How Singapore celebrates its National Day
MANILA, Philippines – The island-country of Singapore turns a year older on August 9, the day it celebrates its National Day.
It was on this day in 1965 when Singapore unwillingly separated from Malaysia and became an independent republic. The city-state had a history of being under both Japanese and British colonial rule.
From its very humble beginnings, Singapore has progressed into a country that has an economy that serves as model for many developing countries. (READ: FAST FACTS: Singapore world records)
How does Singapore celebrates its founding anniversary? Here’s a preview.
National Day Parade
On top of Singapore’s celebration is the annual National Day Parade (NDP), a tradition which began in 1966 wherein the country showcases its military and civil power.
The Singapore website describes the parade as “a stunning spectacle of military parades, multi-cultural song-and-dance performances and aerial high jink."
The NDP is originally set in the Padang where Singapore’s declaration of independence was held. It has since changed locations such as the National Stadium and the Marina Bay.
For the nation’s 50th birthday in 2015, the parade will be held again at the Padang, and will feature more than 2,000 people in 37 contingents.
In its press release, the NDP committee said 50 aircrafts will participate in an execution of unprecedented aerial maneuvers put up by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). The RSAF Black Knights will execute a “5 stars” aerial flypast as tribute to its former leader Lee Kuan Yew, an aerial bomb-burst and a “50” formation flypast using the military’s fighter jets, helicopters and transport aircraft, in addition to the traditional state flag flypast.
Lee, the very first prime minister of Singapore, died in March – just months before the country’s golden founding anniversary celebration.
In 2014, third warrant officer Shirley Ng made history as the first female Armed Forces parachutist, also called Red Lion, to jump for the occasion.
Tickets for the parade are not for sale. According to the Singapore website, “every citizen or permanent resident can ballot for up to 6 seats in May every year. Results are announced in June.”
After facing overcrowding problems in 2003, citizens were asked to register their email addresses or mobile numbers for an electronic voting ticketing system for a chance to win NDP tickets.
The parade is “capped by a breathtaking firework extravaganza set against the stunning cityscape framed by the Marina Waterfront.”
The 50th anniversary celebration is said to have the “largest ever” fireworks display: a 300-meter fireworks rainbow for 5 minutes non-stop over the Marina Bay, and the SG50 logo that will be scattered throughout the program.
In a report, military expert Manimaran Ganesan explained, "This year is special as we are celebrating our Golden Jubilee, therefore the fireworks committee has planned well ahead to have the largest ever fireworks display."
Fireworks festivals used to be part of Singapore’s anniversary celebrations. From 2004 to 2008, various countries participated in the festival and showcased their respective fireworks displays days before and after the main anniversary celebration.
Also, for the special golden anniversary, Singapore allocated funds for projects pitched by citizens.
Among them was the "Wheels@Ubin2015," which gathered more than 600 people at Changi Sailing Club with the aim of improving accessibility for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
On July 10, more than 500 volunteers accompanied the 100 PWDs in a half-day tour around Palau Ubin, which was filled with art workshops and performances.
The “red dot” is reference to how the country is marked on many world maps. An Indonesian president was first regarded to have criticized Singapore in a Wall Street Journal article after he used the term to describe the country. Another gimmick for the 50th anniversary is the use of a little red dot as a logo which, according to the SG50 website, means “that our dreams are not limited by the physical size of our island nation.” Singapore has a land area of 704 square kilometers.
For $10, motorists can also buy "red dots" which are actually red foam balls, and put them on their vehicles. This aims to raise up to $250,000, which will go to 4 beneficiaries: the Lions Befrienders Service Association, the Handicaps Welfare Association, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, and the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped. – research by Arianne Christian Tapao/Rappler.com
Arianne Christian Tapao is a Rappler intern