Channel NewsAsia

Singapore celebrates its 49th birthday

Tens of thousands of people watched the last National Day Parade at the Floating Platform at Marina Bay on Saturday evening.

SINGAPORE: The parade officially got underway at 5:40pm Saturday (Aug 9), but revellers came early, slowly transforming the Floating Platform into a sea of red. But it was seeing the Red Lions parachute team take a plunge from 10,000 ft that got them excited.

The team saw their jump called off at last year's Parade due to low cloud cover. This year, the skies initially appeared gloomy as well, but fans expressed confidence that they would come back with a roar. "We are die-hard fans. Definitely, they are going to make it!" said Abhi Palshatkaar.

And it was second-time lucky for Singapore's first female Red Lion parachutist, Third Warrant Officer Shirley Ng, as she finally managed to make her first jump during the parade. "It's very cool to watch them jumping down from such a height," said Joseph Lim.

Kicking off the parade and ceremony segment for the first time was a military band display, comprising some 160 performers. The segment also paid a touching tribute to the Pioneer Generation - seniors who had contributed to Singapore's success story.

The crowds welcomed former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and cabinet ministers. Amidst the 21-gun salute, President Tony Tan inspected the Guard-of-Honour contingent. As the parade segment drew to a close, the Dynamic Defence Display put up a rousing performance, showcasing some 30 state-of-the-art vehicles, and Singapore's defence prowess on land and sea.

Spectators were clearly impressed. "I like to see the showcase of the Singapore defence force, which has shown us how capable the Singapore defence is for the last 49 years to defend this country and I'm proud of that," said one.

"I think the most important part was when they shared with us the fire department demonstration, because this is about protecting the people in their daily lives," said another.


(Video by Tan Lee Lee)  

The Floating Platform turned into a big colourful party with this year's show segment. It celebrates the resilience of Singaporeans, and took audiences through stories of locals from all walks of life. It not only was a visual feast of multimedia, vibrant costumes and pop culture, it also bore a strong message of grit, determination, and lending a hand to one another.

For the first time in 16 years, there was also no theme song, but participants and the crowd indulged in some nostalgia with familiar favourites. Just after 8pm, the nation came to a standstill as Singaporeans recited the pledge together and sang the national anthem.

And as the song ended, the dark skies filled up in a burst of colour, marking a spectacular end to the nation's birthday.