NS50 Week to feature picnic, free gym visits and music album launch to thank servicemen and their families

Singer Nathan Hartono, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and vocalist group Camokakis (in black) at a recording session last Tuesday for We Are The People, one of the tracks in the NS50 album to be released during NS50 Week.
Singer Nathan Hartono, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and vocalist group Camokakis (in black) at a recording session last Tuesday for We Are The People, one of the tracks in the NS50 album to be released during NS50 Week. PHOTO: MINDEF
NSMen and their families can look forward to activities such as a picnic and a sports festival to celebrate NS50.
NSMen and their families can look forward to activities such as a picnic and a sports festival to celebrate NS50.PHOTO: SAFRA TAMPINES

SINGAPORE - National servicemen and their families can look forward to a host of activities such as a national service (NS) themed picnic, free gym and swimming pool access, and the launch of an album of NS-related songs during NS50 Week, which starts from Tuesday (Aug 1).

In recognition of the important supporting role of the family, many of the week's events, that will take place between Aug 1 and Aug 10, aim to promote family bonding.

One such event is the free Families for Life "Celebrating NS50" Picnic, co-organised by the Families for Life Council and the Singapore Discovery Centre (SDC), which will be held on Aug 5, from 4.30pm to 9.30pm.

Among the activities at the picnic is a Safti-Pasir Laba coach tour, which will be the first time coach tours are being held for Pasir Laba Camp. Visitors will be able to see notable landmarks like the Safti Tower, Peng Kang Hill, and the state-of-the-art Multi-Mission Range Complex, an indoor live-firing range.

Other activities during the picnic, an initiative by the Advisory Council of Community Relations in Defence (Accord), will also be organised for national servicemen to share their experiences during their NS with their families. These include the making of identification tags and insignias, and camouflage face painting.

Brigadier-General (NS) Ishak Ismail, 54, a Families for Life council member, said: "This picnic strengthens the concept that the strong bonds of the family are a core part of supporting NS... We are happy to be doing this with Accord, in this unique venue."

It is the first picnic organised by the council with an NS theme. He added that SDC, where the picnic is held, used to be a training ground where he dug foxholes during his days in the army.

Other family events include the "Get Active and Celebrate NS50" Sports Festival at the Toa Payoh Hub atrium on Aug 5 and Aug 6, which will feature an NS-inspired obstacle course that includes low wall and flying fox stations. Past and present national servicemen will also be able to take their family and friends into all ActiveSG gyms and swimming pools free of charge on those two days.

A music album commemorating 50 years of NS will also be launched. It comprises six original NS-related songs composed and performed by current and past national servicemen.

One highlight is a rap number, Book Out Day, by rapper Shigga Shay and film director Jack Neo, which marksthe first time the two local celebrities are collaborating on a song.

The album will also feature a Malay and a Tamil song by singers Sezairi Sezali and Shabir respectively.

Singer Nathan Hartono will lend his vocals to English and Mandarin songs with other performers for the album as well.

An 18sec teaser of the English track Hartono sings in, We Are The People, was released on Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's Facebook page on Tuesday (July 25).

Mr Loh Aik Khoon, 48, who is executive producer of the album and head of content (live engagement) at So Drama! Entertainment, hopes the songs on the album resonate with listeners' NS experiences.

" The themes we gave to the various composers were emotive ones, like affinity with the family, unity and brotherhood, and not taking our home for granted," said Mr Loh.

The album took about 11 months to complete. Its title track, We'll Carry On, was released on June 30, while the remaining tracks will be released on Aug 4 across platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud. The remaining tracks will be performed for the first time on Aug 5 and 6 at the Sports Festival.

Said NS50 Secretariat member, Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Ong, of the NS50 Week activities: "NS has come a very long way in 50 years. I think it's only apt to take this opportunity to celebrate and recognise this important milestone, that NS has actually brought about peace and stability for our nation.

"It's really about thanking and appreciating our servicemen, past and present, who have gone through this rite of passage to serve."

More information about the NS50 Week activities can be found at http://mindef.sg/ns50week, which will be up on Monday (July 31).