Singapore National Day Parade
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The Singapore National Day Parade (Abbreviation: NDP, Malay: Perbarisan Hari Kebangsaan, simplified Chinese: 国庆庆典; traditional Chinese: 國慶慶典; pinyin: guóqìng qìngdiǎn, Tamil: தேசிய தின அணிவகுப்பு) is a national ceremony in Singapore that, as its name implies, includes a parade on Singapore's National Day on August 9, in commemoration of Singapore's independence that is usually held at the Float @Marina Bay, various decentralized venues all over Singapore, Padang and the National Stadium.
- 1 History
- 2 NDP editions
- 3 Logos
- 4 Parade sequence
- 5 Songs
- 6 NDP funpack
- 7 Organisation and sponsorship
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
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The first National Day Parade started in the morning at 9:00 a.m. that day. People came as early as 7:00 a.m. in order to get good vantage points. Singapore's first President, Mr Yusof bin Ishak and Singapore's first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, were seated with members of the government at the grandstand on the steps of City Hall. When the parade began, 6 military contingents (including the Singapore Infantry Regiment, SPDF and the then Republic of Singapore Police), a mobile column from the SIR, and various schools and civil contingents marched past City Hall and then into the city streets. Three military bands accompanied the parade inspection and later the march past with military music. The Singapore Fire Brigade also took part in this first parade with its firetrucks included in the mobile column. Rounding it all was a massed lion and dragon dance performance from drum and dragon troupes nationwide.
The following year, 1967, the contingents increased to 76, including those of the then established Singapore Armed Forces, the RSP and more cultural groups, with the addition of more civil marching groups. The reason is partly due to the introduction of the National Service program in the military and police forces, and later extended to the Fire Brigade, later called the Singapore Fire Services in the 1970s. Street performances by various groups also debuted in that year's parade. The 1968 edition, although held on a rainy morning that surprised even the marching contingents and the dignitaries, saw the first ground performances on the Padang as the weather improved - a prelude to today's show performances. 1969's parade, the one where the Mobile Column made its first drivepast, commemorated the 150th year of the city's founding and had Princess Alexandra of the UK as principal guest.
On the August 9, 1970 NDP edition, the Flypast of the State Flag and the Republic of Singapore Air Force Flypast debuted. A combat simulation performance by Singapore Army personnel was one of the new highlights for that year.
The 1971 NDP was the first to include the iconic mobile parade floats from various organizations. Choirs also debuted on that year's edition.
The 1973 parade was held from the afternoon to early evening for the first time to attract more attendance from the public. The next year, colour broadcasts of the parade on television began.
The 1975 parades, held to celebrate Singapore's 10th year, were for the first time decentralized into 13 parade venues for more public participation. Almost all of them lasted for an hour and all of them even had route marches on the streets to the participating venues.
By the time the NDP was held at the National Stadium (for the first time) in 1976, the NDP Guard of Honour, composed of officers and personnel of the SAF and the Singapore Police Force made its first appearance, followed after the parade proper by the very first evening presentations by various groups, a prelude to future evening NDPs in 1980 and from 1984 onward. 1977's parade was a decentralized event like two years before (and like 1968's was damped by the rain) while 1978 would see the parade back at the Padang grounds. 1979's parade was yet another decentralized one, held in several high schools and sports stadiums nationwide.
The 1980 parade, held at the National Stadium, almost rained at the start, but the performances went on as planned as the weather improved later. This was the first parade in which the feu de joie of the Guard-of-Honour contingents made its inaugural appearance. 1981's NDP was the very first parade appearance of the then SPF Civil Defense Command, presently the Singapore Civil Defense Force, later combined with the SFS in 1989. (The SCDF of today showed itself for the first time in the 1982 NDP held in the Padang.) They were held in two decentralised venues, Jurong and Queenstown Sports Stadiums for further increase public attendance and participation in the celebrations. 1982's parade, back at the Padang site, featured more contingents and for the first time the mobile column drove past after the marchpast had concluded, thus making it a predecessor to the parades at the Padang from 1995 onward (every 5 years).
1983 would be the final year that the NDP was held in multiple venues.
The 1984 NDP, now back at the Padang, celebrated Singapore's Silver Jubilee of self-governance and included a bigger Mobile Column, the first appearance of the popular Silent Precision Drill Squad from the Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command and the first true evening fireworks display (plus the debut of the very first NDP theme song) while NDP 1985 celebrated the nation's 20th year with more participants in the parade segment and in the show proper. The 1986 edition was the first true evening edition of the parade, and the first to use flashlights for audience use. 1987's parade, held at the Padang, was the first ever evening event held there and featured the first appearance of the massed military bands of the SAF. 1988 saw the card stunt feature being used for the first time during the National Stadium event and the 1989 edition, the first National Stadium daytime event, saw the debut of the nationally famous Red Lions parachute team and the daylight fireworks after 1966. The parade returned to the Padang in 1990 to honor the nation's silver jubilee year, which would turn out to be the last afternoon event ever to be held. In 1993, interactive participation by the public debuted in that year's edition to increase public participation and awareness of the parade as an important part of Singaporean life and as a symbol of national unity and identity.
In 1997, for the first time, there was a National Education Show, where Primary 5 students watch NDP rehearsals.
The government set up the electronic voting ticketing system in 2003 in order to tackle the problem of overcrowding. Such ticketing system enables citizens to stand a chance at winning the tickets by registering their e-mail addresses or mobile numbers at the NDP website or phonelines.
Starting 2008, the NDP is also aired all over the Asia-Pacific region through Channel NewsAsia.
2009's NDP was the first ever edition to have an integrated show including the parade segment.
2015's parade which was initially planned for the parade to be at the Padang, will be the first ever parade to be held both there and at the Float at Marina Bay, breaking a parade tradition in the process. NDP 2015 is the first NDP without the country's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who never missed a single National Day Parade since 1966, for whom he had died on 23 March 2015.
The parade of 2016 returned to the new National Stadium, while the 2017 parade was the first to be live streamed on YouTube in a 360 degree format, as well as via Facebook Live.
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The venue of the parade was once at the historical grounds of the Padang, where the declaration of Singapore's independence was held. Since the first parade in 1966, all the way to 1974, the venue was located in this central area to bring the parade closer to the people. In 1976, the parade was held for the first time at the Former National Stadium, where the much larger capacity allowed for more to view the parade live.
Although offering about 60,000 seats in the National Stadium, the demand for tickets remained high. Hence there were several attempts to decentralise the venue to bring the celebration closer to more Singaporeans. From 1975 to 1983, celebrations were alternated between a decentralised event and one centred at the Padang or stadium. From 1984, the parade was held twice at the stadium before being brought back to the Padang. This three-year cycle was repeated up to 1994.
From 1995, it was decided that the Padang would be used as the venue every five years. The Padang, although historically important, posed a greater logistical challenge and also offered fewer seats for spectators. The event and rehearsals also required the closing of surrounding roads. There was a need to construct temporary spectator stands around the field. The site however, was the only feasible venue for the mobile column, as the heavy vehicles could not be driven onto the stadium track. The Padang was used as the main performance venue for the 2005 parade, with fringe activities decentralised to Marina South, Jurong East, Yishun and Tampines.
Several alternate locations were mooted, including the utilisation of the Padang, which is physically bigger and less likely to disrupt daily functions in the city.
On 16 October 2005, it was announced that the 2006 NDP would be held at the old stadium for the last time before moving to The Float at Marina Bay. The 130 metre by 100 metre platform would be used for the next five years until the new stadium is completed. Although offering a seating capacity of only 27,000, which is less than National Stadium, there is a vast area for 150,000 extra spectators along the Marina Bay waterfront.
Since the 2000s (decade), every year's parade would revolve around a theme which would guide the planning of the parade and show.
After ten-year hiatus, the 2016 edition of NDP officially returned to the new National Stadium, and 2017 saw the parade returning to Marina Bay, therefore returning to a modified form of the 1980s parades. Given the huge public reception of the Marina Bay parades, The Float, soon to be renamed NS Square, will be expanded for future parades as a potential permanent parade venue, alternating with the Padang (every 5 years). For the first time ever a non-jubilee year NDP will be held at the Padang in 2019 while The Float is undergoing a state-funded renovation and expansion project, the celebrations there are for the grand biccentennial year since the foundation of the then town of Singapore in 1819.
|1976||National Stadium||2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1980||National Stadium||Courtesy – Our Way of Life|
|1981||Decentralised sites||Energy is Precious – Save It|
|1982||Padang||2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1984||Padang||25 Years of Nation Building, 1959–1984||Reach Out Singapore||3rd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1985||National Stadium||7th Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1986||Together...Excellence for Singapore||2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1987||Padang||3rd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1988||National Stadium||Excellence Together, Singapore Forever||Singapore Artillery|
|1989||2nd Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1990||Padang||One People, One Nation, One Singapore||25 Years of Nationhood and Another 25 Years of Achievements||HQ Armour|
|1991||National Stadium||My Singapore||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers|
|1992||Singapore Air Defense Artillery|
|1993||Padang||Nation on Parade||My Singapore, My Home||HQ Armour|
|1994||National Stadium||7th Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1995||Padang||30 Years of Nationhood / A Nation in Harmony||HQ Armour|
|1996||National Stadium||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers|
|1997||Our Singapore, Our Future||NDP 1997 Musical Extravanganza||Singapore Artillery|
|1998||Our Singapore, Our Future||7th Singapore Infantry Brigade|
|1999||Our People||Together We Make The Difference||6th Division|
|2001||National Stadium||Building Bridges, Forging Futures||9th Division/Infantry|
|2002||A Caring Nation||Together, A New Singapore||HQ Armour|
|2003||A Cohesive Society||HQ Singapore Guards|
|2004||A Progressive Society||6th Division|
|2005||Padang||40 Years of Nation Building||The Future is Ours to Make||3rd Division|
|2006||National Stadium||Our Global City, Our Home||HQ Singapore Guards|
|2007||Marina Bay Floating Platform||City of Possibilities||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers|
|2008||Celebrating the Singapore Spirit||HQ Singapore Guards|
|2009||Come Together – Reaching Out • Reaching Up||3rd Division|
|2010||Padang||Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag||HQ Armour|
|2011||Marina Bay Floating Platform||Majulah! The Singapore Spirit||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers|
|2012||Loving Singapore, Our Home||HQ Singapore Guards|
|2013||Many Stories… One Singapore||3rd Division|
|2014||Our People, Our Home||6th Division|
|2015||Padang||Majulah Singapura||Our Golden Jubilee||HQ Singapore Guards|
|2016||Sports Hub||Building Our Singapore of Tomorrow||HQ Armour|
|2017||Marina Bay Floating Platform||#OneNationTogether||HQ Singapore Combat Engineers|
|2018||We Are Singapore||3rd Division|
Beginning from 1998, a unique logo design was selected to represent NDP on all fronts. Even though there had been logos for some previous years' parades, these were only for years of special commemoration, such as 25th anniversary of Nation Building (1984) and the Silver Jubilee in 1990. For all other years' National Day celebrations, slogans have been used. An example of this is "Our Singapore, Our Future" that was first used in the 1997 celebrations.
With the introduction of an NDP logo for 1998, every NDP logo henceforth would be designed to suit the themes, in particular the foundation theme, of the parade. In addition, a tagline, which was previously known as a slogan, would be added to the logo design. For example, the tagline for NDP 2005 was "The Future is Ours to Make". These taglines are usually taken from previous National Day Rallies for the purpose of rallying the nation together on 9 August to meet the challenges ahead. The tagline "Together We Make The Difference" was introduced in 1999 due to the launch of the Singapore 21 project, and was replaced by "Together, A New Singapore" in 2002 when then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong proposed the "Remaking Singapore" initiative in the National Day Rally 2001.
In the logo of NDP 2007, Blue has taken over the traditional red to symbolise the water around the Marina Bay area.
However, it is important to note that the themes and taglines are largely different; and it is the theme that the parade or Show segment, on in some cases (2009 and 2015), both will be based on.
Although the programme and sequence of the parade do change over the years, several components and the overall flow of the parade have remained intact for the past 4 decades. With the shifting of venues for some editions of the parade, the programme may see slight modifications in order to suit the venue, for instance the Mobile Column, which is only possible both at the Padang site and at Marina Bay.
Stage and backdrop design
The pre-parade segment today may include mass-displays, choir performances, school band displays, sky-diving displays, and other light-hearted performances to entertain the crowd prior to the parade proper, with the added positive effect of encouraging parade-attendees to be seated earlier. Initially introduced on an ad-hoc basis as an informal filler, it has since became an integral part of the parade particularly when live television coverage was extended to this segment in recent years. As audience participation has become a part of the parade, the pre-parade segment also becomes an opportunity for the hosts to lead and rehearse with the audience actions they may have to do when the parade proper begins.
Motivators from TOUCH Community Services were introduced to the pre-parade in 2002 (then called Anchor Talents). TOUCH Community Services has since moved on to mentoring students from the various Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs) and various Polytechnics since 2003 until the present, under the Leadership & Mentoring programme. Colorful costumes and dance moves have been designed for the motivators.
Parade and ceremonies
The parade has been a traditional segment of the National Day Parade. Participants of the parade include members of the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force, representatives of the People's Action Party, different labour unions (including members of the National Trades Union Congress) and Ministries as well as students in uniformed groups (such as the National Cadet Corps, National Police Cadet Corps, National Civil Defence Cadet Corps, the Singapore Red Cross, the Boys' and Girls' Brigades, the Scouts Association, the Girl Guides and St. John Ambulance Brigade) and representatives of various Singapore business entities.
Participants are split into two main sections: the Guard-of-Honour contingents and the Supporting Contingents. The four Guard-of-Honour contingents are made up of members from the three arms of the Singapore Armed Forces (the Singapore Army, represented by the Best Combat Unit, for many years the 1st Commando Battalion of the Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation; the Republic of Singapore Navy; and the Republic of Singapore Air Force) as well as the Singapore Police Force. All members of these contingents are dressed in their respective ceremonial uniforms, known as the No. 1 uniform. Behind the Guard-of-Honour contingents stand the Regimental Colours Party, where the 32 SAF regimental colours are held by a group of officers, known as ensigns, from the Singapore Armed Forces, with their armed escorts (until 1997 Service Regimental Colors from the SAF's three services led the colours party). The 3 State Colours are in between the Navy and Air Force Guard-of-Honour contingents, and are formed by Escorts(Specialists) and Ensigns (Junior Officers). The parade's military bands are from both the SAF and SPF, and in recent years, the marching bands of both services' cadet organizations (the NCC Band and the NPCC Band) have joined them as well. Before the 1994 creation of the SAF Bands the different service arms of the SAF fielded their own bands, and the massed bands for the parade were, since the early 1970s, from a select band of the SAF and the Singapore Police Force Band (inter-service massed bands would only happen in 1987).
The parade traditionally starts with the Parade Regimental Sergeant Major (Parade RSM) forming up the parade on either the Padang, the field of the National Stadium or in front of the Marina Bay grandstand. The command of the parade is handed over to the Parade Commander once the parade has been formed up and properly dressed accordingly. Typically, both the Parade RSM and the Parade Commander come from the SAF, and usually hold a minimum rank of Master Warrant Officer, and Lieutenant Colonel respectively. Upon sizing and forming up the parade to full formation, the Parade Commander will wait for the arrival of the members of Parliament, members of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister of Singapore, in that order (the salutes were dropped partially in 2008, and the Prime Minister's salute was dropped the next year). Upon the arrival of each group, the parade will present its salute and present arms, except for the Parliament and Cabinet members, upon which they stand at attention and only the PC salutes them.
Lastly once the President of Singapore has arrived (after the playing of the Presidential Fanfare by the Fanfare Trumpeters of the SAF), the Parade Commander will call for a full (Presidential) salute, during which the National Anthem, Majulah Singapura, will be played accompanied by a fly-past of the State Flag, and from 2011, would also require raising it as well on a separate flagpole. After that (and the following aerial salute by the RSAF), the Parade Commander will request that the President inspects the parade. During this inspection, the President will be accompanied by the Chief of Defence Force and the Parade Commander, and the Army GOH Contingent Commander would later join them once they approach the Guard-of-Honour (recent parades have seen a motorized inspection by the President while riding a Land Rover). A presidential 21-gun salute is also given to the President during this time by a select battery from the Singapore Artillery. It is customary that the President speaks to some members of the Guard-of-honor contingents as he passes by. After the inspection ends, the President will return to the podium before the Guard-of-honor contingents presents a Feu-de-Joie led by the Parade Commander.
At the end of it (with the GOH contingents now at shoulder arms), the Parade Commander will ask the President for permission for the Parade Marchpast to start. 2012's edition formally included an Advance in Review order to the proceedings for the first time.
The Parade Commander will command the Parade contingents to prepare for the Marchpast, and will then march out of the Parade Grounds, with the bands bringing the rear. In the National Day Parade 2009, there was a City Marchpast where the contingents marched around the Central Business District, with the march ending at the F1 Pit Building. In the National Day Parade 2010, the City Marchpast made its second appearance and this time the Marina Bay area was the venue for this, with the Marina Padang as the final stop on the march past. 2011 saw the reinstatement of the march through the stands moment of the supporting contingents of the SAF, SPF and SCDF (previously done in the 2002 edition and now called the Onward March), and that year the participants of the youth uniformed groups and the civilian contingents marched out in a different way, only for all of them to reunite for the City Marchpast later on. The 2012 edition of the parade, the very first National Day Parade officiated by the President Tony Tan Keng Yam, had the Onward March which was now done for the second time by all of the youth uniformed groups present while the military and civilian supporting contingents marched out in a different way similar to the march pasts during the 2000 and 2010 editions with all of them rejoining for the City Marchpast to be done later with the GOH contingent battalion to Marina Bay Sands where the march ended. The Onward March made yet another appearance in the 2014 edition alongside the City Marchpast after the parade proper towards the MBS complex. The City Marchpast made its 6th consecutive appearance in the 2015 edition and was carried on in 2016 together with the Onward March from the new National Stadium and again from Marina Bay in 2017 and 2018.
In recent years the order of the march past of the supporting contingents out of the grounds has been altered, with the military and civil uniformed services first to march out, followed by the economic firms, social organizations and the youth uniformed organizations which march last out and then into the platform stands.
Mobile column, flypast and defence exposition
The first Mobile Column was organized in 1969 which displayed the then newly acquired armour vehicles of the SAF, the RSP's police vehicles and the SFB's fire trucks. In 1990, after an absence of 6 years (since 1984), the Mobile Column made a comeback as Singapore celebrated its 25th year of independence. Since then, it has been on show during the more important anniversaries of the nation's birthday, such as the 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 editions held at the Padang, and in the upcoming editions of 2019 and 2020.
Almost every NDP since 1971 (except 2016) has had a flypast segment featuring jet and training aircraft, transports and helicopters from the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
Whenever the NDP is held at The Float in Marina Bay the Mobile Column and flypast both evolve into the multi-platform and multi-service Dynamic Defence Display (D3), with a display of the military defence and public security capabilities of the uniformed services. In lieu of the 2018 D3, as part of the parade and ceremony segment of the program, a special flypast of the RSAF was held in that year's edition to mark its 50th anniversary.
The spectacular show segment follows the traditional parade and ceremony, and lasts normally for 45 minutes. Following the theme of the parade that year, the Show will feature (aside from a Prologue in recent editions) three to four main Acts that culminates in a Grand Finale, that will usually feature the theme song of that year's parade, followed by the much anticipated fireworks display. The entire parade will end in a chorus of voices singing familiar National Day Songs, mass pledge taking (from 2009 expanded into a national activity) and the singing of the National Anthem. In 2007, the parade broke tradition for having a fireworks display that synchronized with the Sing Singapore medley in the finale. In 2009, for the first time ever, all the segments of the NDP have been merged into one integrated program, this would be repeated in 2015.
It has its origins in early NDPs as various mass display items put up by community groups or schools to add colour to the otherwise military parade. These items revolved around the themes of racial harmony, ruggedness among youths etc., which are represented by ethnic dances and mass gymnastics displays. This section evolved over the years to become more theatrical, from the massive flashcard displays that complemented the parade in the 1980s to multimedia projections in recent Shows.
Float displays also featured prominently in the Show segments of the 1970s and 1980s where floats were designed to promote government campaigns or highlight the works of various public and private companies. This returned in NDP 1998 and in NDP 2005 as a visual representation of Singapore's past 40 years of nation building, with further reappearances at NDP 2009 and at NDP 2010 to symbolize the mixture of peoples that make up Singapore today. Floats would return in the 2015 and 2017 editions. Boats and floats on the Marina Bay area in view of the crowds were one of the highlights of the 2018 show segment.
Parades today, held from dusk to night, end in the climax of fireworks displays which have become a signature item of National Days. However, in the early parades that were held in the day (from 1965–72) and later afternoon to evening NDP editions from 1973 to 1980, 1982 and 1984, mass lion and dragon dance displays are actually the parade finale. Lion and dragon dance troupes from various community centres and clan associations would gather on the field to the resonating sound of drumbeats to put on a fiery display that end the parade on an auspicious note. These troupes later became integral parts of the 1985 and the 1988(evening) to 1989(daytime) NDP editions.
Though every show would see the participation of an assortment of public and private companies, there are three main anchors taking on each Act. They are the Peoples' Association (which involvement started in 1984, and one of the founding participants), the Singapore Soka Association (SSA) (also a founding participant) and the Ministry of Education, which would be represented by an individual institution or a cluster of schools. The latter also provides the Combined Schools Band and the Combined School Choirs, another regular part of the NDP itself, and since the 1970s has been part of the national celebrations. The Ministry also provides the School Display Band for the pre-parade segment of the programme, coming from one of the many schools in the island country pre-selected for the event. In addition, since 2016, volunteers from Team Nila are also involved as Precinct Ushers, Safety Management Aides and, most recently, as Pre-show Active Health Ambassadors.
Various types of high-tech multimedia equipment are used during the actual show segment, and they include:
In 2003, PIGI (Projecteur d’Images Géantes Informatisées) Projection technology was used, the same technology used for the 2000 Summer Olympics Opening/Closing Ceremony.
In 2004, the "Biggest LED Screen" in Singapore, measuring 31m x 7m, consisting of 23 separate panels in width and 7 panels in height was used. This setup is also one of the largest outdoor screens in the world. In this year, for the first time, public could send national day greetings via SMS/MMS that will be shown on this LED screen.
In 2005, "Panoramic Screen and Still Image Projectors" were used. The Panoramic Screen is made up of 26 individual screens each measuring 10m by 6m. Still Image Projectors were used to project the colourful images onto the screen. Also 2 large LED screen, each measuring 8m by 6m, will be used to screen numerous videos and ‘live’ feeds .
In 2006, same as 2003 is using PIGI (architectural video mapping) projection technology, at the centre of the stadium, a giant Light Emitting Diode (LED) screen is able to split into six smaller screens to provide a powerful visual impact.
In 2007, "water curtain" - 30 metres high and 90 metres wide, with visual effects provided by six image projectors.
In 2008, "LED Mash" - consisting of thousands of tiny LED lights which will form a gigantic video screen.
In 2009, PiGi projections and LED mesh screens, combined with special lighting effects will deliver multimedia content.
Post parade parties began in 1997 in a big way when it was televised on TV and featured top celebrity acts. The purposes of the post parade segment are to congratulate and acknowledge the hard work put in by the participants of the parade as well as to provide entertainment to the audience awaiting to leave the Stadium, Padang or Marina Bay.
The post parade celebrations will normally last for one hour and will end with the Chief of Defence Force, the Chairman of that year's NDP EXCO and the organizers cutting a cake to celebrate with the participants yet another successful National Day Parade, and speeches of gratitude to the participants for a job well done. The party is now normally anchored by the SAF Music and Drama Company.
National Day songs
Under the Sing Singapore Festival, which inaugurated in 1984, numerous community songs have been composed. Nonetheless, only few National Day songs which struck a chord among Singaporeans continue to be sung annually in the parade. They are collectively known as the Sing Singapore Medley which comes after the fireworks display during the Grand Finale segment, or since 2008, forming the final part of the display.
Other National Day songs continue to be featured during the parade, either in the Pre-Parade segment, Parade and Ceremony segment or used as tunes to accompany the mass displays during the show part of the celebrations. In particular, for the Parade and Ceremony segment, in between the arrivals of Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minister and the President, four songs each of one official language (English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil) will be performed. In previous years, the final song in English (before the President's arrival) has always been the NDP theme song (in 2007 this was not the case) while in NDP 2008, all the songs performed in the P&C segment (in between arrivals) were all previous NDP theme songs in recent years. (The song tradition would return in 2017, but only in the pre-parade portion and in a different language order, while past theme songs were played during the arrivals.) The music performed during the parades have evolved over the decades, reflecting not just the change of musical influences and styles, but also the country's multi-ethnic character.
The 2010 P&C songs were three in number, due to the fact that the arrival of the Parliament deputies happened before the parade, and were unique because all the songs sung were in English (one song even had lyrics in the 3 other major languages).
In 2011, there was the 'Fun Pack Song' which went along to the tune of Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance'. The song was later scrapped.
The 2013s Sing Singapore Medley saw a record number of NDP songs that features in this medley, with a total of 10 songs, "Stand Up For Singapore", "We Will Get There", "What Do You See", "One United People", "Turn Up The Love"(not include NDP songs), "Home", "One People, One Nation, One Singapore", "Count On Me Singapore", "We Are Singapore" and a reprise of that year theme song, "One Singapore" lasted for about 5 minutes and 30 seconds, the longest ever rendition to date.
In 2014, it was announced that there would be no new songs produced for National Day for the 2nd time in its long history, and in a historic move by the organizing committee, the classic NDP songs will be sung again. That year's edition saw past NDP theme songs being played during the arrival segments, and broke tradition by having the Sing Singapore Medley sung as the epilogue after the national anthem was played. The Sing Singapore Medley finale was repeated again in the 2015 event, after the Pledge Moment ends. Both cases have now included the 1998 theme song "Home" as part of the medley, just as it was the case in 2013.
2016 will see the medley also accompanied by special needs students provided by the seven Voluntary Welfare Organisations of the island country hand-signing for the deaf and hard of hearing who will take part, yet another first. The 1998 theme "Home" was sung as well. (Since 1989 a deaf reprentative has been present to sign the Pledge for deaf viewers of the event.)
NDP Theme songs were first introduced in the mid-1980s, starting with "Stand Up for Singapore", sung at the 1984 and 1985 Parades, and "Count on Me Singapore", performed by Clement Chow at the 1986 Parade. Other songs include "We are Singapore" (1987–1988) and "One People, One Nation, One Singapore" (1990).
Theme songs were not prominent in the parades of the 1990s until in 1997, when the song "Singapore Town", composed and sung by the SAF Music and Drama Company, was that year's theme song. Only in the 1998 edition did interest in the NDP theme songs rose again with the widely well-received piece "Home" composed by Dick Lee and sung by local celebrity Kit Chan and used for the National Day Parade that year, together with another NDP song, City For The World, sung by children. Due to its popularity, the song was used once again in 2004 when various renditions, including a rock piece by JJ Lin, were made. This is partly to use the platform of the televised national event to increase awareness to new National Day pieces composed for the Sing Singapore Festival held then.
In 2003, however, a significant split took place when the National Day theme song of that year was not the Sing Singapore theme song. Stefanie Sun's "One United People" was used as the NDP theme song to better suit the theme of "A Cohesive Society" while Sean Wang's "A Place In My Heart" was chosen to lead the Sing Singapore 2003 Festival.
Before 2007, the theme songs come in two languages, the lingua franca in Singapore – English as well as Mandarin. To promote the songs, music videos that showcase local landmarks and lifestyle are made and shown on national television a month before National Day; the songs will also be played on local airwaves. Legal MP3 downloads are also available on the NDP website from 2010 onwards.
Local songbirds that made it big in regional music scenes, such as Kaira Gong, Kit Chan, Stefanie Sun and Tanya Chua have been invited back home to perform various National Day theme songs. The winner of Singapore Idol 2004, Taufik Batisah, was the obvious choice to lead the nation in singing the NDP 2005's theme song "Reach Out for the Skies", alongside singer-actress Rui En.
For NDP 2007, there were two theme songs instead of the usual one theme song.
There were no Chinese versions of the English songs for NDP 2007 and from 2010 onwards.
In 2013, the National Day Parade theme song will not be sung by renowned local artists but by fellow Singaporeans that join the "Sing A Nation" contest organized by MediaCorp for this year's event, yet another NDP first. It, however, has drawn a lot of flak and criticism from the citizens of Singapore.
It would be in 2014 when the NDP will not have another official theme song in a break from tradition for the 2nd time, as a result of a decision made by the organizers. Instead, 3 songs were remade into two music videos: "We Will Get There" and "One People, One Nation, One Singapore" sung by Ann Hussein, Rahimah Rahim, Gayle Nerva, Farisha Ishak, Tay Kewei and Tabitha Nauser; and "What Do You See" sung by Fauzie Laily, Jack Ho, Kartik Kunasegaran, Sivadorai Sellakannu (Rai) and Shaun Jansen. Dick Lee's 1996 song, "Big Island", debuted during the show segment of the parade. The theme song tradition would return in the 2015 and 2016 parades.
The list of NDP theme songs are as follows:
|1984||"Stand Up for Singapore"|
|1986||"Count on Me Singapore"||Clement Chow|
|1987||"We are Singapore"||Jonathan Tan, Roslinda Baharudin, Anne Weerapass and Robert Fernando|
|1990||"One People, One Nation, One Singapore"|
|1991||"It's the Little Things"|
|1998||"Home"||Kit Chan||家||Kit Chan|
|"City for the World"|
|1999||"Together"||Evelyn Tan & Dreamz FM||心连心||Evelyn Tan & Dreamz FM|
|2000||"Shine on Me"||Jai Wahab||星月||Mavis Hee|
|2001||"Where I Belong"||Tanya Chua||属于||Tanya Chua|
|2002||"We Will Get There"||Stefanie Sun||一起走到||Stefanie Sun|
|2003||"One United People"||全心全意|
|2004||"Home"||Kit Chan and JJ Lin
The MTV versions were choral renditions performed by Young Voices, which comprises the Choirs from the Tanjong Katong Girls' School and Tampines Primary School.
|家||Kit Chan and JJ Lin|
|2005||"Reach Out for the Skies"||Taufik Batisah and Rui En||勇敢向前飞||Rui En|
|2006||"My Island Home"||Kaira Gong||幸福的图形||Kaira Gong|
|2007||"There's No Place I'd Rather Be"||Kit Chan|
|"Will You"||Janani Sridhar, Asha Edmund, Emma Yong, Lily Ann Rahmat, Jai Wahab, Shabir Mohammed, Sebastian Tan, Gani Karim|
|2008||"Shine for Singapore"||Hady Mirza||晴空万里||Joi Chua|
|2009||"What Do You See?"||Electrico||就在这里||Kelvin Tan|
|2010||"Song for Singapore"||Corrinne May|
|2011||"In a Heartbeat"||Sylvia Ratonel|
|2012||"Love At First Light"||Olivia Ong and Natanya Tan|
|2013||"One Singapore"||68-member choir "Sing A Nation"|
|2015||"Our Singapore"||JJ Lin/Dick Lee|
|2016||"Tomorrow's Here Today"||53A|
|2017||"Because it's Singapore"||Jay Lim|
|2018||"We Are Singapore"||Charlie Lim, Vanessa Fernandez, Aisyah Aziz, Shak'thiya Subramaniamm, THELIONCITYBOY, Joanna Dong, and ITE Show Choir|
Introduced in 1991, funpacks are bags containing goodies which are distributed every year. These goodies include food, drinks and vouchers from various participating companies and sponsors; items intended for the use during the parade, such as a theme-designed torchlight and the Singapore flag. Funpacks bags are designed by students from local polytechnics. An exception would be in 2015, where people from all walks of life designed 50 designs for the funpack.
Most of the years, NDP funpacks were packed by selected members of the armed forces. In 2009, they were packed by prisoners through the Yellow Ribbon Project. In 2015, there were additional items to celebrate 50 years of independence, including a Singa Lion Figurine and some nostalgic snacks and games. A similar funpack, the 'SG Funpack', was given out to every household.
Organisation and sponsorship
The National Day Parades are organised by the Singapore Armed Forces, with the involvement of a multitude of public and private organisations. Each year's parade will see the formation of an NDP EXCO (Executive Committee) which oversees various aspects of the parade, from the Parade & Ceremony to the Show, from SICUS (Seating, Invitation, Car parking, Ushering and Security) to Website & Publicity. The EXCO is formed by military personnel and is usually headed by the Commander of the organising division. Civilians also sit on the EXCO as representatives of the various public agencies involved.
Similarly, sponsorship comes from various public and private organisations to fund this multimillion-dollar production. This includes local organisations such as the Singapore Pools, Singapore Telecom, as well as multi national companies such as Volkswagen and Nokia. In recent years, sponsorship is divided into three categories depending on the amount of money pledged - Principal, Major and Co-sponsors/partners.
The unit that will be the organizer of the event starts preparatory activities in October, just 2 months after the previous parade, with the formation of the EXCO and pre-parade planning, plus the official sponsorship launch. In recent years there has been public participation, including in the choosing of the theme and the funpack design.
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