Saturday, July 23, 2011

National Day Parade 2011 3rd National Education Show: Ready for action on 9 August 2011

Take Post! Gunners from the 23rd Battalion, Singapore Artillery, man their guns as the self-propelled raft made up of M3G amphibious vehicles from the 35th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers, powers its way towards the NDP show venue in Marina Bay. As is self-evident, the toughest part about this assignment is the lack of shelter from rain/sun and no toilet breaks.

Today's National Day Parade (NDP) rehearsal is special because it pushed the number of people who have watched the musical scripted for Singapore's 46th birthday past the 100,000 mark.

With the successful close of the 3rd National Education show (NE3, also known as Combined Rehearsal 6), the NDP 2011 participants and Executive Committee (EXCO) are about as ready as they can be for National Day on 9 August 2011.

Coming close on the heels of 2010's massive parade at the Padang, the NDP 2011 EXCO led by the Singapore Combat Engineers had a tough act to follow.

But they pressed on and have delivered a delightful NDP show plan that is part parade, part theatre musical and all good fun.

Not content with confining the action to The Float at Marina Bay, which is the site of the event's floating stage, show organisers have used Singapore's new skyline at Marina Bay as the backdrop for a light, sound and theatrical spectacular, the likes of which Singaporeans have never seen before. Clever.

There are the over-sized props that trace Singapore's history in song and dance items, the laser show that highlights Singapore's tallest skyscrapers in bright green light visible for miles and of course the fireworks that drew such a crowd tonight that city-bound traffic was backed up along Nicoll Highway all the way to Merdeka Bridge minutes before the main fireworks barrage was released at 8pm.

But what makes NDP 2011 special are the people who make the parade happen. You will see many of them give their all when you tune in to the NDP 2011 telecast come 9 August.

This main cast is supported by hundreds more working quietly behind the scenes to ensure the show hums along without a hitch. Many of them toil so far away from show centre that parade spectators will never get to see them.

Scores of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel have been detailed to usher, manage and look after student performers and participants from uniformed groups. They make sure headcounts are accurate and water/meals delivered on time. But they will never step foot on the NDP stage during showtime.

Then there's the SJQ gang, faithfully ring fencing NDP 2011 against nasty CBRE hazards, rain or shine.

NDP is sometimes panned by critics as a showpiece for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to display new capabilities. One cannot argue against this point of view. But there are unscripted moments when the SAF's capabilities and track record in demanding operations are there for all to see, if you know what you are looking for.

Top honour: I have waited 15 years to get this picture and I consider this image the most precious of all the pictures I took at CR6/NE3 today. This was the first time I was allowed close enough to the Colours to photograph the streamer won by 525 and it produced that lump in the throat moment. Someday, I hope I can write the Timika story. To those who know, the streamer was hard won and I have the highest respect for 525 and those who earned it. Well done.

Unit commendations held aloft as embroided streamers on the Colours of certain SAF units tell of past operations that underscore why the city-state's defence force is a quiet keeper of the peace.

Today, Team NDP went through their routine for the sixth full dress rehearsal. They called it CR6, but labelling it a combined rehearsal is somewhat a misnomer as even professional artistes seldom want to rehearse in front of a real audience.

But NDP 2011 did.

Young and old, professional performers or part-time amateurs, they gave their all. And what a show it was.

Acknowledgements: A word of thanks to the NDP 2011 EXCO for... everything. And to the tireless liaison officers Edward Wee, Ong Jun Wei, Collin Cheong, Li-Ann and Yan Han for putting up with all my nonsense, walking here/walking there from Float to F1 Pit Building up and down umpteen times like I have never seen the CR before. And to the Milnuts for the company during the past CRs.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's this?

I used Google and a careful selection of key words to look for them:

Hopefully one day we'll know the deed.


David Boey said...

Hi Eric,
Yup, you found some of the oblique references.