So, the celebration has finished, the concert has ended and tomorrow is a new working day, when everyone will come back to their own business amidst a pandemic that is still wreaking havoc everywhere and an economy that is still in shambles. However, it’s very encouraging to witness people’s courage and mental strength, and to have the opportunity to set aside all our worries for a few days to celebrate the birth of our nation, to be united in one cause and to recognize the efforts and even sacrifices of so many people to keep the country moving and to protect lives while finding a safe way to get to a new normal. It was a special, unprecedented National Day celebration, where many usual activities could not take place to ensure people’s safety, but it was also a very special celebration where we reflect and realize how far we have come, how much progress we have made, and then look forward and start planning for what we would like to see in a near future.
Even though the celebration was smaller this year, I felt a stronger sense of attachment to the programs lined up then in previous years. It was the first time my whole family took part in the National Day Observance ceremony, since it was broadcast live on TV, and not as early in the morning as before. And then came the brilliant idea of bringing the celebrations to the heartland and close to the people. Now everyone became part of the celebration, just as everyone became part of the NDP when the fun packs were sent to each household instead of only available to the small group of NDP participants. The cost may be higher due to the duplicated events and the higher number of activities, but it is worth it, and the uplift in spirit and mentality brought about by this event, especially in this difficult period, cannot be calculated just on money term only.
Since the border is still tightly closed, Singapore tourism has come to a standstill, and the government is doing all they can to support the industry and keep it running, while encouraging locals to come out and spend some money, so that the businesses can have some cash flow. The same strategy was also adopted by other countries, but for Singapore, it may be less effective due to the tiny domestic market and the weak demand due to concern of unemployment and therefore the urge to save rather than spend. So, to do our small part in helping to sustain the economy, we went to Sentosa, once the crown jewel of Singapore tourism and a must visit destination for all the tourists coming to Singapore. We have not been there for a long time, and we were quite surprised by the crowd over there. Although that meant a snaking queue and a long wait for us to enter the S.E.A Aquarium, it might be a good sign that the country was on the path of recovery. Or it might be due to the fact that the Adventure Cove was still shuttered. That I am not sure. But it was good to see that the inside of the aquarium was still well maintained and the marine animals there seemed to be doing quite well even after a few months of no visitor at all (the same could not be said of the Singapore Zoo, which really showed visible sign of a skeletal crew and reduced maintenance)
However, the same could not be said of the remaining part of the island itself. Outside the area belonging to Resorts World Sentosa was a starkly different scene. The attractions looked unattractive and the facilities showed little attention. Old attractions closed down without any sign of new ones springing up to take over their places. Even the grand Merlion, which was planned to be torn down for something new and exciting, was still standing tall, a sad reminder of the impact of Covid-19 on large scale projects and plans. Many BTO projects have been delayed, transport plans have been adjusted, and the plan for Changi Airport Terminal 5 may not even come into fruition at all. And who knows, faced with huge costs and an unpredictable future, Genting Corp may also shelve the plan to expand RWS. I wish they won’t, but I am also prepared for the worst. After all, Malaysia is also heavily affected by the pandemic, plus the unstable political climate at the moment.
So, we’re done with our small contribution to making Singapore great again. There was only one activity left to do in order to wrap up a long and exciting National Day celebration: Fireworks 🎆 You may argue that it’s an act of luxury on the government, especially when there are so many people out there who are struggling financially. Well, it may not make sense economically to shoot firecrackers to the sky, but it makes a lot of sense mentally. Again, it’s a sign of hope, and an assurance that everything will be okay. It’s extravagant, and it shows that the government is still capable of affording that, and we are not down to our last breath yet. Some more, it gives people joy and happiness, hope and confidence, and that is ever more important in times like this. It gives people something to talk about, and it shows that Singapore is still ok. We are still celebrating, and that really matters. That is something that NTUC vouchers cannot really buy (of course NTUC vouchers are also important, I never disagree with that, and I have nothing against it at all).
Happy Birthday Singapore! Let’s get through this together and we can have a bigger celebration next year. You’ve got it!