He’s been a part of the National Day Parade (NDP) organising committee for 20 years. Mr Ron Wu, the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the NDP 2020 Executive Committee (EXCO), shares his thoughts on what makes this year’s parade especially memorable.
NDP 2020 has truly been like no other.
It was initially meant to be a big celebration at The Float, with crowd favourites displayed in a spectacular fashion. But when COVID-19 threw us a curveball, we had to quickly relook our plans.
The following months were wrought with uncertainty – we didn’t have anything to reference when faced with such a global pandemic. Past NDPs have followed a pretty standard template – even in 2003 and 2009 when NDP was held at a time of SARS and H1N1, the parade went on in a largely similar format.
This year, COVID-19 forced us to change our entire game plan. Even as we considered public health concerns and kept festivities to a minimum, we had to think: What sort of parade would NDP 2020 be without the annual parade & ceremony, performances, and songs?
It was thus important for the EXCO to ask ourselves what makes the annual celebrations on 9 Aug truly "NDP". Was it the Red Lions? Or, perhaps, the iconic State Flag Flypast – when the nation looks on proudly and sings our anthem as one? Some may even say that NDP is all about the goodie bags.
In my humble opinion, cliche as it may sound, it is the spirit of our people that breathes life into the idea of a National Day Parade.
As the organisers, we had to make changes to our plans on a daily basis. Despite the challenges, the team came together as one. We decided to have a morning parade and an evening show, and we had decentralised celebrations for the first time since 1983.
It was touching to witness the extent of everyone’s commitment. Some would even work through the night, or at short notice, to handle various presentations. We would huddle through Web conferences to brainstorm plans and to check in on each other.
While we missed out on the sense of physical bonding common to all NDP teams, the work-from-home circumstances merely strengthened our resolve to work more closely together.
In spite of the numerous revisions, everything went smoothly on National Day.
To see everything come together on the actual day is always the most defining and emotional moment for me. After all, it is the day when you see your brainchild come to life.
We saw Singaporeans from all walks of life, dressed in red and white, come out to commemorate NDP beside their homes, right in the heartlands – cheering on the Red Lions, State Flag Flypast, Roar of Unity F-15SG flypast, the Mobile Column and Maritime Sailpast.
That was the moment I truly felt what we planned had successfully involved the entire nation.
Having been a part of the NDP EXCO for 20 years, I can say that every year is special, and that I have no favourites. Every year, a new team does their best to bring the Singapore Story to Singaporeans, hopefully inspiring them to look forward to our nation's future.
The team for NDP 2020 was likewise unrelenting, growing stronger together in the face of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard, but we told ourselves never to give up – NDP 2020 had to go on no matter what. We came together with the mindset that we would overcome the challenges to put up a good show for Singapore.
This was exactly what we had set out to achieve when COVID-19 hit us – to organise a NDP that would rally and unite Singaporeans. I am very proud that we have achieved that.
This year will be one to remember – chock-full of meaning, heart and compassion. NDP 2020 will always be close to the hearts of Singaporeans. We will stay united, and emerge stronger together. Majulah Singapura!