Let’s get down to the brass tacks. This year’s Singapore National Day Parade (NDP) had two main talking points – that almost all the PAP MPs and ministers wore the national colour red for the first time at this event and that our ex-Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is alive!
Some people had joked that the Twitter rumour that LKY was sickly or dead could have been a campaign to get more people to tune in to the NDP. It’s sick if true but if it really were a guerilla campaign, it would be deemed successful judging by the amount of interest generated over the topic and over this NDP.
The post-parade media coverage both online and in the mainstream media had many photos of LKY on their front pages. The New Paper, in particular, went overboard with its cover page headlines today. TNP had tagged next to a large photo of LKY, three screaming headlines, each getting bigger from first to the last. The first headline read “ALIVE with lights” followed by “ABUZZ with RELIEF” and just in case you missed the point, the last headline in huge font size was “ALIVE with LOVE”!
Yes, many Singaporeans were relieved the rumour isn’t true, but TNP’s cover page was in poor taste if it was trying to pun on the dead or alive rumour and if the editors were trying to show their overzealous support for him. There is no need for such antics as we can see he is alive in the numerous media photos and on TV.
On my next point that grabbed eyeballs at the parade was the sea of blinding red every where. And the most eye-catching was when the PAP MPs and ministers streamed in wearing different shades of red instead of their usual party white. I spotted some of the old guards wearing all white though (maybe they didn’t get the PR memo to wear red?). But it was heartening to see that even MM and PM Lee wore red. This is a milestone as it is the first time the PAP entourage and our country’s leaders have donned our national colours in Singapore’s 47 years of national day celebrations. It was obviously done in response to the people’s feedback as many locals and even some foreigners (refer to a letter published in ST last week) had questioned why the PAP always wore white at the NDPs.
I believe many people including myself were happy to see the MIW in red at the NDP. This goes beyond mere symbolism as it shows a coming together for the nation. It also serves to remind them and all of us that nation comes before any political party and that the MPs and ministers are elected to serve the people and the nation. When the MIW used to wear white at our past NDPs, it showed their arrogance and a lack of connection with the people. Their all white ensemble also showed the priority they placed on their party.
I was also bedazzled, not by the fireworks, but by the numerous symbolisms of nationalism at this year’s NDP from the way the entire programme was crafted. The organisers obviously wanted to drum up the patriotism spirit and use the parade to unite the people after a tumultuous year post GE2012. National songs and OTT nationalistic interviews aside, they had everyone in the audience wear our national colours and wave many small Singapore flags and red scarves with the word Singapore emblazoned on them. These were nice touches that will help to enhance the people’s feelings towards their country as a picture paints a thousand words and can evoke positive feelings if used sensitively.
Hopefully, the government will look into improving the public decorations for the future National Day celebrations across the island too. They don’t need to spend a bomb on it. Simply start by hanging more Singapore flags in the streets and perhaps they could give out for free those nice little red and white flags, badges etc to the people. I am certain that while many people are reluctant to hang the flag outside their homes, they would at least wave the little flag. It may be baby steps, but hey patriotism isn’t built overnight and healing the nation takes time.
Anyway, now that the big show of nationalism and celebration is over, it’s time for our Government to knuckle down to work and put their words into action. There is a very long list of national issues and wrongs to be addressed. We will all be watching in hope that the results of their actions will be as vivid and positive as the red tops they wore at the NDP.