Sunday, 22 August 2021

NDP 2021: Singapore’s National Day Parade to mark 56 years of independence

Heartfelt ode to the Singapore spirit
Scaled-down NDP a celebration of people's resilience amid the pandemic
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 22 Aug 2021

Singapore held a scaled-down National Day Parade (NDP) yesterday, in a show that celebrated people's resilience in overcoming the challenges the pandemic threw at them.

About 600 people took to the Marina Bay floating platform yesterday evening, as an animated film drew parallels of how Singaporeans of different generations had overcome adversity over the years.

Initially meant to be held on National Day, the NDP was postponed as Singapore tightened Covid-19 restrictions for a month in July. Most measures have been relaxed, with people returning to their offices last week and eateries welcoming diners again, as the nation moves towards living with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

Despite having just a handful of combined rehearsals, and only a third of the usual number of performers at the platform, the show helmed by creative director and film-maker Boo Junfeng went off without a hitch.

Earlier, men and women in uniform marched in with their trademark precision in the parade segment, which was reviewed by President Halimah Yacob. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other Cabinet ministers and MPs were among the 1,000 invited guests in attendance, along with "everyday heroes" who were invited as they had served on the front lines or as community volunteers.

Among them were healthcare workers, teachers, cleaners and social workers. Shortly after 7pm, the parade gave a salute to these heroes for keeping Singapore going during the pandemic.

Primary school teacher Noorshirin Musa, who is in her late 40s and was among those invited to attend the parade yesterday, said the pandemic has resulted in challenges for parents and students, as well as teachers. "It was a very tough time for all of us. But I'm glad that we have come back to a more normal life," she said.

This was the 10th NDP held at the platform since it was built in 2007. Strict Covid-19 precautions were taken to ensure the parade was possible. For instance, all participants had to be fully vaccinated and were required to undergo antigen rapid tests before each combined rehearsal.

The NDP took place after the authorities announced on Thursday that Singapore will move ahead with further easing of community measures, such as increasing the maximum size of events with live performances to 1,000 attendees, if they are all vaccinated.

The feature film in the four-act show told fictional and real-life stories of Singaporeans who persevered despite hardship, including the late medical social worker Daisy Vaithilingam, who established Singapore's first fostering scheme for children.

Performers from institutions such as the National University of Singapore and the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore joined the show virtually.

Team Singapore athletes, some of whom competed in the recent Tokyo Olympics, appeared near the finale. They included swimmer Joseph Schooling and fencer Kiria Tikanah.

The show culminated with singers Linying, Sezairi Sezali, Shabir Tabare Alam and Shye-Anne Brown singing this year's theme song, The Road Ahead.

The audience joined in the chorus "we did it before, and we'll do it again", rounding off a night that encapsulated what it meant to adapt and thrive against the odds.

NDP 2021 Ceremonial Parade

NDP 2021 theme song: The Road Ahead

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