National Day parade will be held 'as long as there is a Singapore', says NDP ExCo chair

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Spectators watching the 2019 National Day Parade in Singapore. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — This year’s National Day Parade (NDP) will be an “unyielding reminder” that Singapore will keep going even amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said the chairman of the NDP 2020 executive committee on Wednesday (20 May).

“We believe that as long as there's a Singapore, there will be an NDP, and NDP is our way of saying in a firm manner that Singapore will keep going on. COVID-19 will not deter us,” said Brigadier-General Frederick Choo at a virtual media briefing which announced a much leaner, scaled down parade this year.

“And that's why, in the concept, you will see elements where we are not relying on mass performances. We are reducing the number of people, we are not requiring Singaporeans to congregate at a certain location, and therefore this is how we will continue to bring NDP to Singaporeans across various COVID-19 situations.”

BG Choo was responding to a question on whether NDP organisers would ever consider scrapping the event, for example, if there was widespread community transmission in the country.

A very different NDP

INFOGRAPHIC: NDP 2020 ExCo

“NDP will look, sound and feel very different from what we are used to,” said BG Choo as he unveiled the theme for this year’s parade: Together, A Stronger Singapore.

It will begin with the Prime Minister’s National Day Message, followed by a parade at the Padang reviewed by the President. Compared to the 1,800 participants in the parade in 2019, it will only have about 200 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces. There will be no large scale mobilisation of volunteers from grassroots organisations, such as the People’s Association and the Singapore Soka Association.

For the first time, the parade, divided into morning and evening segments, will not have mass performances. Instead, there will be an “intimate and meaningful” evening show, with 80 to 100 participants, to be broadcast from the Star Performing Arts Centre with no spectators.

The show will pay tribute to frontline fighters and community heroes who have made a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will culminate in a nationwide anthem and pledge moment, with fireworks being set off from more than 10 different locations across Singapore.

Old favourites like the mobile column and the state flag flown across Singapore are all present and accounted for. The Red Lions will also make special appearances at selected heartlands locations, while vessels from the Navy and various public agencies will participate in a maritime sail-past.

However, enforcement officers from various agencies and SAF personnel will be on the ground to discourage crowds from congregating, as part of safe distancing measures. The performers themselves will also be subject to precautions such as being separated into different holding areas and wearing face masks.

There will also be no National Education shows or preview performances. Rehearsals, which traditionally begin in January, will only start once the partial lockdown of the country is lifted on 2 June.

Asked if this year’s leaner parade will mean a reduction in the cost of the event, BG Choo declined to provide specific details.

Getting Singaporeans involved

The executive committee had started planning for the 2020 edition since July last year, with the parade originally being held at The Float @Marina Bay. However, BG Choo acknowledged that it had been forced to being curtailing its plans in January, when the first coronavirus infection cases emerged in Singapore.

“With the turn of the year, with the situation developing, we were very mindful and we were determined to develop a concept that will bring NDP to Singaporeans on the 9th of August, come what may,” he added.

“For the first time since independence, instead of bringing Singaporeans to a location, we will be bringing NDP into every Singaporean household.”

INFOGRAPHIC: NDP 2020 ExCo

In this regard, the NDP2020 Funpack – designed by aspiring artists with disabilities and Primary 5 pupils - will be distributed to more than a million Singaporean and permanent resident households. Singaporeans will also be invited to submit entries to form a virtual choir that will be featured in the evening show.

Social media campaigns will encourage citizens to share pictures and videos of them and their families participating in the celebrations throughout the day.

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

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