Friday, 22 May 2020

NDP 2020: Together, A Stronger Singapore

National Day Parade 2020: Focus on celebrating at home, many segments moved to the heartland and smaller-scale evening show
It will have no central location, fewer participants and be split into two shows
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 21 May 2020

In a nod to these sombre times, this year's National Day Parade (NDP) will do away with large crowds and a central location - for the first time - and drastically reduce participant numbers to stick with COVID-19 guidelines.

But NDP 2020 plans to involve more Singaporeans than ever before by shifting many parade segments into the heartland and handing out about 1.2 million funpacks to all local households.

Brigadier-General Frederick Choo, chairman of this year's NDP executive committee, said during a virtual media briefing yesterday: "This year's NDP will be the first of its kind, in a format that Singaporeans have never seen before. For the first time, we will be bringing NDP across the island into every Singaporean home. NDP will look, sound and feel very different from what we are used to."

For the first time, for example, the parade is being split into morning and evening shows and held across multiple locations instead of a central one such as the floating platform in Marina Bay.

Singapore's 55th birthday bash on Aug 9 will be streamed live over television and Internet platforms.

The morning show will start with a nationwide broadcast of the Prime Minister's National Day Message and a "dignified and compact parade" at the Padang, reviewed by the President.

Around 200 participants will be involved in the parade - compared with about 1,800 people last year.

To bring the NDP "into every Singaporean home", the state flag and F-15SG fighter jets will be flown around the island.

The Red Lions free-fall jump will also take place in different locations, paying tribute to front-line workers against COVID-19. Meanwhile, the mobile column will travel through neighbourhoods.

The morning proceedings will be accompanied by flag-raising ceremonies across Singapore during the singing of the National Anthem.

An evening show at The Star Performing Arts Centre in Buona Vista will feature films and performances by Singaporeans, culminating in a fireworks display at over 10 sites across the country. Only 80 to 100 performers will take part - down from 2,600 last year - with safe distancing measures in place.

In between the morning and evening segments, Singaporeans will be able to participate in various virtual and home activities, such as an NDP-themed workout and a family cooking activity.

"Like the past 54 NDPs, NDP 2020 will be an unyielding reminder that Singapore will keep going on. COVID-19 will not deter us, we will continue to celebrate, but differently," said BG Choo, who is commander of the Singapore Army's 3rd Singapore Division.

He added that the health and welfare of participants are of the utmost importance.

No rehearsals have been held so far, though they typically start in March. Rehearsals will begin only after the circuit breaker period ends on June 1.

There will also not be any national education or preview shows this year, BG Choo said.

At the moment, there are no plans to allow spectators to attend either the parade or the evening show. The committee also aims to ensure crowds do not form to watch highlights such as the mobile column.

Unlike previous years, there will not be large numbers of people from the Singapore Soka Association, People's Association or Ministry of Education taking part.

Performers will largely be from the Home Team, Singapore Armed Forces, and Music and Drama Company, and include some local artists.

Asked if there could be a scenario in which this year's NDP would be scrapped, BG Choo said that since the committee started work in July last year, and with the situation developing, its members were determined to have an NDP on Aug 9 "come what may".

"We believe that as long as there is a Singapore, there will be an NDP," he said.

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