Driving home the National Day message with car and neighbourhood decor

ST VIDEO: TOH TING WEI
Gojek driver Henry Ho, who has been decorating his car and customising outfits for National Day for more than 10 years, made a birthday cake model to install at the front of his car this year.
Gojek driver Henry Ho, who has been decorating his car and customising outfits for National Day for more than 10 years, made a birthday cake model to install at the front of his car this year.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
Carpenter Tan Koon Tat with the structure he created to celebrate National Day this year.
Carpenter Tan Koon Tat with the structure he created to celebrate National Day this year. ST PHOTO: TOH TING WEI

For more than a decade, driver Henry Ho, 63, has been doggedly working on a mission.

The former taxi driver and now private-hire driver has been decorating his car and wearing customised outfits during the National Day periods. He hopes this will inspire others to join in to celebrate the event.

"Everybody decorates their house for events such as Chinese New Year, Christmas and Deepavali… but people don't dress up their house for National Day," the Gojek driver told The Straits Times last week. "I always do the designs and wear the uniforms, because I want to remind people of it before the actual day. I am hoping everybody will follow, but so far I don't know anybody who has done so."

Mr Ho first got the idea more than 10 years ago, when he saw a taxi driver with a small flag on his car. Since then, he has been researching the year's National Day theme and putting up the car decorations one month before Aug 9.

This year, he made a birthday cake model to install at the front of his car and custom-made an entire National Day-themed outfit. The outfit comprises a hat, shirt, coat, trousers and shoes.

Most of his car is plastered with self-made stickers related to National Day, although Mr Ho made sure to do it in a way that does not affect his view when he is driving.

Stickers pasted on the top and bottom of his windscreen proudly wish the country a happy 54th birthday, while the front of his car has the cake and a sticker showing the Singapore flag. The fuel cap cover is wrapped with a cloth sporting the Singapore flag, and even the top of his car has another sticker celebrating National Day. Heart-shaped stickers with Mr Ho's pledges to be a considerate neighbour and to respect everyone, among other things, are also pasted on the windscreen and around his car body.

Gojek driver Henry Ho, who has been decorating his car and customising outfits for National Day for more than 10 years, made a birthday cake model to install at the front of his car this year.
Gojek driver Henry Ho, who has been decorating his car and customising outfits for National Day for more than 10 years, made a birthday cake model to install at the front of his car this year. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Passengers lucky enough to ride in his car will get free Singapore flags from him and enjoy songs from his National Day music collection.

Mr Ho estimates that he has spent between $1,000 and $1,500 this year on his various efforts, similar to the sums that went into his efforts in previous years. He earns about $4,000 a month.

He added: "For me, I will continue to do this until the day I die."

In a similar vein, carpenter Tan Koon Tat has also been putting up National Day decorations over the past decade. But instead of his car, he decorates his neighbourhood, at Block 178 Woodlands Street 13.

Mr Tan, 59, who also puts up decorations for other festivities, installed a 1.3m-tall island-shaped structure this time around. A mannequin designed to be Sang Nila Utama is placed on top of the structure, facing a lion model. This depicts the legend of how Singapore got its original name of Singapura more than 700 years ago.


Carpenter Tan Koon Tat with the structure he created to celebrate National Day this year. ST PHOTO: TOH TING WEI

There are four sections on the sides of the structure, with each representing a block of 50 years from 1819 till today and showing key points in that period of history.

 
 

Mr Tan's son and a friend had helped to find maps used in each corresponding period. They then searched for pictures and did write-ups explaining the history in detail.

Mr Tan told ST in Mandarin: "The media kept reporting about this year being the bicentennial year, so I decided to do something related to it and let people learn more about it.

"I wanted to do it because we are Singaporeans, and I love Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2019, with the headline 'Driving home the National Day message in a different way'. Print Edition | Subscribe