Singapore highlights multicultural heritage
Published: Aug 21, 2013 04:28 PM Updated: Aug 21, 2013 10:01 PM

National Day celebration is always a grand event for a country and its people. Every nation has its way of celebration.

On August 9, two Global Times reporters, together with other eight Chinese journalists, were invited to attend the 48th National Day Parade of the Republic of Singapore on the Float at Marina Bay with the lion city's new landmark buildings, Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands, in the background.

Singaporeans told us that since only about 20,000 tickets were available for the public to attend the event, a balloting system has been put in place to ensure that residents stood a fair chance of getting the tickets.

Singaporean citizens and permanent residents can apply for tickets via SMS, the official website or mobile application.

Prior to the parade, attendees were encouraged to wear clothes in red and white, the colors of the country's national flag. The venue turned out to be a red sea that afternoon and evening.

To our surprise, every attendee was given a fun pack, which could be easily converted from a backpack to a sling bag. Inside, there were food items such as bread, biscuits, potato chips and a bottle of potable recycled water produced by the PUB, Singapore's national water agency.

Other party necessities such as a miniature national flag, cap, fan, light stick, flute, clap banner, a disposable raincoat and even a refuse bag were also included.

We as foreign visitors really appreciated the considerate attention shown by the organizers.

"Many Stories, One Singapore" was the theme of this year's parade. Chinese, Malay and Indian performers presented to the audience multicultural performances, which paid tribute to Singapore's roots and heritage.

During the parade, there were two climaxes. The first came when Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew entered the venue and waved to the audience, followed by the present Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

I could feel the excitement and sincere respect from the crowds when the senior Lee turned up.

The second climax came when the Dynamic Defence Display (D3) made its return to the parade.

Through a counter-terrorism drill, the D3 showed to the public not only its hardware but also its "heartware" to protect its country and people.

The parade came to a resounding end with a grand show of fireworks lighting up the sky above the Singapore River.

Throughout the parade, there were no long speeches delivered by politicians. Instead, the stories of ordinary people were highlighted.

I was most impressed by the story of a criminal-turned-businessman.

The man found it so hard to find a job after he finished his jail term that he was determined to help those who had similar problems. In his own business, he hires plenty of former felons.

As Singapore enjoys a low crime rate, I was shocked to see that this group was spotlighted in the national day parade.

The attention paid to prisoners reassured me that this is a society that values humane principles.

Another detail I have to mention is that there was no classification for all the admission passes to the parade.

On the principle of "first come, first served," early birds are entitled to take the best seats in their designated area according to the different colors of their admission tickets.

No VIP seats were reserved. We happened to have good seats with a great view since we arrived quite early.

People-first is not an empty slogan, but a living reality manifested in minute details.

Although during our visit to this island state, we could still hear complaints from ordinary people about rising home prices, inadequate retirement savings and a widening rich-poor gap, it is not difficult to see that the Singapore government is trying to create an equal and open environment for the people.

The author is the managing editor of Global Times Metro Shanghai. fengyu@globaltimes.com.cn