On the ground

There's no better place to create NDP memories than on the parade ground itself.


• Businessman

• NDP 2009: Soldier in the 21st Battalion Singapore Artillery

Shooting pains

I remember the moment our commander informed us that we were going to be part of the Presidential Gun Salute. It was the first time the 21-gun salute would be held on the water, in front of the Merlion and Fullerton Hotel. Five months before the parade, we would kneel on the hard ground for 40 minutes every day to practise. I always knew that I would one day kneel to ask my future girlfriend for her hand in marriage, but I never expected to kneel for my country! I experienced the worst pain I ever felt in my knees in the first week of practice. It gradually got better, or maybe I just became immune to the pain.



• Human resource officer

• NDP 1974: Participant in the Singapore Armed Forces women's contingent, which comprised women from the army, navy and air force

Guns, not handbags

We were in Temasek Green uniforms and heavy shoes that had horseshoe studs nailed on them. The training we went through was tough as the Regimental Sergeant Major did not see us as women but treated us equally as the men. Route march endurance, discipline and more were drilled into us. We carried submachine guns and were told to swing our arms out in sync, or else we would not look good on national television. Previously, handbags were carried instead of arms.

MS SANDIRAGANDI SHANMUGANATHAN, on marching in the 1974 parade.


• Officer Commanding of the supply and services company at Pasir Laba Camp

• NDP 1971: Radio sergeant of 3rd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment

Radio man stands tall

I participated as the radio sergeant of 3rd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, part of the mobile column for the 1971 National Day Parade. My job was to provide radio communications to the Battalion. In the photograph, I am standing on the Command Land Rover, at the junction of Jalan Sultan and Beach Road, which was used as a forming-up area for the mobile column. To the right of the Command Land Rover, you can see the 106mm recoilless guns mounted on the SAF jeeps. They have long been decommissioned and replaced by better weapons. It was a long wait before the cue from the Padang came and the whole column moved off. I tried my luck buying 4-D with the numbers 3409 for a few years but never won anything.



• Retiree

• NDP 1988 to 1994: Scoreboard operator when the parades used to be held at the old National Stadium.

Majulah, not Mari Kita

When the National Day Parade was moved from the Padang to the National Stadium, the scoreboard was in use. I was the operator. Our involvement would start in the month of the first rehearsal and end on Aug 9. I was the only person on duty and I was in charge of letting the spectators know what was going on in the parade, such as the arrival of the President, and the titles of dance items by the different organisations. I had the best view, on the highest floor of the old National Stadium, above the west entrance. Because I was in charge of inputting the data to the scoreboard, I also learnt in my first year that our national anthem was Majulah Singapura. Many of us thought that it was Mari Kita.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'On the ground'. Print Edition | Subscribe