The National Day Parade (NDP) is a rallying call for Singaporeans to unite in the face of adversity. For this reason, it is important to adapt and carry on through the COVID-19 pandemic, "despite the difficulties, and indeed because of the more challenging times that are ahead", said Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen.
He was speaking in Parliament on 5 Jun, in response to questions about NDP2020.
The very first NDP, held in 1966, took place in a time of uncertainty and instability, when Singapore was battling a host of issues as an infant nation. The sight of soldiers, police, students and other uniformed groups marching in contingent; the illuminated display and the fireworks helped to unite and inspire confidence in Singaporeans.
"It showed to the rest of the world that despite great difficulties, ours was a country that would not be beaten down - ours was a people that will rise up and overcome," said Dr Ng.
"Even through those difficult years (such as global recessions, SARS in 2003 and the H1N1 epidemic in 2009), Singaporeans chose to celebrate National Day Parade as we have always done and rallied together. Because of that hope and optimism, Singapore emerged stronger," he added.
Careful, prudent spending
On concerns from the public that resources for the celebrations should be channeled elsewhere, especially to support the economy and jobs impacted by the pandemic, Dr Ng gave the assurance that the format of NDP2020 will reduce its budget by at least a third from previous years. The savings come from not having to spend on infrastructure at locations like the Padang or The Float @ Marina Bay.
To allow Singaporeans to join in the virtual NDP celebrations at the Padang in the morning and Show in The Star Performing Arts Centre in the evening, the NDP EXCO (Executive Committee) will produce a "Singapore Together Pack", containing items that can be used during the broadcast of these events.
Taking feedback from the public, the NDP EXCO has decided to produce packs for 80 per cent of Singaporean and PR households, which can be collected at all Community Clubs and Residents' Committee centres from 20 Jul. Collection is expected to be completed by 2 Aug.
Collection points will also be set up where the public can return selected items (such as the national flag if already received) for re-distribution or re-use.
The packs will also be distributed to vulnerable groups by volunteers to help all Singaporeans join in the NDP experience.
The Singapore Together Pack will come in a foldable bag that can be used as a grocery bag. This is to encourage Singaporeans to be less reliant on single-use bags.
It will contain 12 items, compared to about 25 items in typical NDP Funpacks.
Recipients will find favourites like a state flag they can display to show their solidarity, a handheld flag, face tattoo, and snacks. An e-discount booklet for use online will replace the usual printed booklet.
There are also new items to help Singaporeans join in the Parade and Show from home. These include a red filter they can attach to their phone torches for the "light up moment", a Singapore Together commemorative magnet, and an iron-on flag they can decorate their face masks or other items with.
There is also a "Our Heart for Singapore" card which encourages Singaporeans to pledge their time and action towards worthy causes and express their appreciation to frontline fighters.
Visions of Singapore
The bags come in 20 different designs, each created by a Primary 5 student or an artist from Social Service Agencies (SSAs) which support persons with disabilities.
Ten of the designs by the artists were based on artworks they had made for NDP collaterals in partnership with SG Enable, expressing their love and dreams for the nation. Additional designs can also be found on the "Our Heart for Singapore" card in each pack.
The 10 designs by the Primary 5 students were shortlisted following an artwork competition that took place during the Circuit Breaker period. This was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. A total of 1,200 entries were received from students across the country sharing their hopes for a stronger and more united Singapore.
Haig Girls' School student Anisah Faisal is one of the young designers whose artwork was shortlisted as one of the 20 designs. The 11-year-old drew a picture of five clenched fists reaching up towards a Singapore flag, surrounding the words "Stronger Together".
"I wanted to share that all Singaporeans are strong and determined to fight the virus. Each fist represents kindness, courage, confidence, selflessness and optimism. I hope that we can emerge stronger together."