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(From left) WO1 Nadya Binte Mohamed Zah from the SCDF, MAJ Muhammad Iskandar Dzulfadhli Bin Abdul Rahman from the RSAF, and DSP Gregory Kang from the Singapore Police Force are proud to be part of the ceremonial parade at The Float @ Marina Bay. Photos: NDP 2021 Executive Committee and Republic of Singapore Air Force

The Show Must Go On: 9 Aug Participants Like Them Are The Singapore Spirit Defined

You know the line from the NDP song "Count On Me, Singapore" that goes:

There's a spirit in the air, it's a feeling we all share.

That spirit is something that seems decidedly dampened and downtrodden of late, what with this now-endemic COVID-19 situation having consumed (and in some cases, wrecked) the last one and a half years of our lives.

We can't deny that many of us have been suffering from "pandemic burnout" - that feeling of sustained stress, hopelessness and frustration brought about by ever-changing scenarios and safety measures, exacerbated by the fact that COVID-19 is going to overstay its very unwelcome visit.

Still, we endure. Not just "tolerate", but also "persist". Not just because "no choice lor", but because we have got to. Not just for ourselves and our sanity, but also for the sake of our loved ones and friends in the community.

And we are held aloft by the very thing that makes us human: our human spirit - and, unique to this Little Red Dot, our Singapore Spirit. It boils down to strength (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), determination, and the fortitude to pick ourselves up, and make us pull up our socks and say "ok, can!"

Time and our nation's track record show that there is merit in keeping calm and carrying on. Incidentally, do you know how many times NDP has been cancelled since we gained our independence in 1965? That's right - zero.

There might be no rah-rah parade with fireworks on 9 Aug this year, but, as a celebration, symbol and reaffirmation of our unity in the face of adversity, the show must - and will - go on with a ceremonial parade that will take place at The Float @ Marina Bay.

Here, three of the participants who will be on site that day to lead us in a scaled-down but no less significant celebration, and to reinvigorate our Singapore Spirit - you know, that feeling we all share.

Photo: NDP 2021 Executive Committee

WO1 Nadya Binte Mohamed Zah

WO1 Nadya is quite the NDP veteran, having been involved in six previous NDPs as a HazMat (hazardous materials) Specialist as part of the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF's) operational standby forces.

"I volunteered to be part of the SCDF marching contingent this year because I wanted to have a different NDP experience as compared to my previous roles being on operational standby," says WO1 Nadya, who has fancied the parade and ceremony segment since young.

"At that point in time, I was staying quite close to the old National Stadium. We would watch the parade 'live' on television, and, at the same time, run to the corridor to see the fireworks and flag flypast. So I decided to do something different this year, just so that I could experience my childhood once again," says the 35-year-old who will be the only female participant in this year's SCDF marching contingent.

"I'm very honoured because I’ve been the given the opportunity to represent the SCDF for the upcoming NDP," she says. "As the only female representative of the SCDF, I hope this is just the beginning for more successful female officers to be part of the NDP when given the chance."

The show must go on: "It's significant to maintain 9 Aug as a day of celebration. To not have it on 9 Aug would just not feel the same!"

How do you define the Singapore Spirit? "It means to help someone by not saying you're helping them, and without them having to ask for help - it's part of the spirit of community."

Photo: Republic of Singapore Air Force

MAJ Muhammad Iskandar Dzulfadhli Bin Abdul Rahman

This will be the second time MAJ Iskandar of the Republic of Singapore Air Force will be taking to the skies during NDP. In 2015, as part of an SG50 flypast, he flew the F-5 and escorted the KC-135.

This year, he'll be piloting one of the F-15SGs that will perform a bomb burst as part of a salute to the nation. The jets will then perform an island flypast which will see them flying in a delta formation over our heartlands.

"[The delta formation] is symbolic because it represents how Singaporeans, with our collective strength, will and unity, aim to forge ahead amid the present challenge that we’re facing with COVID-19," says the 33-year-old, who appreciates every flight he makes and acknowledges the important role he plays as a guardian of our skies.

"It feels special, you know, when you fly over Singapore, especially in the initial parts of our rehearsals, when the sun is setting… knowing that we’re not just putting on a show. We are also demonstrating that we are together as one nation, and we are doing our part as part of the Air Force to ensure the safety and security of our country," he says adding that it’s even more special to fly as part of NDP, and that the rehearsals are "something that we look forward to every day".

The show must go on: "It is necessary, it is important, because it is really a symbol and tradition that brings us all together... to celebrate our successes and look back at how far we have come as one nation. NDP is a very significant annual event, a long held tradition that really serves as a reminder to us Singaporeans of our journey to nationhood."

How do you define the Singapore Spirit? "The Singapore Spirit is really a call to all Singaporeans to draw new strength from that can-do spirit amid challenging circumstances from COVID-19 and other potential disruptions. It is about reinvigorating that Singapore Spirit by encouraging Singaporeans to embrace a dare-to-try attitude, and to reinvent, to overturn any natural or geographical constraints we face."

Photo: NDP 2021 Executive Committee

DSP Gregory Kang

DSP Gregory from the Singapore Police Force continues a "family tradition" of sorts. His father was part of the Army marching contingent in 1980, while his brother was part of the show segment in NDP 2009.

"My parents as well as my brother are quite proud that I have had the chance to be nominated to represent the police force as the Guard of Honour contingent commander," says the 29-year-old.

"Short of sharing tips, because the roles we have played are quite different, what I have received from them is quite a lot of encouragement as well as kind words."

The show must go on: "Every year, we must have a National Day, because when we first started in 1965, a lot of things were quite uncertain. Every year, when the nation comes together to commemorate National Day, in whatever spirit, in whatever method, in whatever form, it is about the key message of coming together and looking forward to the future. Nation building is a very long process, there are a lot of ups and downs along the way. What’s important is to keep looking ahead. For all the men and women who will be at the parade on 9 Aug, it is a signalling of our nation’s resilience and ability to pull through crises. That’s why I think the NDP should continue and 9 Aug must be commemorated in a meaningful way to recognise the contributions of the past and hope for the future."

How do you define the Singapore Spirit? "Harmony. As a police officer and a public servant, I think what is really unique about Singapore is our ability to pull together despite being a very diverse melting pot of cultures. The Singapore spirit that has brought us through many years is really that sense of harmony, that sense of togetherness, living together, making sure that we accept each other and continue to be friends, be a family that stays together despite the challenges we face with all the things that are happening in the world."

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