The Singapore National Day Parade – Why The Hell Would You Do That?

The following text is based on my personal “encounter” with the Singapore National Day Parade during this years first rehearsal.

Obviously I am not Singaporean, which means I am not able to share heartwarming and patriotic moments with you, like singing the National anthem with 25.000 other people, or feeling overwhelming joy about the free “Funpacks”.

Instead I can show you how a foreigner sees and feels about these 2 hours filled with interesting but weird elements, that got me and my buddy asking more then once “Why the hell would you do that!?”

I Totally Didn’t Care About The Singapore National Day

Two years ago I didn’t even realize it was National Day at all. I usually have to work on public holidays, so most of them simply pass me without any bigger notice. But what I cared about was that all the hawker centers where closed and not even the usual Fast Food places were open. I was starving. First impression of Singapore’s National Day.

Last year I spent a lazy day in bed, watching bad movies and eating Moon Cake until I realized I just had missed the celebrations once again. Anyway, I still didn’t care. And this time I wasn’t starving. People in “Predator II” were shot in my TV with perfect harmony to the popping of the fireworks outside. My second impression of Singapore’s National Day.

25.000 Singaporeans And Me

This year finally I was kind of forced into showing some interest. If my friend hadn’t given me the two free tickets, I probably had spend the day sleeping or somewhere along the coast line of Thailand.

Me, my Ang Moh Buddy and 25.000 Singaporeans, crazy patriotic enthusiastic for their country, so we thought. We even dressed in kind of red, and were prepared as good as possible for the event, so we thought. (Read: 5 Things You Must Bring To The Singapore National Day)

We turned up about 30 minutes before the official start, went through the health and security checks and then… of course queued up for the free Goody Pack. I think you HAVE to queue up for the pack. After 10 minutes in the afternoon heat, hurting feet and not really interested in a pair of plastic flags and old green tea, I asked if we could just pass and go in directly… we got starred at like being the big headed, grey skinned Alien from the X-Files.”No Way!”

The Non-Enthusiastic Crowd

So after picking up our fantastic “FunPack”, we immediately felt happiness and a lot funnier then before. Just weird that they didn’t have them in red or white, the two most important colors as I thought, but only in some strange neon-wanna-be-cool ones. (Read: 7 Weird Facts About the Singapore National Day)

We got the first stares after sitting down, unpacking our goodies, placing the Singapore-Tattoos on our foreheads and waving the little flags around the uncles and aunties to our sides. We thought it was time for celebration. The locals thought we were retards and continued to play on their PSPs.

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‘)); ?> Through the whole event I couldn’t really spot any big excitement or enthusiasm around us. It looked like people were afraid to express any kind of joy. Maybe they did not have any. So the two Ang Mohs started the waves, shouted and blinked and waved when they were supposed to, and soon had gathered 9 of the 10 official photographers around us. In the end, who wants pictures of bored children and Daddys enjoying their Burgers more then what was happening on stage…

…and What The hell Was Happening On Stage?

Fake Bombs And A Little Bit Communism

When the first blast went off and the screens displaying laughing kids sharing their “Singapore Moments” switched to some surprisingly realistic looking “Breaking News” we coughed. When they showed the pictures about bomb attacks all over Singapore, bloody corpses and screaming parents, I almost choked up my curry puff.


Bomb attacks at the Singapore National Day
Photo by mateus27_24-25

In the same instant that the news anchor was rescued from her studio, some more blasts went of all around us and “fake” deadly gas and smoke was slowly covering the colorful stage below us.
Once the wind cleared the haze, formerly smiling and singing school kids had collapsed and were lying dead on the floor or just breaking down in some almost professional looking fight with the poison.

My friend and me just starred at the scenery, the open mouth wouldn’t close for the next minutes, and once the army had arrived to show of their whole contingent of killing machinery and (of course) successfully fought of the terrorists, I stumbled a “Wow, that was quite… drastic” and my friend mumbled .. “Yeah, in the cinema they censor every drop of blood and here they give you a freaking R-Rated live show of “Killing Fields” plus the whole Look-At-Our-Weapons-And-Be-Scared program like they did home 50 years ago“.

The Singapore national Day Is So.. Singaporean

Having a cold beer later and joking about our “near-death” experience earlier, my buddy and me concluded on the Singapore National Day.

In the end, everything from the Queuing for the Free Goodie Bags, filled with Voucher-Booklets and Patriotic Tattoos, to the Crowd without Emotions and the feeling that people around us simply didn’t really know how to create a wave of Enthusiasm and Express Themselves, to the final overly Drastic And Overdone Showoff of their Military Power, the try to Create A Singaporean Spirit on stage and the Fireworks in the end…

it all was so typically Singaporean, just compressed into a 2 hours event and maybe not that bad after all.

However, all I go there, I can have every day on my walk through Singaporeans streets, keep on walking, theres a lot lying ahead.


comments

27 Comments

Priscilla

Really funny!!! Oh boy. I must say that not even staying overseas makes me miss the National Day parades. But I do talk about it fondly when people ask about Singapore /its National Day, how Singapore was founded etc.

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Chris

Somehow, I didn’t find this blog funny… perhaps it’s the style that it was written which didn’t seem to bring across the humour, if it was meant to do so.

I’m Singaporean and working overseas for the last ten years or so. I don’t miss the NDP and have in the past taken only a very vague interest in it, not for any lack of patriotism for the country but thought it really for those who have time to ‘waste’. Me? I was working shift work then in Singapore, making sure the essential services were kept ticking whilst others wave, cheer, sing, shout!

I’m curious to know what ang-mo you are, if at all you are. Your style of writing gave you away, in some way… so, I don’t think you’re a Brit (or English… they seem to think Scots and Welsh don’t have much humor)…

Enjoy this NDP!

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Singaporean

why the hell would you do that? if you don’t get it then don’t comment on it. this is singapore of course NDP should be singaporean. i dont think any other country will provide you with such peaceful & enjoyable national day. i love singapore & i’m proud to be a singaporean. You have no rights to put us down. where the hell were you when this island was a swamp?

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belle

you went to an ND parade and sat waving plastic flags with ‘aunties & uncles’, and felt miserable – yeah serves you right.

I have avoided ND parades as well as the tv telecast for as long as I can remember. But not because its corny or whatever. We have our issues with the government, and i think thats not something you expats would want to know so i won’t mention it here. Thus – the avoidance/boycott.

At between 7pm & 8pm (NDP time today), i went jogging at a park with others who consider ourselves ‘global citizens’. We don’t see the need to say the pledge, sing the anthem or wave the flag. We enjoyed ourselves since the park was nearly empty, we didnt have to bump into people, or say ”scuse mee’ or ‘tsk tsk’.

Join us next year ! (if you’re still here …)

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admin

hey sherlin, thats some interesting thoughts you have, why do you think no other country would be able to provide their people with an equally peaceful and enjoyable National Day? Is that because they are not as happy as Singaporeans, or dont spend millions of their tax payers money on fireworks?
And by the way, I’m not putting you down :) I actually mentioned that I enjoyed it…and uhm… I’m not so sure where you are heading when asking me, the Ang Moh, where I was when Singapore was a “swamp”…where was I supposed to be?.. Context? :)

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admin

..oh and chris…you right, im not British or “English”.. but I’m Ang Moh… I believe so..

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belle

You are not british, american, etc … you’re probably jewish. And from germany. Because jewish people are inclined to highlight racial /cultural differences and are very sensitive to these differences, whereas the rest of us try to downplay these differences and be friends.

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belle

I stumbled upon this blog when i was googling ‘rude singaporeans manners’.

Its a great blog with excellent links. The parts about travel are good. The cultural-bashing part – hmm, a bit over-the-top. The things you say are not untrue, but they make you look like you’re so miserable here in singapore. That’s all i want to say.

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belle

i don’t think you’re just 26 years old, you sound much older than that.

you sound like a cynical jaded 50 year old western expat who’s lived most of his life in s’pore and are sick of the place like most of us are.

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admin

Belle, dont take things so personal, as you do right now.. glad you enjoy the travel part, and as you may have noticed this blog is meant to entertain and polarize, so I am glad I do, and sorry to disappoint you, I’m not Jewish and neither am I 50 years, glad I’m not…still have 24 years to go :)

And Belle.. do you actually realize how big your prejudices and stereo type pictures about all those nations mentioned by you are, Brits, American, Jewish… if the aunties in the elevator think the same way, no wonder they all stare at me :)

I wonder where you got those opinions of, and for my part, read this reg my racial-harmony comment http://www.angryangmo.com/2009/06/15/west-and-asia-racism-sauerkraut/

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RED-man

The Singapore NDP is just a BIG show for both Singaporean and Foreigners.

– For Singaporean –
It is to show that more than 66% of the population support the PAP. So, if the existing 66% want to switch side and vote for the opposition during the next election, think again.

– For Foreigners –
Singaporean are so obedience, don’t worry, PAP have them very much under control. They will not strike, they will not ask for high pay and shorter working hours. Come and invest in Singapore.

Reply
KM

National Day is one of the best public holidays of the year. The “patriotic” Singaporeans are glued to their TVs watching the parade, and for those 2 hours I was brought back to the time when streets, malls and amenities were not overcrowded.

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Panzer

I stopped watching NDP knowing that it is mostly organised using conscripted NSFs and the occasional sad reservist who was called up to march in the parades.

To add salt to injury, those NSmen from my unit who marched in the NDP served the same number of in-camp training as the rest of us who didn’t.

Majullah Singapura.

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Unsingaporean

I can’t help but laugh. Now, I can’t help but add a comment or two.

I am a Singapore who absolutely dislike the false patriotic display, especially during NDP. It disgusts me to see how the soldiers are being used as a form of entertainment, military weapons and vehicles are the best things to promote peace and harmony? It does not make any sense to me. What does that teach the young children here?

I caught the bit on the fake terriorist scene on TV when I popped by my neighbour’s house to pick up my kids. It was a horror show. Like Mr Angry Angmo and his friend, my jaw dropped. I probably will choke too if I have a curry puff. Then I laugh. Is that stupid or what? Wake up, go and watch a documentary about the bombing in Iraq.

By the way, how many of you have done any research about terrorism? Do you really understand what is terrorism? Preventing one’s rights to speak is a form of terrorism, don’t you think?

Kumar said while others cheer with excitement when they see the fireworks on NDP, he cries. Why? Because there goes his hard earned money. Just imagine how much is spend on the day itself and during the rehearsal. Now, stop and think about how that kind of money can be better used to help poor old age Singaporeans who slaved away their whole life to build the country and are now sick, illiterate and still working until 80 years old as they have been told to.

Finally, tell me who own all the biggest so-called-private companies and corporations here? If the father is not private then how can the children be private? Try doing business with them. If you are lucky, they will see you as a shrimp. If not, you will be a plankton. Either way, you must always say “yes” in order to pay for a shoebox in the sky then a yearly $100 tv license to support stations that provide only crap dramas and censored news.

Which country has the best paid ministers? Maybe Obama should consider migrating here like the rest of the movie stars. In UK, details of the expense claims for the MPs were made public. I don’t think such thing will ever happen here. Perhaps there is no such thing as claims cos everything is free when you have power.

I am not an university student, a high school dropout nor a rejected applicant to run for presidency. I am a regular Singaporean who wonders why it always rain the day before and after NDP, and the rain smells? Cloud seeding if you haven’t heard of it. Is it dangerous? Find out yourself – http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/artificial-rain-or-the-real-thing/

Am I at risk for asking relevant questions? Of course I am. Why, because I carry a red passport mah!

Reply
AZ

Yeah, and the last unit in the best unit competition get to clean up the mess after the big party. That part is more real…

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Adrian

@Singaporean: “i dont think any other country will provide you with such peaceful & enjoyable national day.” (4th comment from the top)

I am born and bred in Singapore and a 100% patriot. The above comment however is the typical chest-beating, ‘we are oh-so-bloody-clean-safe-peaceful-better in every way’ attitude that is the cause of everything wrong with my beloved country today.

Reply
R

hello… i stumbled upon this blog while doing some research for my schoolwork… would like to highlight a few things that you’ve mentioned in your NDP-related posts.

ISSUE NO. 1: the FunPacks. Yes, they come in 8 different colours this year. Yes, none of them are red or white.

Every year, people who managed to get their hands onto a FunPack just “toss their bags aside” after national day (they never use it at all). This year’s NDP committee wanted to change that. They did some research on how to get people to reuse the FunPack bags, and here’s what they got:

1) People don’t use the bags outside as their designs are not appealing, and

2) The bag’s colours are not attractive enough.

So, working on this, they decided to make the bags in the most popular colours – red and white not included.

And true enough, more people were seen using their bags for personal use this year, as compared to those before.

And FYIi, they did make a ninth colour, red and white. It’s a limited edition.

ISSUE NO. 2: the 8:22 Pledge moment happened ONLY this year.

Why? The pledge is something that Singaporeans have learnt to recite from heart since primary school, and the words have been etched in their memories ever since.

This year’s NDP is very largely based on extracts from the Pledge. This is the significance that the Pledge plays for NDP 2009. Hence, by encouraging the people of Singapore to say the Pledge together on a large scale, just like in the old days back in school, it reinforces the sense of patriotism to the country that made them, despite how they detest her for the remaining 364 days of the year.

And like the pledge says, “We, The citizens of Singapore, Pledge ourselves as ONE UNITED PEOPLE.” The act of saying this out loud with 4 million other people who call themselves Singaporeans, reminds us to stand united, regardless of race, language or religion.

It may seem silly to you, but for Singaporeans, this one minute of respect to your country actually contains a very powerful meaning behind it.

There are many issues that you have brought up in your posts which I feel you have failed to see the Singaporean point of view, or the story and rationale behind them. But I think I’ll stop here for today. Gotta go…

Reply
RS

Loved this year’s NDP. Can’t wait for the next! We celebrated with hundreds of other Singaporeans cheering and waving the flag, and then said the pledge and sang the national anthem together – talk about being emotional! Living abroad brings out the patriot in you.. I love you, Singapore; happy birthday, again!

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Roggy

I have read this blog site for at least 6 months now. Belle and Singaporean you are way off the mark IMO. At least AAM is actually experiencing the culture and in most part enjoying it. I actually think a lot of expats could learn from his open attitudes.

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maxibon

well written. i’m a singaporean and this is my first time on this blog. very well written. some singaporeans are just too deep inside to understand

Reply
Aiya, ok lah..

I love NDP; juz not lucky enuf to get the tix to watch it. So, pp who manage to get the chance to watch the NDP, appreciate it pls.

I laughed when I read wat you wrote. Yes, it is funny – naughty but funny.

Everyone has his/her personal opinion. I feel sad whenever I hear pp (citizens/PRs) complaining abt Singapore. My impulsive reply would be “not happy dun stay here lah!”

The thing is, there are always two sides to a coin. Well paid govt/efficient govt. Rules = safety/boring. Firework = spending/celebration.

It’s all depends on how you see it.

I love Singapore. I wanna stay here. Pp says Singapore no freedom. To me, I’d rather have to freedom to drive out at 2am to get food w/o worrying getting mugged than to have freedom to express my political view or… chew gum?

Singaporeans are unique(nicely phrased) or “one-kind” (to put it crudely) Attitude not very good… But not all Singaporeans are so.

Govt, they decide we follow. If they are good, why not? Either you choose to lead, or you choose to follow. Simple rule of life. Else, be solo.

Singapore is not perfect. Nobody is, no country is. It is a matter of how you see and how you want yourself to feel towards what or how you see.

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Angmoh bashing Sg girl

Um, we already know that NDP is a monumental charade and bizarrely unique to Singapore, the communist reference has also been made before. What new insights have you provided in this blog entry? I haven’t read your other entries, so I can’t comment on them. But I was hoping for some real insight instead of the usual ang-mo-tinted pseudo commentary centred around what you think is cool or socially acceptable behaviour. The tickets were wasted on you, some other auntie or uncle would have deserved them much more.

Hope you’re really an angry ang moh now ;P

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C0rdelia

The only way I could enjoy National Day (i actually avoid even seeing the whole dang thing on telly) is if I was completely wasted. Hah!

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Paul

I’ve been in Singapore for about 17 months and was here before on a first visit in 2003 to meet my Singaporean galfriend (we’re still together but not married yet). I think Singapore is a great place. No Gay Pride Parade where cocks and jocks kiss each other in public. No 24-hour Gay TV which you have in Toronto every year now. While it is true that freedom of expression is tightly controlled in Singapore, it’s not as bad as China or the (ex) Soviet Union; but in Canada and the USA, supposedly bastions of free expression, did you know that it is now a hate crime punishable by jail to say anything negative about homosexuals? Did you know that people have been prosecuted in Canada and even threatened by Social Services that their children will be forcibly removed from their homes and housed by the State, because their parents refused to allow their children to be taught by a homosexual or because they opposed the indoctrination of their children that gay sex is normal and that ‘two daddies’ is not something unnatural and which doesn’t happen in nature? That said, although I like Singapore I would not say I love it or would live here forever. I miss the fact that I could own a van in Toronto and drive 4000 miles in one direction if I wanted, any time I wanted. I miss the fact that I can pay $70 a month for car insurance and have $1 million in liability for that and comprehensive coverage; of course, I miss the fact that in Canada and the UK, I can own a vehicle without a COE and do not pay any road tax (I bought my Chevrolet Astro 3.7 litre six cylinder 1988 van (in 2000) for $2700 CDN and drove it for 50,000 miles or so before it had to be scrapped). I miss the snow at Christmas. I miss the lovely cool air in Winter; and the snowflakes and the beauty of the Canadian mountains and lakes. Singapore is a great country; but it troubles me that so many young and older Singaporeans do not seem to understand how small and provincial it is; and how much they will miss if they decide to live here for their entire lives, especially if they do so simply because it is ‘risky’ to live elsewhere. I have visited India several times, lived in Malaysia, lived in the UK (London, mostly); and lived in Germany and Canada (and a bit of the USA); and Singapore ranks up there very high on the list of the best places to live in the world (I dare say, even at the top). But, what would keep me from putting it at the top, is the fact that it is a city and not really a country; it is an economy driven by corporate needs, more than it is a country driven by people with a vision for the world and the desire to give to humanity. There are so many good things about Singapore; but the fact that the vast majority of people here have no vision for the world except for what they can get for themselves; what they can TAKE from the world, cannot bode well for the longevity of peace and stability in Singapore. If I understand Karma right, we all reap what we sow. If the majority of Singaporeans are only interested in reaping what they can get, and disinterested in what they can give to others and even other countries, to make those places better to live and to assist other countries in becoming givers and not takers, then i think in the end, Singapore will see itself become very hollow spiritually and merely a place for the very rich to park their toys, and extract their wealth, and make use of Singaporeans as mere means to an end — the creation of temporal riches that pass away — and Singapore, as a people and a culture, will simply become a sea of materialistic, narcissistic, and dead souls whose demise or fiery destruction will not even be missed.

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