SINGAPORE - On the morning of Aug 9, full-time national serviceman Lim Yu Jie, 20, will be entrusted with a sacred duty: He will raise the state flag at the Padang at 10.30am.
At the same time, the flag will also be raised in ceremonies at several locations across the country as Singaporeans unite in singing the National Anthem as one.
The National Day Parade (NDP) organising committee has ratcheted up the symbolic significance of celebrations this year and on Tuesday (July 28) released details of one of the cornerstones of this year's event, which it calls the "anthem moment".
Broadening NDP beyond its traditional association with defence, the moment at 10.30am will see concurrent flag ceremonies, in addition to the one at the Padang, at seven other spots selected to stand for the key national sectors for Singapore during the disruption caused by Covid-19.
The Public Warning System will also be sounded to rally Singaporeans to take part in the moment from their homes.
The seven locations are: the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) representing healthcare; North Vista Secondary School representing education; Kampung Admiralty for housing and community; Changi Airport for transport; Lifelong Learning Institute@ Paya Lebar for employment and skills; the Enabling Village in Bukit Merah for social services; and NTUC FairPrice Hub@ Joo Koon for trade and industry.
Each location will hold its own National Day event attended by the sector's respective Ministers,unlike in previous years when top government officials were gathered at the main parade.
This year,while President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen and Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam will be seated at the steps of the National Gallery overlooking the parade, newly minted Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung will be at Changi Airport, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee at Kampung Admiralty, and Minister for Education Lawrence Wong at North Vista Secondary School.
Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo will be at the Lifelong Learning Institute@ Paya Lebar, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli at the Enabling Village, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong at NCID, and Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing at NTUC FairPrice Hub@ Joo Koon.
Around 40 representatives of each sector,such as teachers for education, will also be invited to each location in a show of appreciation for their efforts in recent months.
Colonel Cai Dexian, chairman of the home celebrations and engagement committee of the NDP organising committee, said the National Anthem was chosen as one of the key moments of this year's transformed celebrations as it is a "musical expression of Singapore's collective ambition and hope".
He invited Singaporeans to tune in to the live broadcast from their homes and record themselves participating in the anthem moment at 10.30am.
"Locations are really just places without people bringing them to life," said Col Cai, 36, adding that videos of people singing the anthem can be sent in to this form for a chance to be featured in the NDP evening broadcast.
The NDP organising committee is also working with public agencies and major companies to organise other ceremonies at locations such as military camps, transport depots and overseas embassies.
To prepare for his big moment raising the flag at the Padang come Aug 9, Third Sergeant Lim said he has been listening to the national anthem in his free time and practising raising the flag to the tune three times a week.
"I am proud and honoured but nervous as the moment will be broadcast.
"I cannot look up at the flag so it will take precise movements to pace myself.
"To calm myself, I will talk to friends before the events and take deep breaths so that we can psych each other up," he said.