The Little Red Dot – National Day in Singapore

[Millie] Singapore is often referred to as The Little Red Dot – as on a map this is how it is sometimes seen because it is so small compared to other countries. Singapore is only 50km from east to west and 27km from north to south – a population of 5,854,932 makes it a busy place.

Singapore was first known as a sea town with early settlements dating around 1298-1299AD. The island earned a new name in the 14th century when a Prince was on a hunting expedition and saw an animal he had never seen before. I love to think of the prince trekking through the jungle seeing everything for the first time, the towering trees with leaves as big as he was, hearing the high pitched noises of cicadas and bird calls, the feeling of setting his eyes on an unknown animal. He named the city Singapura – the lion city – from Sanskrit words ‘simha’ (lion) and ‘pure’ (city). Singapore has a national symbol of a Merlion – half fin to represent the fishing village beginnings and a lion head for the animal he saw.

2016 – Merlion

Singapore went on to be a huge trading post thanks to a Sir Stamford Raffles and his forward thinking to see the potential of the country. This brought in many migrants who came to find work and a mix of languages and cultures. Singapore suffered in World War 2 when the Japanese attacked on 8th December 1942 and despite a large army they ended up surrendering to the Japanese because they had attacked from a different point to where the British military were expecting.

The Japanese occupation lasted for three years until in 1945 the Japanese surrendered and the country was handed to the British military. In 1946 Singapore was declared a British Crown Colony. The country continued to expand and develop and in 1959 Lee Kuan Yew became the first prime minister of Singapore. During his time he made ties with Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak which ended the British Rule. The move was meant to support Singapore as it was a country with very little natural resources itself with it being a rainforest. Just shy of two years political and racial tensions between the countries developed and peaked. On the 9th of August 1965 Singapore left Malaysia to become an independent country.

Each year National Day is celebrated island wide on the 9th of August – Singapore’s birthday! This year the country celebrated 55 years of independence.

Happy National Day!

In previous years the celebrations have seen people meeting in groups to see shows and concerts, have parties on the beach, watch fireworks and come together with family and friends. 2020 has been a year like no other – I don’t think any one could have had the foresight to imagine something like coronavirus happening and it being so world wide. It’s taken over our days and thoughts for quite a while now and one day we’ll look back on it all – it will be woven into the history that children learn at school. A moment in time that separated us from so much – but also brought so many together, albeit from a distance.

National day was no exception but in true Singapore style the celebrations went ahead and showed a might of determination, heartfelt thanks to all the front line workers here and a promise of a better future and learning from this time to continue to make Singapore a united place. Each year the prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, gives a speech. His speech was full of hope and determination, calling for unity to get through these challenging times.

The celebrations were online to watch and with social distancing regulations we were allowed 5 people in our home to enjoy the moments together. The morning kicked off with the morning parade called The Strength of Our Nation along with a Presidential gun salute. This really shows Singapores army and military strength. It started at the Padang which was where the first National Day was held. Air, sea and land all came together to celebrate Singapores achievements this year and to thank the front line workers.

We heard the fighter jets before we saw them! An aerial fly by from the military could be seen around the island and huge helicopters flying the Singapore flag toured overhead, we managed to see the huge helicopters from our balcony and could hear many more around our condo. Just three weeks before whilst serving our Stay Home Notice we kept hearing the roar of the Red Lion jets fly over the hotel and would rush to the window with faces pressed against the glass to see their rehearsal in the sky. On land the Mobile Military Unit drove past many locations – we managed to catch them as they drove past our road. We waited eagerly for the traffic to slow and several police bikes came past with sirens and horns waving to the bystanders – our children were waving flags and smiling at them all. Then came the roar of the tanks – a couple with huge missiles loaded onto the back – fire engines, ambulances and trucks. This year some of the front line workers got to ride in the back of the trucks and be celebrated together which was a lovely touch and another sign of gratitude and unity. There was a Maritime sail past in the sea – a chance for the navy to stand and pay tribute. There were several parachute drops over the island too. Collectively a touching thank you and tribute to all those who serve the country of Singapore in the past and today.

Throughout the afternoon we watched the stories of local people sharing their experiences through the Circuit Breaker (lockdown) of how they coped, pulled together and got through it. Some shared stories through tears – those who having had lost loved ones, felt isolated and lost, struggled with a business and many more and then shared of how the communities around them rallied together. Sharing food and meals, linking up with others through social media and online groups. An elderly gentleman shared a story of how he learnt to use Zoom calls to connect with others and he then became a facilitator of other meetings and bringing people together. He shared how important it is for people of an older generation to move forward and learn how to use technology so they don’t get left behind. We spent our lockdown months in the UK and felt very fortunate we had our home, constant income throughout, a garden and could do online shopping – I’m aware this experience is far from what many others have had to go through and we still had tough days. Singapore is currently in a Phase 2 where many places are running again and life appears to be heading back to normal, with low covid cases in the community, but that’s another blog post to come!

The evening ended with songs and performances before a firework display. We couldn’t see any from where we were but we could watch them on the tv and hear them live! Residents were given a little red sticker to put over their phone torch and were encouraged to wave them from the balcony. Our children excitedly borrowed our phones and were waving them and cheering from our balcony and it was great to see many others in our condo block doing the same.

“We have dreams to realise, and goals to reach for. Let us show the world that whatever the challenges, Singaporeans will stay united, and prevail once more.” PM Lee Hsien Loong

I am a UK citizen I’m not a Singaporean. I’m living here as a dependant on my husband’s Employment Pass, but none the less the message of being united and all playing our part ring true. I have dreams I want to fulfil here – for myself and as a family and I’m very much looking forward to a time when ‘normal’ life can resume, a life with out restrictions on family and friends and where we can go. Until that time it’s vital we all play our part.

Check out our vlog on YouTube to see the Mobile Army drive past and a nature reserve we visited.

One thought on “The Little Red Dot – National Day in Singapore

  1. So much information. How great to find out about the country you’re living in. Singapore sounds like a great place to be. I’m so proud of you for making the brave move to live and experience your life.
    Mummy B x

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