The pandemic outbreak, countered with circuit breaker measures, has altered life here profoundly. Much of what could be taken for granted has moved into the sphere of the exceptional. Going to work, socialising with friends and many other everyday activities have assumed special significance. In one sense, this alteration of daily behaviour is good as it reminds citizens to take seriously what they possess, both individually and in common.
The National Day Parade, an annual highlight of the national calendar, is no exception. It reminds Singaporeans of how far the country has come since its independence because of the determination and grit of its citizens, past and present. The parade adds a festive glow to the hopes and aspirations of Singaporeans, embodied in the various national endeavours that are celebrated and on display: from military prowess to economic and social achievements.
The pandemic has also made it necessary to reconceptualise this year's parade. Thus, it will focus on having Singaporeans celebrate in their homes, instead of at a central location like the Padang or floating platform at Marina Bay. Unlike previous parades, this year will see many segments streamed live over television as well as on Internet platforms. This and other changes will give NDP 2020 a distinctive feel.
However, even the changes in the parade's format underline its essential purpose, which is to reiterate the idea of Singapore as a nation ready to overcome difficulties. Foresight, preparedness and inventiveness must be the hallmarks of Singapore in its ceaseless struggle against the economic odds, and now an unprecedented epidemiological challenge. The parade will be different, but that in itself underscores and represents how Singapore has been able to stay prepared, and ready to tackle any challenges it faces.