Celebrating Singapore's 58th birthday at the PadangNDP 2023 featured firsts like the Total Defence Parade and enhanced aerial display, as well as the inaugural appearance of the Digital and Intelligence Service.
Report by Thrina Tham / Photos by PIONEER photographers
The Padang was a sea of red and white on 9 Aug as Singapore saw its first full-scale National Day Parade (NDP) there since 2019.
A total of 27,000 spectators attended the celebrations, with many arriving early and in high spirits despite the hot weather.
Themed Onward As One, NDP 2023 featured firsts like the Total Defence Parade and an enhanced aerial display for the Republic of Singapore Air Force's 55th anniversary (RSAF55).
It also marked Madam Halimah Yacob's last parade as President.
The parade always invokes feelings of nostalgia, said Madam Halimah to the media. "NDP always touches something inside of us… There is a sense of purpose, unitedness as we celebrate our achievements."
Relive the highlights of NDP:
The fearless Red Lions kickstarted the celebrations at the Padang as they jumped from a height of 10,000 feet out of a C-130 aircraft.
The parachutists began their training in March in preparation for their NDP display jump.
The Parade & Ceremony segment marching onto the Padang show centre. This year's parade involved more than 1,700 participants in 34 marching contingents – of which 24 are from youth, social and economic groups.
The arrival of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Halimah Yacob was followed shortly by the state flag flypast.
An iconic part of NDP, the flypast saw the state flag carried by the RSAF's CH-47SD Chinook helicopter and escorted by two AH-64D Apache helicopters.
The Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS) made its inaugural NDP appearance, forming one of five guard of honour contingents.
Madam Halimah also made a final appearance as the NDP Reviewing Officer, as she finishes her six-year term this September.
This year's NDP also saw a thrilling aerial display as part of the RSAF55 celebrations.
For one, the Salute to the Nation saw five F-16 fighter jets executing a bomb-burst manoeuvre, followed by an additional three F-15SG fighters performing a fly-through.
The A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) also flew across the Padang in a fixed wing formation for the first time – with two F-16D+ fighter aircraft at each of its wing.
A new addition to this year's NDP was the Total Defence Parade, which included six large floats – each representing one of the six pillars of Total Defence – and the unfurling of a Total Defence flag.
As night fell, the colourful NDP Show segment took centre stage.
Creative Director Royston Tan – who was directing NDP for the second time – said he hoped that the Show would inspire feelings of hope and optimism in Singaporeans.
The first act of the Show, titled Our Singapore, featured a high-energy sing-and-dance to popular ethnic songs by performers from the People's Association.
This was followed by the second act, Our Strength, where performers from the SOKA Gakkai Singapore Women's Division and Dance Inspiration form a blossoming flower with their mass display dance.
Audiences also got a whiff of the Tembusu scent during the act – the first time that smell is being used in an NDP performance.
The final two acts of the Show raised the energy levels and ended with a sing-and-dance to this year's theme song, Shine Your Light.
A total of 2,400 performers were involved in this year's NDP Show.
Those celebrating NDP at home also got a glimpse of what it was like at the Padang through island-wide flypasts.
The state flag was flown across the eastern and western parts of Singapore, while an RSAF55 Island Flypast featuring the MRTT and a formation of fighter jets also made its way across the island.
There were also firework displays at five sites across the island, in unison with the display at Marina Bay.