Marching in mum's footsteps 47 years later

DSP Lee Ting Wei, 29, commander of the Singapore Police Force guard-of-honour contingent, with an old picture of his mother (second from right) in the Girl Guides. She took part in the 1973 National Day Parade.
DSP Lee Ting Wei, 29, commander of the Singapore Police Force guard-of-honour contingent, with an old picture of his mother (second from right) in the Girl Guides. She took part in the 1973 National Day Parade.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

In 1973, his mother, then a Secondary 3 student, marched past the historic Padang as part of the Girl Guides contingent for that year's National Day Parade (NDP).

Nearly 50 years on, Deputy Superintendent of Police Lee Ting Wei will do the same today, but as commander of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) guard-of-honour contingent.

The 29-year-old says he is honoured to - quite literally - follow in the footsteps of his mother, who wants to be known only as Madam Soon, 62.

"She had a keen interest in drills, parades and ceremonies, so I guess this rubbed off on me. She would catch the NDP every single year, and as kids we would watch together with her," he says.

This passion for drills would inspire DSP Lee to join the National Police Cadet Corps while he was in secondary school and, later on, the SPF.

The parade of his mother's time was a much larger and grander affair, with the contingents marching as far as Chinatown from the Padang, he shares.

This year, the parade participants will march in and around the Padang, presenting themselves to a small audience of about 150 spectators seated in front of the former Supreme Court building, now the National Gallery Singapore.

Apart from attending training and rehearsals about three times a week, DSP Lee also had to balance other commitments.

These include his job in SPF's training and capability development, as well as taking care of his baby daughter, born last December.

 
 

His colleagues and supervisor have helped to take the load off his shoulders. "My mother has been very excited. She has been very supportive of this endeavour and has helped out a lot in terms of the household and taking care of the baby," he says.

DSP Lee is no stranger to the NDP, having been the same police contingent's reserve commander last year.

Compared with the previous year, preparations for today's parade had a much shorter runway.

While training started around early May last year, this year it could begin only after the circuit breaker ended, in early June.

"We were mentally prepared that the parade would have to be scaled down. This is a challenging year, and the parade showcases Singapore's unity and solidarity."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2020, with the headline 'Marching in mum's footsteps 47 years later'. Print Edition | Subscribe