Kopitiam mother-son pair look forward to performing for thousands at NDP

Madam Eileen Ang and her son Sam Lee will march in the Kopitiam marching contingent at the National Day Parade this year.
Madam Eileen Ang and her son Sam Lee will march in the Kopitiam marching contingent at the National Day Parade this year.PHOTO: NDP EXCO

SINGAPORE - Madam Eileen Ang, 69, may be one of the oldest participants in the Kopitiam marching contingent at the National Day Parade (NDP) this year, but the grandmother-of-two is taking it all in her stride.

"I was a bit worried at first as it is my first time marching, and I was not familiar with the commands in Malay," the operations manager at the foodcourt chain said in Mandarin.

She disclosed that she was initially reluctant when her son, Mr Sam Lee, 48,who is in a similar position in the company, asked her to join him in the parade.

"I felt it (the parade) was more for young people," said Madam Ang. "But now, I find it very fun and good exercise."

Besides, mother and son are now able to spend more time together. They work at different Kopitiam outlets and only occasionally meet each other at the head office. In these brief exchanges, they will sometimes trade work tips, including on how to deal with difficult customers or working a new cashier system.

At the NDP rehearsals, however, conversations tend to be more centred on family.

"For example, I will ask him whether he is speaking to my grandchildren in English (to improve their language skills)," said Madam Ang. Her son has two children aged 10 and 12.

Mr Lee said that when rehearsals first began he would cast a watchful eye on his mother, to see how she would cope since it involved standing and marching under the hot sun.

"But now I realise she's actually better than many others," he said, sheepishly acknowledging that she may in fact be in better physical condition than him.

Madam Ang said she tries to go for walks every weekend at Farrer Park, which sometimes can stretch to up to three hours.

Both look forward to performing the drills before thousands on National Day.

"That will be an extra special moment for us," said Mr Lee, who has a 44-year-old brother.