BEHIND THE STAGE LIGHTS

Pioneers to don iconic outfits in vintage parade

Retired police officer Zailanee Othman, 56, will don the old police uniform his dad and granddad once wore.
Retired police officer Zailanee Othman, 56, will don the old police uniform his dad and granddad once wore. ST PHOTO; DESMOND FOO

Going through 56 hours of rehearsals would be a mean feat for anyone, but this is especially so if you are 71 years old.

However, for retired Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) warrant officer Yunnos Shariff, who first took part in the National Day Parade in 1968, it is a matter of pride.

He is one of 450 participants making up the vintage parade, in which they will be wearing iconic outfits and props from past street parades. Spectators will get to see the uniforms Singapore's soldiers, police officers and firemen used to wear.

Mr Yunnos fell ill after his first rehearsal at the Padang in June. He is the oldest of about 30 participants representing SCDF.

"When the committee wanted me to rest, I said 'no'," said the plucky retiree, who has four grandchildren and a great-grandchild. "I didn't expect to still be involved in this considering my age, so I'm very proud of it and I want to show that I can do it."

Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret) Swee Boon Chan, who was in the first NDP in 1966, will also be marching with other veteran soldiers. When invited to join in January, he agreed without hesitation and even gathered the rest. "In two weeks, I got the whole contingent of 50 people - all pioneers," said the 68-year- old, who retired from the Singapore Armed Forces in 1997.

"We are donning the uniforms of the early days to remind the newer generation where we have come from...We worked very hard (and) it was not easy," he said.

"It's an opportune time to tell our next generation - it's time for them to take over the baton and take Singapore to the next level."

For 56-year-old Zailanee Othman, who retired from the Singapore Police Force in 2009, it is a special chance to don the old police uniform with khaki shorts.

He added: "I come from a family of police officers and my granddad and my dad used to wear this... I hope the younger generation will remember, you have to defend Singapore."

Lim Yi Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2015, with the headline 'Pioneers to don iconic outfits in vintage parade'. Print Edition | Subscribe