Keep NDP simpler, safer, with savings, say S'poreans

It is moving how pragmatically patriotic Singaporeans can be during the Covid-19 pandemic, calling for charity and simplicity instead of a big National Day Parade (NDP).

Forget the funpacks and fireworks, chorused Straits Times Facebook readers. Let us just make our own flags, recite the pledge and sing from windows.

“Save money lah,” said Straits Times Facebook user Ivy Lee. “Do a simple celebration, the rest of the budget – put back in our reserves, since we took out so much to fund the Covid-19 situation.

“Don’t even think need any NDP goodie bag. Save money and manpower, and do more productive things better.”

SMALLER SCALE

This year’s NDP will focus on Singaporeans celebrating in their homes, instead of at a central location like the Marina Bay floating platform.

Unlike previous parades, this year’s NDP will see many segments moved to the heartland and streamed online, said the organising committee last Wednesday.

For the first time, the state flag fly-past, fighter jet aerial display, Red Lions free-fall jump, and mobile column drive-past will take place across Singapore. Vessels from the Singapore navy and public agencies will be part of a maritime sail-past.

The plans cheered up ST Facebook users like Benjamin Tan, who wrote: “Hooray, the mobile column is back! Glad they added the navy sail-past.”

“Will be nice to have the fighter planes perform all around us,” said another, Prem Ganison.

The show will also pay tribute to Covid-19 front-line workers and culminate in a nationwide anthem and pledge moment, with fireworks at more than 10 locations.

SAFER

Other ST Facebook readers were worried by the NDP plans.


The heartland will be where many segments of this year’s National Day Parade will take place, and the event will also be streamed online. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Steven Tor P H wrote: “These are crowd-pullers… Expect people to social distance or even stay home when they are expecting to watch the event live?”

The NDP organisers said that the health of the participants is of the utmost importance, with a reduction of about 90 per cent in their numbers for the Padang parade. Rehearsals will start only after the circuit breaker period ends on June 1. Prevailing guidelines for large-scale events will be adhered to.

NOTABLE TRENDS

DINING IN IS ‘HIGHLY INFECTIOUS ACTIVITY’: An expert said it comes as no surprise that dining in at eateries will remain prohibited when the circuit breaker ends next month, given that the Covid-19 virus has spread very quickly in such settings. Some Straits Times Facebook users were disappointed that they will not be able to eat at restaurants for quite some time. One of them, Daisy Setyono, asked: “Can at least allow solo diners with a lot of social distancing measures like Thailand?”

LIMITS TO VISITING PARENTS: Some ST Facebook users were a little confused by the rules for visiting their parents or grandparents from June 2. Each visit to a household can be made by up to two people who live together. However, siblings will not be allowed to visit one another. Kevin Loh asked: “What happens if the parents live with either of the siblings? So it means no visiting of the parents?”

For the evening show, the committee is not, at the moment, planning for any spectators.

But a few ST Facebook readers were still uneasy. “This is not the time to have any rehearsal or performance. Lives are at stake,” said Catherine Agatha, also suggesting that the authorities “replay all the past years’ NDP (shows) to save on costs”.

SAVINGS AND CHARITY

ST Facebook user Shameem Angullia was hardly alone in saying: “Cancel NDP. No need to celebrate NDP this year, with Covid-19 still going on. Save money. Government spent a lot of money already.”

“Cancel the event,” urged Gwyneth Seah. “Have a special monetary bonus for our healthcare workers. On the day itself, set a timing that we say pledge and sing anthem together. #MostMemorableNDP”

Asked about the cost of this year’s parade, the organisers said that the initial budget was planned for a floating platform celebration, and the concept of NDP has changed considerably from that. They said they will do all they can to make sure all expenditure is prudent and responsible.

Even with the NDP budget being managed well, some ST Facebook readers were keen to channel the funds to the needy.

Lee Chloe Kailing said: “Save the money, and redirect funds to low-income wage earners. We can do without fireworks, and just a speech by the PM will be sufficient.”

Rosamund OConnor echoed this: “Why not provide financial assistance to help the elderly and jobless. I am sure no one in their right mind would object. Those who want to celebrate N Day can make their own flags and wave it around.”

So, is the sentiment such that there is no need for even flags to be given out in funpacks?

About 1.2 million funpacks – traditionally given to each parade attendee – will be handed out to Singaporean and permanent resident households this year.

They will include items such as pledge cards, handheld flags and torch filters that Singaporeans can use to participate in the show.

ST Facebook readers were fairly vocal on the subject of funpacks.

Some are delighted by it, like Hawa Frose, who wrote: “Wow, a funpack for every home is a good move.”

Some had wish lists.

Madir Mahathir asked, “Inside funpack got Sheng Siong and FairPrice discount vouchers?”, while Mid D Man wrote, “National Day goodie pack: face mask, face shield, sanitiser and toilet roll”.

Others proposed ways to save money on funpacks.

Yap Li Yu suggested: “Perhaps there can be a platform where we can choose to opt out of our funpacks, to save those resources and channel that into something else. We can still enjoy NDP and be involved through digital platforms, even hanging the national flag etc.

“It is okay for those who want to receive theirs. This will help reduce wastage and move us towards a more sustainable consumption culture.”

While some of the posts sounded like complaints, they seemed to stem from concern for the needy, and for the organisers.

ST Facebook user Esther Goh said: “Thank you for all your efforts, NDP team… Don’t let the haters distract (you from) whatever you are doing.”

One post came from a place of concern for what people really want.

“Declare an additional day of public holiday for this Covid-19 period,” said ST Facebook reader Pat Pat, suggesting that this be done in lieu of an elaborate show.

Now that is a proposal we could possibly unite behind.

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