Archive for August 8th, 2007

Reminiscing our Past National Day Parade

This year 2007, Singapore celebrates its 42nd Birthday as Singapore gained Independence from Malaysia on 9 August 1965. So is this our 42nd National Day Parade? No, it’s our 41st National Day Parade.

We had our 1st National Day Parade in 1966 at the Padang. The first National Day Parade started at 9am in the morning. There were no such thing as tickets issued for the National Day Parade so if you wish to view the parade, you may have to be there as early as 7am.Our President then was Mr. Yusof Bin Ishak – yes the face you see on our currency note.

Below shows our 1st National Day Parade at the Padang in 1966 and the third one shows the NDP in 1967;

Above 3 Photo Credits : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

Note : Did you see our late President Mr. Yusof in any of the 3 photos and what was he wearing then? Clue

For the next 8 years, our National Day Parade was held at the Padang until 1974 (inclusive). During the earlier years, NDP was very much simple and not so glamorous as now – maybe I should said more solemn and serious then.

For example, our first National Day activities include an official cocktail party at the Istana Negara, a special variety show staged at the National Theatre and a spectacular fireworks display at Fort Canning in the evening, besides the formal parade at the Padang in the morning.

For those who watched the parade on TV, it was then still in “Black and White” – without colour. Maybe I’m sadist, but I love to watch the soldier dropping down (fainted) while standing still on the parade;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

Later on in the years, improvement in the NDP were made where soldiers no longer need to stand still there and wait for hours.

In1969, we started to have our first mobile column during the National Day Parade. I was so fascinated by it. The 18 AMX-13 tanks rumbled down the St. Andrew Road at the 4th NDP (1969).

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

I could felt the floor vibrating even before their arrival. In the past, though the National Day Parade were held at the Padang, the troops were then marched right to the heartland location. Below shows one in 1968 parade;

After those tanks or heavy armor vehicles driven on the roads during the parade, the road need to be resurfaced again. Probably because of these, the mobile column display was stopped ater 1970. It made a comeback in 1990 and then maybe once every 5 years.

We had our first Decentralised National Day Parade in 1975 and the last one in 1983. The parade alternated between Decentralised and Centralised at either Padang or National Stadium. It was probably to mark the 10th years of Independence and to reach out to a wider audience. 13 locations were selected then. Some of the locations of Decentralised parade in 1975 were Toa Payoh, Redhill, Haig Road and Queenstown.

1976 – the National Day Parade was held at the National Stadium for the very first time. It was the natural choice to stage the nation’s biggest celebration. In fact, the utilization of the National Stadium was so successful, since then, three out of every four National Day parades has been held there. The Padang, being the historic site of the first National Day Parade, now stages the parade once every four years.

Below shows the first Decentralised parade at Toa Payoh in 1975;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore.

The National Day Parade was first held at the National Stadium in 1976. The National Stadium was opened in 1973. Tickets to the parade were also issued to the public for the first time as previously admission were by invitation only. Altogether the National Day Parade was held at the National Stadium for a total of 18 times and the last one was in 2006 – the final one before it demolished.

Some of my favourites in National Day Parade were;

Precision Drill by the Military Police first started in 1986 at the National Stadium.

Photo Credit : Singapore Idler in 2006 NDP Precision Drill.

The Fly Past of our fighter planes and the parachuting display by our commandos were great too. I hate the mass display and I think it’s rather boring.

In 1986, the Flashcard display were first used and I love it.

1986 was also the year where “Count On Me, Singapore” NDP Theme Song was introduced. Everyone likes this song as the “count one me” section sound like “count money”….

1986 was also the first time the National Day parade was held in the evening. Since then except 1989 and 1990, every NDP was held in the evening.

I remember in one of the NDP (but don’t remember which year), all the religious leaders were gathered and blessed Singapore before the start of the parade, do you remember? That must be a special year…

Frankly I prefer the simple but solemn parade of the past at the Padang than the much “commercialised” type of glamor parade nowadays – but this is my personal opinion. Too many road closed for the rehearsal and preview and think the cost of such events are also too excessive.

All our past NDP were held on solid ground but this year 2007, it is the first time to be held on water at the Marina Bay Front! Seen the making of it on tv.

The Making Of National Day Parade 07 ;

Wishing our country a Happy Birthday!


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August 2007