SINGAPORE - Mr Zou Ji He, who will be working on Aug 9 at his hawker job this National Day public holiday, was pleased to receive his family's National Day Parade (NDP) pack on Monday (July 20).
It is the first NDP pack the permanent resident (PR) has managed to get his hands on since he moved here from China more than seven years ago. He was at Keat Hong Community Club in Choa Chu Kang to collect it with his seven-year-old daughter, his only child.
"She was born here and considers herself Singaporean. She particularly likes the flag and I am sure will be waving it. I think it is a great policy that the Government has included PR households in the scheme," said the 42-year-old.
Monday was the first day of the two-week collection period for the Singapore Together Pack at community clubs or centres (CCs) and residents' committee (RC) centres.
This year's pack comes in the form of a tote bag and, following suggestions that it should contain essentials more relevant to families amid a pandemic, includes hand sanitisers, a thermometer and face masks.
Every Singaporean and PR household is eligible to collect the bag this year. Each household can collect one pack, and residents must present their NRIC at the collection counters for verification.
Many said this is much more accessible than in previous years, when packs were given out only to those attending the parade, the parade rehearsals, and those supporting the organisation of the event.
Ms Esther Koh, who is currently unemployed but used to work in a petroleum company, said a bag per family is the "perfect" way to go about distributing the NDP packs.
"It is usually quite unfair because only selected people get it and it's so difficult to bid for tickets. Now, I can get the bags without having to sit under the hot sun for the parade," the 62-year-old said.
"If people do not want it, they can choose not to collect it. I think it's a very nice gesture by the Government."
In previous years, she and her family would book a table at a restaurant in Keat Hong CC to mark National Day. This tradition will be scaled down this year because of the coronavirus.
Like many others, Ms Koh will instead be watching the live proceedings on television while taking the chance to enjoy some family time.
There had been calls in some quarters in the lead-up to NDP this year to allow people to opt out of receiving the NDP pack, with a petition citing reasons ranging from the current economic conditions to other possible uses of the resources.
Mr Richard Ho, a manager at a medical company, said the contents of the bag could be streamlined further, as he rifled through the pack moments after collecting it at Keat Hong CC.
"I understand the need for commemorative items but things like the bag of chips are quite forgettable and not really necessary. But this year's bag is already better than previous years because it has fewer toys and more usable items, like face masks," the 52-year-old added.
Third-year polytechnic student Arthur Lee said it is good that the Government is still giving out the packs as they provide residents with a sense of normality during the pandemic.
Although the 19-year-old will likely have to study for his examinations during the NDP, he collected the pack on his family's behalf.
"I think it is not a bad tradition but we should keep talking about what we need or do not need in the bags.
"That they are giving the bags out to every family this year can be seen also as a show of support for everyone, especially since it has the thermometer and masks, and will raise spirits."
This year's pack also features 10 designs on the bags by aspiring artists with disabilities, as well as 10 designs by Primary 5 students.
The packs can be collected at all CCs until Aug 2 and at all RC centres until July 26. Counters will be open from 10am to 6pm, excluding public holidays.