A March for the Nation

August 10, 2021

Despite the evolving pandemic situation, this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) brought together Singaporeans from all walks of life to celebrate Singapore’s 56th year of independence.


SCDF marching contingent at NDP 2021SCDF marching contingent at NDP 2021


In preparation for this year’s NDP, the marching contingents had started practicing their foot drills since 19 June this year at the Seletar Camp. Combined rehearsals for the ceremonial parade were subsequently held at the Marina Bay floating platform from 3 July.


Rescue 995 interviewed two officers from the SCDF marching contingent who shared their experiences and sentiments in being part of this year’s National Day celebration.


WO1 Nadya Binte Mohamed Zah


WO1 Nadya Binte Mohamed Zah is the only female SCDF officer in this year’s NDP marching contingent. She is a Hazardous Material (HazMat) Specialist from Tampines Fire Station, a para-counsellor and a Home Team Care Officer. Having been a member of The Life Saving Force for over nine years, WO1 Nadya had responded to many emergency calls — from HDB unit fire, warehouse fire, rescue operations, incidents involving hazardous materials to road traffic accidents.


Rescue 995: As a member of the marching contingent for this year’s NDP, share with us your personal experiences and challenges.


WO1 Nadya: Initially, it was rather overwhelming for me especially at the commencement of the rehearsals for this was my first time being involved in a marching contingent. We spent a considerable amount of time perfecting our foot drills. Besides, I was one of the older officers in the SCDF marching contingent and the only female marcher in the entire contingent. This was quite stressful but I took it in a positive stride and kept telling myself that I had to perform my very best at the NDP.


Rescue 995: As an SCDF officer, you had been involved in previous NDP. What was your role then?


WO1 Nadya: In previous years, in my capacity as a HazMat Specialist, I was part of SCDF’s onsite operational standby forces to provide emergency response at the NDP. It was a crucial role but one that was behind the scene. That was starkly different from my NDP involvement this year as a member of SCDF marching contingent, where I was at the heart of the NDP in full view of the public.


Rescue 995: I understand that this year’s NDP is meaningful to you personally. Why?


WO1 Nadya: This year we are celebrating Singapore’s 56th year of independence and personally, the number 56 is coincidentally my favourite number since young. Back in the early 90s, my siblings and I used to send each other numerical messages through our pagers. These were the days before the widespread usage of mobile phones. So, for easy self-identification on the pagers, my siblings and I would sign off our initials using numerical codes. My elder sister’s code was 55 while mine was 56.


Rescue 995: What is your favourite segment of the NDP?


WO1 Nadya: Since young, I always looked forward to watching the ceremonial parade segment of the NDP. This segment has always been one that holds a special and patriotic meaning for my family and I. As I used to reside near the old national stadium, I would run out of my HDB unit and stood by the corridor just to catch the awesome sight of our national flag flying pass and would also enjoy the fireworks during the finale of the celebration!


Rescue 995: For this year’s National Day, what is your message for Singapore?


WO1 Nadya: I would like to wish Singapore a happy 56th birthday and for us to stay strong and united.


CPT Lee En Hao


CPT Lee En Hao is the contingent commander in this year’s NDP marching contingent for SCDF. He is currently a staff officer at the Training and Professional Development Department (TPDD) and he has been a member of The Life Saving Force for close to five years. CPT Lee’s main role in TPDD involves planning and conducting emergency exercises for frontline officers to validate their operational plans and test their state of operational readiness.


Rescue 995: As the SCDF contingent commander in this year’s NDP, do you encounter any challenges.


CPT Lee: The obvious challenge when rehearsing for the NDP would be the weather. In the midst of the scorching sun and humid weather, we would be perspiring immensely while rehearsing in our foot drills from morning till evening. To deal with such a harsh weather condition, as the contingent commander, I had to look after the well-being of my contingent members and this included ensuring that everyone was well hydrated throughout the foot drills. As a contingent commander, I also had to control the pace at which my contingent was marching. And since I was marching in front with the rest of the contingent members behind me, I tend to ask myself if I was marching too fast. Nonetheless, I was glad that our trainers have prepared us well for the parade.


Another challenge would be in managing work during the rehearsals. For example, in the rare occasion when there was a certain task requiring my immediate attention, I would have to work upon it in between breaks during the practices. I am thankful to my supervisors who had been very supportive and understanding throughout my participation in the NDP rehearsals as I would rarely get bogged down with work commitments.


Rescue 995: How was this year’s NDP different from your previous NDP involvement?


CPT Lee: This is the second time in which I am involved in the NDP. In 2019, I was the reserve SCDF contingent commander. As a reserve contingent commander then, I went through the same intensity and frequency of trainings and rehearsals as the contingent commander. And of course, being part of the marching contingent this year was a proud moment for me.


Rescue 995: What is your favourite segment of the NDP?


CPT Lee: My favourite segment is the NDP flypast when our state flag flies pass the city’s skyline. To me, this is indeed a proud moment, reminding me on how much Singapore has developed over the years. This is especially so as in the past one and a half years, we have banded together to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.


Rescue 995: For this year’s NDP, what is your message for Singapore?


CPT Lee: We have come this far in our accomplishments and we are still standing strong in our fight against COVID-19 as individuals, as a community and as a nation. This National Day is a patriotic moment when we come together to show our solidarity, our support for one another and to celebrate our love for Singapore.