President thanks NDP participants for display of S'pore spirit

Tighter Covid-19 restrictions posed challenges for participants of the National Day Parade (NDP) last Saturday, but President Halimah Yacob noted that many Singaporeans were touched by the show.

She also expressed hope that the parade inspired confidence among Singaporeans for the road ahead as the Republic continues building resilience in the face of Covid-19.

Madam Halimah spoke virtually on Wednesday (Aug 25) with NDP participants, who included artists from SG Enable's partners and performers from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds).

"We have seen Singaporeans display collective resilience, grit and unity even during such challenging times. This is a demonstration of our Singapore spirit, which we ought to celebrate and be proud of," she said.

SG Enable's partners include organisations like the Down Syndrome Association and special education social service agency APSN. Its artists created artworks that were printed on the foldable fans and stickers in this year's National Day Parade pack.

Madam Halimah said she was heartened to see the different communities, including taiko drummers from Minds who performed at the parade, included in the celebrations. "We don't just look at disabilities, we look at abilities. They are extremely talented," she added.

Madam Halimah also praised the Singapore spirit of three Singaporeans - Madam Daisy Vaithilingam, Mr Zubir Said and Madam Tan Geok Hak - who overcame adversity to build a better life for their families and community. She said: "The taiko drummers from Minds playing to the beat of the song Semoga Bahagia was a fitting tribute to the legacy of these three pioneers, and their can-do spirit."

The late Madam Vaithilingam is one of Minds' founders, while the late Mr Zubir is the composer of Semoga Bahagia and Singapore's National Anthem. The two, along with Madam Tan, a survivor of the 1961 Bukit Ho Swee fire, were featured in an animated film shown at the parade.

Singaporeans who were featured in the short films screened during the parade also had the opportunity to speak to the President, who praised their efforts and inspiring contributions to the community.

They included two of Kampung Kakis' co-founders, Ms Mae Tan and Ms Denise Tay. Their platform is a buddy system that pairs needy individuals such as seniors with a volunteer living near them.

Also featured was Ms Latha Govindasamy, one of the people behind Krsna's Free Meals, a soup kitchen that provides food to migrant workers and the underprivileged.

Said Madam Halimah: "Every year, National Day serves as an anchor for us to reflect on what it means to be a Singaporean. It is a time when we celebrate our independence as a country, re-dedicate our commitment to the nation and stand together as a society.

"Covid-19 may have derailed some of our plans this year, but I am glad that everyone stayed the course and persevered. Let us continue to stay strong and united as one people, strengthen our bonds and celebrate our diversity."

This article was edited for clarity.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2021, with the headline President thanks NDP participants for display of S'pore spirit. Subscribe