National Day Parades (NDP) are a joyous celebration of patriotism and harmonious cohesion; at the same time, on a more intrinsic level, they serve as timely reminders of our achievements and vulnerabilities, as well as the importance of moving forward collectively. Correspondingly, Mr. David Lim – in his commentary “Why The Obsession With NDP Fun Packs” (July 8, 2011) – makes the excellent observation that Singaporeans’ perspectives on NDPs might have evolved, over the years, and have become more materialistic (premised upon the disproportionate focus on the contents of the fun packs, nitpicking the parade performance items et cetera).
Mr. Lim attributes the aforementioned propositions to heightened material fixation, explaining that this obsession over perpetual “wants” may have caused the populace to lose sight of the original purposes of the fun packs and parades. However, I believe that succeeding organising committees and creative teams should take considerable responsibility to attempting to pedantically pander to the supposed demands of the audience instead of comprehending the appropriate motivations traditionally associated with the yearly parades. Quite interestingly, celebrations for our country’s independence have not significantly moved beyond the parade framework per se.
While representatives have fervently contended that the fun pack parody was tongue-in-cheek, it has been perceived negatively as a lacklustre attempt to make young Singaporeans more enthusiastic. Not only has it given Singapore a bad rep within the global Internet community, it has left individuals cringing over the absence of originality, embarrassing lyrics, and the blatant commercialisation encompassed (a specific concern that is evidenced in assorted NDP segments). Quintessentially, it aptly epitomises the growing misdirection of the parades in recent years.
Stripped away of the glitz and glamour, Singaporeans will gradually become cognisant that the most effective celebrations were those that connected emotionally, those that subtly reminded us of the importance of our family and friends. Therefore, it is not difficult to see why honest tunes like “Home” and “Where I Belong”, and the dedicated involvement of volunteer motivators have been etched in the memories of the audiences. Conceptually, NDP committees in the future have the impetus to productively rework the approaches, and not just seek to entertain for the mere sake of doing so.
Moving forward, National Day celebrations should not be confined to parades and celebratory public service award ceremonies; in the spirit of togetherness, it should also be a time to remember fellow citizens or households who might be struggling with day-to-day commitments or endeavours. Engagement in community service or volunteerism would be a meaningful and constructive way of commemorating our country’s independence, and make individuals realise that our national celebrations should not be based on fanfare alone; but should be inclusive, expressive for everyone and anyone.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.