New SAF, Home Team volunteer contingent to march at NDP2019

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15 Jun 2019 | COMMUNITY

New SAF, Home Team volunteer contingent to march at NDP2019

// Report by Teo Jing Ting

// Photos by Chua Soon Lye

English 华文

To mark Singapore's bicentennial, this year's National Day Parade (NDP) Parade and Ceremony (P&C) segment will feature 38 contingents instead of the usual 37, making this the largest number of contingents since 2005.

The additional group is made up of volunteers from the Home Team and Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) – a first in NDP's history.

Themed "Our People", this year's P&C segment is a commemoration of organisations that have been contributing to Singapore in different ways, and a celebration of Singaporeans who are an integral part of the nation. It also involves more than 2,600 participants from all walks of life.

"These participants represent the Singaporean spirit of diversity as well as commitment," said Chairman P&C Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Loh Woon Liang, 40.

"Seeing how the volunteers from the Home Team and SAFVC are willing to sacrifice their time to do a little more for Singapore is like the generations who come before them, who are willing to go the extra mile for the peace and stability of Singapore."

For first-time parade participant SAFVC Volunteer (SV) 2 Neo Li Fang, leading the pioneer Volunteer Contingent is a huge honour. 

The 33-year-old senior clinical psychologist from Alexandra Hospital even watched past NDP videos on YouTube to familiarise herself on how the marching is done. 

Beyond being a leader, what motivated her was learning that her contingent comprised a mix of volunteers from the SAFVC, Singapore Police Force Volunteer Special Constabulary and Singapore Civil Defence Force' Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit.

"(This) brings to mind and highlights the whole meaning of volunteering – that it's not about one Service but our people from all walks of life coming together," said SV2 Neo, who serves as a defence psychologist in the SAFVC.

"We don't do it as a job but we really believe in our role and (have that) passion (to) step up over and above our daily work."

Another first at this year's parade is the Combined Drum Band, which comprises 24 drummers from the SAF Military Band, Singapore National Cadet Corps, and Association for Persons with Special Needs Tanglin School.

Leading the parade this year are Parade Commander Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Alvin Choo, 44, and Parade Regimental Sergeant Major Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Chong Wee Keong, 43.

Expressing his excitement in meeting and working with a wide range of participants, LTC Choo said: "As part of NDP, I'm meeting children as young as 13 years old and seniors as (old) as 71. These are things that give me energy, (that makes me) want (to) share (these moments) and to walk the journey with them for NDP."

MWO Chong, who is also the parade planner, hopes that all the participants will enjoy themselves despite the long hours of training.
"Our aim is to make sure that we are able to present a well-coordinated and precise parade to commemorate our Singapore. I'm very heartened by their hard work, and we're looking forward to presenting a spectacular parade on National Day."

Apart from the military and Home Team contingents, 10 uniformed youth group contingents and 16 social and economic groups will also be marching in the parade. 

One of the participants from the Public Utilities Board (PUB) contingent is Mdm Siti Rahayu Bte Jass, 51.

The management support officer from PUB is proud to have taken part in P&C since 2007, and has been in the marching contingent more than five times.

The reason for her continued participation? She enjoys catching up and sharing experiences with friends from her own and other contingents.

Her enthusiasm has rubbed off on her 19-year-old son, Md Danish Firdaus.

Because of his mother, Firdaus started taking part in NDP in 2014 and has not stopped since. But unlike Mdm Siti, he finds joy performing in the Show segment. This year, he will be performing in Act 3 – Our River, under the People's Association.

"Dancing's my passion and I enjoy making new friends in NDP. I can take the opportunity to share my dance choreography with them," said the first-year Engineering and Rapid Transit student from Institute of Technical Education (West).

Both mother and son hope that more young Singaporeans will share the same passion for participating in NDP. 

Mdm Siti said: "I want the younger generation to carry on doing what I'm doing now for NDP."

"(Even if) I can no longer participate, it will still be meaningful when I see my son and the next generation doing it."

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