New citizens' show of pride

Mr Mak Hon Wah, who was originally from Hong Kong, has performed at all but one NDP since 2011.
Mr Mak Hon Wah, who was originally from Hong Kong, has performed at all but one NDP since 2011.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Production and maintenance supervisor Mak Hon Wah, who was born in Hong Kong and became a Singapore citizen 23 years ago, first took part in the National Day Parade in 2011 - after watching it on television with his only daughter.

"She asked if we could join the performances, so I checked with our grassroots leaders and learnt that two of them were involved," said Mr Mak, 58. "I told her to go ahead with the others but she said, 'No, you have to come with me.'"

He joined his daughter - now aged 20 - in a dance performance in 2011. Since then, Mr Mak has taken part in every NDP except in 2013 when his daughter pulled out because she was unwell.

"I'd never danced in my life before this. Now, taking part in the show every year has almost become a habit," said Mr Mak, who is dancing as part of the NDP show this year with other members of the People's Association.

He is among a numberof new citizens or second-generation Singaporeans performing at the NDP.

Other performers, such as accounts and administrative executive Lai Fui Phin, hope to spur more people to join in the festivities and celebrate their country's achievements. For the 40-year-old, who has worked in Singapore for around 12 years, National Day has taken on a new meaning since she became a citizen in 2015.

Ms Lai, who hails from Sarawak in Malaysia, used to commute from Johor Baru where she lived.

After falling victim to a late-night robbery in 2006, she decided to move across the Causeway and later became a Singaporean.

In 2014, she started volunteering with the Singapore Soka Association and took an interest in the NDP. She joined their performance team last year. This year, she is one of 560 Soka performers in the show.

"I feel especially happy taking part in the parade, and that Singapore has really become my home," she said.

"It's been a chance to make new friends and learn more about the different cultures among the group of performers."

Similarly, Mr Mak, who first set foot in Singapore during a stopover in 1979 as a marine engineer on a ship and moved here in 1992 after marrying a Singaporean, said he takes pride in being able to perform at the NDP. "Joining the parade is my way of wishing the nation well, celebrating the occasion in front of the entire nation," he added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 06, 2017, with the headline 'New citizens' show of pride'. Print Edition | Subscribe