MWO David Ling, Parade Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) for NDP 2020, has been involved in more than 10 NDPs since his time with the Boys Brigade back in 1990.
"Over the years, I have been part of the marching contingents and trainer for the contingents. In a way, I see this as part of my preparation to take on the role of parade RSM."
But this year's NDP threw MWO Ling a curve ball. "Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are fewer rehearsals. We also have to wear masks during our parade rehearsals. This is challenging for us especially when we have to rehearse and march under the hot sun in our humid weather. It's also harder to shout commands with a mask on."
With COVID-19 in the backdrop, this year's NDP team also faces the challenge of additional planning and coordination to orchestrate the movement of people as well as management of spaces to eliminate the risk of virus spread amongst the working committee and participants.
Hence, MWO Ling feels the need to play a dual role as parade cheerleader. "I also find time to engage the parade participants, encouraging and recognising everyone's effort and keeping their morale high. The most important thing is for everyone to enjoy the moment, make new friends, follow the precautionary COVID-19 measures and execute a precise show for the whole nation."
MWO Ling hopes that the parade serves as a reminder for Singaporeans to come together as a nation to overcome this battle as one united people.
While the journey hasn't been an easy one, MWO Ling's personal cheerleading squad never fails to put a smile on his face when he returns home from rehearsals. "Although I've been involved in NDP for so many years, my boys are still looking forward to NDP 2020, as I will be the Parade RSM. They always cheer me on with jokes about how tanned I have become, and the mask tan-line over my face as a result of wearing the mask for long periods under the sun."