Treats new and unique at 'enclosed' NDP

Special needs participants and Singapore Soka Association performers singing the song Home at a media preview. The Aug 9 event will have, for the first time, "song signing". Led by sign language instructor Neoh Yew Kim, the audience will be invited t
Special needs participants and Singapore Soka Association performers singing the song Home at a media preview. The Aug 9 event will have, for the first time, "song signing". Led by sign language instructor Neoh Yew Kim, the audience will be invited to hand-sign popular NDP songs.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Despite the closed roof at the National Stadium, spectators inside will not miss a thing at this year's National Day Parade (NDP) - not even the outdoor firework display and flag flypast, which will be shown on big screens.

Organisers are promising a host of treats new and unique to the enclosed space.

Among them will be a six-storey-tall "Sky City" prop featuring 15 buildings such as Changi Airport, and the cloud forest and flower domes of the Gardens by the Bay.

Paying tribute to four civilisations whose values and beliefs Singapore inherited will be aerial performers wearing 8m-long culturally inspired costumes.

There will even be a giant unicorn galloping through the air across the stadium - inspired by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's remark last year about Singapore being one of a kind, like the legendary creature.

Giant hanging props will be brought to life using 3D projection mapping.

The show will kick off with a lesser-known legend, of Badang and the Singapore stone.

Badang, it was said, was a village fisherman who defeated a water ghost and gained super strength.

He later became the sultan's royal guard and lifted a giant boulder that sat on a hill for centuries. A fragment from it is now called the Singapore stone.

Actor Rizman Putra Ahmad Ali, 38, who will play him, thinks the tale will create dialogue between generations as parents may remember the legend.

He was about eight years old when he watched old Malay films about Badang, whom he likens to "our own version of Hercules", adding: "It's a very important tale, but people have forgotten about it."

The Aug 9 event will also have indoor fireworks, flame projections and, for the first time, "song signing". Led by sign language instructor Neoh Yew Kim, the audience will be invited to hand-sign popular NDP songs.

 
 

The 22-year-old, who has a hearing disability, will lead more than 150 special needs participants from seven voluntary welfare organisations in performing favourites such as Home and Count On Me, Singapore.

"(This experience) gives me an opportunity to showcase the beauty of sign language," said Ms Neoh through an interpreter. "As Singapore is gearing towards a more inclusive society, we people with special needs can show our abilities rather than our disabilities."

The chairman of the show committee, Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Jason See, said the enclosed space means that there cannot be "the traditional crowd-pleasers" like the Red Lions parachutists and the military vehicle displays. However, he hopes the sign language segment will allow all to come together in a "unifying gesture of what it means to... build a more caring and inclusive Singapore".

Creative director Beatrice Chia-Richmond said this show is "the first of a new chapter" that is going to be about the future. She added: "One of the key themes this year is to look forward, as opposed to being too retrospective."

Correction Note: An earlier version of this story said that Ms Neoh Yew Kim has a hearing and slight speaking disability. It is incorrect. She has a hearing disability. It has been corrected.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Treats new and unique at 'enclosed' NDP'. Print Edition | Subscribe