11 August 2011


National Day in Singapore is big. Really big. Streets are covered in flags, billboards and banners. Military planes fly overhead to practice their routines for the show. Two months before the event, those cast in the production begin rehearsals at the venue. There hasn’t been anything this big to hit Singapore since last year’s National Day.

Before we moved, Paul and I learned about how Singapore was once a part of Britain. For two years in the 1960s, Singapore was a part of Malaysia, but Malaysia ended up giving Singapore the boot. On August 9, 1965, Singapore established itself as an independent nation. And that is your mini history lesson.

The citizens of Singapore are extremely proud of the country’s accomplishments and its ranking as one of the leading world economies – and they should be. This is a great place to live.

A fan of holidays and celebrations, I read that the annual independence day celebration was not to be missed. I was completely disappointed when I found out that we needed to have tickets to the main event two days after all of the tickets were distributed. I read on a local message board that some expats have been trying to get tickets for years. Bummer.

Luckily, through the power of television, we were able to have a great view of the ceremony without enduring the crowds or the heat.

I had been looking forward to this celebration since we had a possibility of moving to Singapore. I love big shows and fireworks and seeing everyone have so much pride for their nation. I know I am not a citizen but I consider myself a Singaporean (I have an ID card after all) and am proud for all that this country is doing.

And, with as much pride as I and every other natural-born citizen have for this country, I wish to God that they were better entertainers. This year’s show was one of the worst I have ever seen anywhere.

The “parade” was a terrible portrayal of a video game turned child’s fantasy on the big screen. Emergency vehicles and military vehicles and weapons were on display as this kid played chief of all emergency forces. The fighting and shooting were as fake as a theme park show.

The actual event I had described to others as something similar to the Olympics Opening Ceremonies was also a major let down. Cheesy acting, mediocre singing and the worst crime in showmanship – lip syncing – were only a few of the horrors we endured while watching. There were floats of items that represented countries that have influenced Singapore’s cultures and population. India’s elephant was quite beautiful, but the bamboo steamers that stood for China and the typewriter representing Britain were nuts.

My friend described the evening’s festivities as, “a three-hour televised show…that was equal parts cheesy broadway musical, extravagant military display, fake terrorist attack, drag show, history lesson, relay race and not-so-subtle pro-reproduction messaging,” as everything in Singapore is.

We did not end up watching the show in its entirety because it was so terrible. I had not experienced that much sarcasm and yelling at the TV since a Friday night with the Gilmore Girls. That part was actually quite fun, but I do not foresee myself having a ticket to any show in the future. Maybe I will make dinner reservations at a restaurant on the water so we can still have a view of the fireworks when it is all over.

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