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Hope, humour and heart: National Day Parade 2022 is an ode to the Singapore spirit

The National Day Parade celebrations at The Float @ Marina Bay marked a return to live performances on a grand scale after two years.

02:09 Min
Held for the final time at The Float @ Marina Bay before the show moves to the Padang next year, NDP 2022 captured the peaks and valleys of Singaporeans’ personal journeys over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic in its show segment. Chloe Choo with highlights of the performance.

SINGAPORE: There was no shortage of emotion at the National Day Parade (NDP) on Tuesday (Aug 9). 

Held for the final time at The Float @ Marina Bay before the show moves to the Padang next year, NDP 2022 captured the peaks and valleys of Singaporeans’ personal journeys over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic in its show segment. 

But before that, audiences were also treated to NDP staples like the Red Lions free-fall jump, total defence display segments and the marching contingents. 

This year’s NDP marked a return to live performances on a grand scale after two years. 

To start the show rolling, emcees Rishi Budhrani, Joakim Gomez, Sonia Chew and Siti Khalijah got the 25,000-strong crowd moving by teaching them how to use their heart drum found in the NDP fun pack. 

Then the Island Voices belted out old-school Singaporean hits in various languages to warm up the audience, including the Mandarin classic The Voice of the Ordinary People.  

The Tanjong Katong Secondary School band took to the stage, accompanied by dancers from the music and drama company. Their beats were complemented by percussion ensemble Republic Polytechnic’s Beats Encore and ZingO Festival Drum Group. 

As clear skies paved the way for the Red Lions to jump out of a plane 10,000ft above ground, the crowd waited with bated breath – and ready cameras – for the free-fallers to land. 

As the last of the 10 parachutists, Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Jeffrey Heng, descended, he skidded on the pavement and fell to the ground. Medics rushed to his side before he was stretchered off.

Shortly after, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote in a Facebook post that 3WO Heng was in stable condition, and was "alert and conscious".


People on the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands also got to enjoy the National Day Parade 2022. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

Following the Red Lions’ salute to the crowd once they landed, the first portion of the Total Defence Display began. After a five-year hiatus, the massive display of Singapore’s land, air and water defence assets returned to the parade. 

One particular highlight was the aerial display featuring two Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-16 pilots whose fighter jets engaged a heartstopping turn in close proximity of each other before doing a vertical climb. 

The parade and ceremony segment involved virtual and physical marching contingents. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)
The state flag flies past as the crowd stood to the national anthem at the National Day Parade 2022. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

Then came the parade segment, involving about 2,000 participants from physical and virtual marching contingents. 

This included more than 850 participants from youth uniformed groups as well as social and economic organisations, whose physical contingents were marching in person for the first time since 2019.    

“When I (do) public events, there's a lot of attention. A lot of parents will point me out to their kids. And some girls at a young age, they aspire to be like this,” said Captain Siow Jing Yi, who was the only female army contingent commander at NDP 2022. 

“I feel that I can be a role model whom others can look up to. To me, a military career (does not discriminate) between male or female. I just want to show (young girls) that we can be the same as well.” 

A simulation of a hostage situation on a hijacked bus. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

The second portion of the Total Defence Display featured a live demonstration of a hostage rescue from a hijacked bus. 

The dramatised simulation showcased the capabilities of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Special Operations Task Force. 

As dusk fell, the show segment opened with a lively song and dance on stage. Enhanced by vibrant animation and an upbeat music video on the jumbo screen, the first chapter captured Singapore during more carefree pre-pandemic times. 

One memorable sequence from the video, which made audiences laugh, was a spunky dance battle of sorts. A group of older women had crashed in on a group of younger females dancing to the song Boombayah by K-pop girl group BlackPink at a void deck of a housing block. 

Then in stark contrast to the show’s opening, the film called Connections, which was interwoven with the performance, opened with a scene of empty streets during Singapore’s “circuit breaker” period in 2020.  

Audiences waved their heart drums to the music in the NDP 2022 show's second chapter. (Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)

The darker mood segued into the show’s second chapter. Focusing on “unsung heroes” and “unsung angels”, it was underscored by local singer Aisyah Aziz’s voice. 

Injecting an intimacy absent from the stage, the film dived into how individual lives were affected by the circuit breaker. A GrabFood delivery rider who used to be a lighting technician and a Chinese teacher who had to conduct lessons over Zoom were among the characters introduced. 

Singer Jacintha Abisheganaden belting out old-school favourites to an appreciative crowd at the National Day Parade 2022. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

The show’s third chapter then paid tribute to families – a cornerstone of Singapore’s fight against COVID-19. 

A video montage highlighted several families that grappled with different struggles during the last two years, from one which helped their father accept his prostate cancer diagnosis to another which scrapped a big wedding ceremony for an intimate home celebration. 

To complement the chapter’s essence of returning to one’s roots for support, singers Jacintha Abisheganaden, Rahimah Rahim, Shabir and Liu Ling Ling each sang old-school hits in English, Malay, Tamil and Mandarin. 

Titled Fight, the fourth chapter featured impassioned performances from Singaporean rapper Shigga Shay and musician Elaine Khoo. 

The rap, which mimicked a battle cry, had its fiery lyrics enhanced by the drums from the Soka Gakkai Singapore and martial artists from Martial House. Audience members were also encouraged to thump their heart drums from their NDP funpacks along with the catchy beat. 

Then the concluding segment of the film came on screen, tying together the lives of the individual characters and displaying an interconnectedness that formed the bedrock of Singapore’s resilience through the pandemic. 

Finally, to end the night on the fifth and final chapter, Taufik Batisah and The Island Voices performed this year's NDP theme song, Stronger Together. Performers from the first four chapters of the show streamed on stage, launching into modern renditions of beloved NDP songs, from Home to Stand Up For Singapore.

While the zestful energy on stage mirrored the first chapter’s presentation of the Singapore spirit, the previous three chapters of strife and struggle allowed the audience to better appreciate the good times.  

And as fireworks exploded across the night sky to close off the nation’s 57th birthday bash, the crowd erupted in applause and cheer. 

After two years of muted celebrations, it felt like home, truly. 

Source: CNA/gy


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