sectors. Highlights include the presidential gun salute on the M3G Raft and the state flag fly-past, as well as a special tribute to 50 years of national service.

A unique use of technology will allow those at home and abroad to enjoy a live 360-degree streaming of the parade on YouTube.

The NDP show will also feature six captivating and rousing acts that celebrate Singaporean achievements and highlight how, as a nation, citizens have overcome the odds together.

Parade song for and about Singaporeans
By Tan Tam Mei, The Straits Times, 18 May 2017

It has always been Jay Lim's childhood dream to write or compose a National Day song.

The musician will get to do just that this year.

The National Day Parade 2017 theme song, Because It's Singapore!, was jointly produced by Lim and veteran composer Lee Wei Song, 51.

Speaking at a media conference yesterday where the NDP 2017 theme, logo and song were announced, Lim said: "It's a great honour to write a song for NDP; it's every Singapore musician's dream."

He said the song was inspired by the everyday lives of Singaporeans living together in harmony. It is the first time he and Lee are involved in the NDP, and they hope to touch the hearts of fellow citizens with their composition.

Yesterday, Lim performed the song publicly for the first time.

He said that one of his fondest NDP memories was listening to his favourite song, Count On Me Singapore. "Whenever the song was on television, I always felt inspired to one day write my own NDP song or be the voice that sings to the people of Singapore," he added.

Lim will not be singing live at the parade on Aug 9. Instead, a music video and an audio recording of him singing the song will be played during the event and everyone will be encouraged to sing along.

NDP song 'simple enough so everyone can sing it'

When asked about his inspiration for the lyrics, Lim said he wanted to write about growing up and living in Singapore.

He took about a week to come up with the lyrics after Lee had composed the melody.

The song celebrates diversity, and shared customs and cultures. It is also about the need for Singaporeans to collectively decide their future and overcome challenges to fulfil their dreams.

He said the line in the song that touches him the most is: "Nothing in this world compares to our Singaporean Life."

"I hope that when people listen to the song, they will realise that this might not be a perfect country but we are really thankful for it," he said.

"There are a lot of things that make up Singapore, but what makes it unique for me is the life that we have here as a whole. That is the thing you can't compare with other places."

One of the considerations that he and Lee had when creating the song was to make it simple enough so that everyone can sing it, said Lim.

"The melody was composed to be simple, but I had so many feelings and things I wanted to say which I had to put into just a few words. So that was a challenge," he added.

Additional NDP preview show at Marina Bay
By Yuen Sin, The Straits Times, 19 May 2017

Those who are keen to watch the National Day Parade (NDP) as Singapore marks its 52nd birthday at The Float @ Marina Bay this year may stand a bigger chance of securing preview tickets.

For the first time, there will be an additional preview of the show at the venue, which is popular with many for its unobstructed bay view.

From next Tuesday to June 4, Singaporeans and permanent residents can apply for tickets to two preview shows and the actual NDP, the organising committee said in a press statement yesterday.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday in a Facebook post that the floating platform location is "a favourite site for many".

"The location allows perennial favourites like the Red Lions and components of all land, air and sea platforms in the show," he wrote.

Because it has a smaller seating capacity than the National Stadium, where the NDP was held last year, the organising committee has decided to add one more preview show, explained Dr Ng.

In total, about 150,000 people will be able to watch the NDP "live" this year: Students attending three National Education (NE) shows, and members of the public at the two previews on July 22 and July 29 and the official parade on Aug 9, National Day.

There were also two previews last year when the NDP was staged at the National Stadium after a 10-year hiatus during which the stadium was closed for refurbishment.

The organisers had converted an NE show into a second preview, with the 55,000-seater stadium allowing about 275,000 people to watch the parade, previews and rehearsals.

In comparison, the seating capacity at the floating platform, where the NDP has been held seven times since 2007, is about half of the stadium's, at about 25,000.

Businessman Shakti Desai, 34, watched the parade at the National Stadium last year and hopes he will have a chance to catch it with his extended family at the floating platform this year.

"It will be more open and less humid. I am hoping to see the action in the skies, and more displays of military might and power."

Applicants can choose to apply for two, four or six tickets. However, those asking for fewer tickets have a higher chance of obtaining them.

Those eligible can submit their applications via SMS, through the official NDP website,, or at SAM and AXS stations across the island.

Each NRIC holder is limited to one application. Tickets will be allocated by an electronic ballot system, and each ticket admits one person to the parade. Children and infants must also have a ticket.

Successful applicants will be notified from June 26 to July 3 via the contact number they provide.

Tickets can be collected from July 7 to 9 and from July 14 to 16, between 10am and 9pm, at the Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium Foyer on Basement 1 of the National Gallery Singapore.

Tickets are strictly not for sale.

NDP defence display to be up close - and loud

Spectators will find themselves in midst of simulated attack and blanks will be fired
By Lester Hio, The Straits Times, 14 Jun 2017

Spectators at this year's National Day Parade (NDP) will get a closer look at the nation's security forces as parts of the Dynamic Defence Display (D3) will include performers simulating a counter-terrorist routine in the midst of the crowd.

They will also get double the action as the defence display will be divided into two segments for the first time. The parade and ceremony will be sandwiched between the two parts.

The NDP, which celebrates Singapore's 52nd year of independence, will be held at the Marina Bay Floating Platform. Not only will the event see the return of the D3 after a two-year absence, but it will also include high-intensity pyrotechnics, a new cyber-security performance and a counter-terrorism display.

About 500 participants and more than 50 assets - the biggest number to date - from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) will take part. They include seven types of vehicles making their parade debut, such as the SAF's Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle, the SPF's Tactical Response Motorcycle and the SCDF's Fire-Medical Vehicle.

The first segment focuses on the role of the SAF as the guarantor of Singapore's independence, and features the high-tech assets from the army, air force and navy.

The second segment features Singapore's whole-of-government and community response to a terrorism threat. It will show how cyber-security agencies deal with cyber attacks, followed by how the SAF and Home Team respond to terrorist threats here.

And for the first time, performers will fire blanks in the seating gallery, adding to the show's realism.

"We will be flashing warning messages to let the audience know to expect very loud noises and pyrotechnics as part of the display," said Colonel Tan Tiong Keat, chairman of the D3 committee.

Spectators can also expect traditional elements such as the 21-gun salute on an M3G military raft and the state flag flypast flown by a Chinook helicopter with two Apache escorts. There will be about 2,000 participants from 31 marching contingents, including those from SAF and Home Team, as well as youth groups and the public sector.

For the first time, the signature bomb burst will be performed by five F-15SG fighter planes. Two of the pilots are NSmen, while the others are regulars with the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

The parade will also feature its largest military tattoo performance, with 170 performers. Bagpipers from the SPF Women Police Pipes and Drums will join the tattoo for the first time.

A key theme of this year's NDP is the tribute to 50 years of national service. An NS50 tribute video will be screened and the marching contingent will also do a salute.

Colonel Koh Eee Wen, chairman of the parade and ceremony committee, said: "Besides recognising NSmen, we are also recognising their families. We know that when NSmen have to report to camp for duty, it's really the family helming the home front."

In a nod to the contributions of NSmen, the parade will be led by Lieutenant-Colonel (NS) Lim Wee Tee, 45, who is a director of sales.

Who pays for NDP props and costumes?
Items are rented and returned to supplier post-event for recycling
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 5 Aug 2017

A reader wrote in to askST: "Who funds the costumes and props used in National Day parades? And what happens to them after the main parade is over? Are they discarded, and how?"

Reporter Audrey Tan checked with the National Day Parade organisers for the answer.

The funds used for costumes and props in the National Day Parade (NDP) are factored into the parade budget, said a spokesman for the NDP 2017 Executive Committee.

"The costumes and props are both rented and, after the NDP, they will be taken back by the suppliers for the materials to be recycled," he said.

The budget for this year's parade, held at the Marina Bay Floating Platform, is similar to those for previous parades held at the venue. They range between $15.7 million and $17.9 million.

The audience at the nation's largest party on Aug 9 can expect to see performers wearing unique, "forward-looking" outfits. This is because costume designers Max Tan and Yuan Zhiying skipped the usual ethnic garb and opted for a contemporary look instead.

For instance, local rapper Tosh Zhang, who will be performing with parkour enthusiasts during the parade, will be decked out in outfits with fluorescent elements. But upon a closer look, the audience will find that the performers are clothed in "deconstructed corporate wear", such as blazers.

Besides that, spectators will also get to see a giant mosquito puppet and a curry-puff float.

NDP 2017 funpacks lighter but pack a punch

Compact bags weigh just 1.5kg but have all the usual goodies
By Toh Wen Li, The Straits Times, 18 Jul 2017

Less is more for this year's National Day Parade (NDP) funpack, one of the lightest in parade history.

Even though it weighs a compact 1.5kg - instead of around 2kg, like those in past years - it packs a punch, carrying all the goodies paradegoers will need for an unforgettable experience.

There are the interactive items, such as a mini Singapore flag, which will do double duty as a flashing LED light, and a handy paper banner that serves as a fan as well as a clapper.

Each bag also features a commemorative NS50 keychain to mark 50 years of national service, a luggage tag, visor, poncho, bottles of water, tissues and snacks. There is also a detachable pouch that can be swopped with another spectator's for a different colour.

And, of course, there are the perennial crowd favourites such as discount coupons and temporary tattoos.

The organisers said the bags were made lighter to make it easier for smartphone-toting paradegoers to snap photos during the parade, without having to juggle too many items.

Said NDP logistics and finance committee deputy chairman Ang Kian Hoe, 37: "We realised that in previous years, there were a lot of interactive items.

"Now, for example, spectators can carry an LED flag in one hand and a camera phone in the other. This will make for a more convenient and immersive NDP experience."

The water-resistant funpacks, which come in red and white, are made from polyester satin.

Their final funpack designs were whittled down from a total of 60 submitted by Lasalle College of the Arts students.

A total of 150,000 bags, to be collected at distribution points, are being packed from mid-June to August for six shows.

Lasalle College of the Arts graduate Riche Tay, 22, who spent about a month creating the winning bag design, said: "We wanted to make the bags trendy... and more compact and user-friendly."

Noting that a compact funpack makes sense at NDP venues that can get crowded, Mr Tay said the bags were designed with a roll-up top so that paradegoers can adjust the carrying capacity.

Said his co-designer, coursemate Denise Richter, 23: "We wanted to create a bag that people would still use... after National Day."

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