Singapore National Day was August 9, last Wednesday. Singapore comes to life on National Day, as it remembers its rise to independence just 52 years ago. It was 52 years ago that then PM Lee Kuan Yew began transforming this little island from a small city to a global financial hub. Seriously—Singapore’s history is fascinating and should be/probably is a case study for some kind of economic development class. Singapore’s rise to success happened primarily through Lee Kuan Yew’s resolve to make the island multiracial, his fostering of a culture of self-reliance, and a powerful and trusting relationship between the government and its people. Singapore may have its flaws (no Shake Shack), but it’s undeniably incredible how it has improved the living standards of its people faster and more comprehensively than any other society in the world. 52 years, people!
It was sobering (but not entirely surprising, see above) to see the level of patriotism on the island that day, especially when I remember that Independence Day on July 4 is a day when we come to life as a nation to drink on pool floats while wearing bandanas and eagle t-shirts (to clarify, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is more than right).
It was a midweek holiday, so many people took the opportunity to take a long weekend and travel. But seeing as most of my leave days are spent visiting a family and a beau in far away places, I took the chance to spend the day relaxing, yoga-ing, and catching up on small items like cleaning and reading.
Around 7PM I headed down to the harbor with some friends, to the steps at the National Gallery. The streets were thick with people painted up in red and white, waving tiny Singapore flags. As the sun went down, the sky lit up with 300 unmanned drones dancing in unison to form different shapes and colors that represent Singapore: hands shaking, a heart, etc. Not only was it the first drone show in the parade’s history, but it was also the largest such display to date in Southeast Asia. Pretty badass. (Side note: the drones were developed and manufactured by Intel in the US. #America)
My iPhone photos did not turn out great, so here’s a photo I found on Google Images taken by someone with more photography chops than I:
The fireworks, to be honest, were not all that impressive, lasting only 4.5 minutes. But it was cool to be a part of the energy and excitement near the harbor, and witness a national celebration as a resident of another country.
I have to call out two events that happened over the course of National Day, for their absolute hilarity and pure strangeness. First, the funny. During the parade, students from schools across Singapore march in their school uniforms, jubilated to have been chosen as a school to represent Singapore in such a high-profile event. Well one ten-year-old kid (gangsta) decided to flip the bird straight at the camera on live TV while marching. I didn’t not laugh for an unmentionable amount of time after seeing the footage, but the government, school and family of the boy were all obviously and rightfully upset. Apparently he’s been given “counselling” and is very apologetic for his actions. But I still give him the Thug Life Award of 2017.
The other funny, yet head scratching, event that took place was something I saw while viewing the day’s events on the official National Day website. Along with a free concert at Marina Bay and an aerial fly-past performed by the Singapore Air Force, residents could also enjoy a free staged terrorist attack:
This is a real thing that happened and something I can only assume it is intended for audiences ages NO ONE EVER.
So overall, it was a very lively and fun National Day (except for the fake terror attack, which I have several follow-up questions on). I am incredibly grateful to live in a place that has prioritized diversity above all, particularly in the wake of the Charlottesville events this past weekend. Not going to start a rant here, but I hope that everyone I know can be a part of making things right back home in the States so that we too can celebrate a tolerant and more openly diverse America.