As our nation turns 56 this year, we shine the spotlight on the exciting journeys of fellow Singaporeans chasing overseas dreams. Suzanne has been living in Hong Kong for more than 10 years, and given the proximity of the 2 cities, has always been close to home. However, with the pandemic in place, the National Day holidays took a turn. Find out how she remains close to home, even from miles away. She also has a special NDP song to encourage Singaporeans during this COVID-19 pandemic.
28 July 2021 / By Suzanne Lee
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, my family and I would fly back to Singapore at least twice a year, including the children’s summer holidays in July and August. National Day was typically spent with our family in Singapore by watching the National Day parade and the fireworks on television. Our two boys attended the Camp@Home programme in 2014 but unfortunately missed the National Day parade rehearsal. They finally had the special privilege of watching the National Day parade rehearsal at the Marina Bay Floating Platform in 2017 as part of the Singapore Holiday Immersion Programme organised by the Singapore International School in Hong Kong. They were especially thrilled with the flypast and the Red Lion parachute displays!
A song to unite Singaporeans
Last year was the first time that many Singaporean families including mine, had to spend the summer holidays in Hong Kong instead of Singapore, due to the pandemic. I was struck by the suffering brought about by the pandemic, so when the Singapore Consulate-General in Hong Kong organised the National Day 2020 competition, I took the opportunity to compose the song “Together” to lift the spirits and strengthen the bonds of all Singaporeans. I am honoured that my song “Together” was the winner in the “Performing Arts” category. The song “Together” demonstrates the Singapore spirit at work as it was a family effort! I wrote the lyrics, music and played the piano, my husband sang and my two boys compiled the music video. The inspiration to write the song came about as I wanted to instil confidence in all Singaporeans that we can rise above our difficult circumstances and that when Singaporeans stand together, we will build a stronger Singapore. With this song, I hope that Singaporeans all over the world get the message of how each of us can make a difference, especially when we work together hand in hand, step by step and heart to heart. This song also applauds healthcare workers for their courage and sacrifice in this ongoing fight against the pandemic and also convicts Singaporeans to keep lighting up Singapore’s flame of hope for a better future.
Reminiscing past celebrations
I look forward to the time where we can have National Day celebrations again. Back in 2019, I remember attending the National Day Reception on 10 August at the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriot Hotel, organised by the Singapore Consulate-General in Hong Kong and the Singapore Global Network. My family and I went early as we had volunteered to join the Little Red Dot Singaporean community of packers for the goody bags, which consist of lots of discount vouchers, drinks, snacks and National Day souvenirs such as national flags. Although packing for a few thousand participants was hard work, it was very memorable!
The event was vibrant with singing performances and lucky draws. We won 2 lucky draw prizes consisting of a lovely box of gourmet cookies and a dining voucher at the Tai O Heritage Hotel. Singaporeans were excitedly queueing up for the sumptuous buffet of Singapore food such as Hainanese chicken rice and laksa. I remember queuing up for the chicken rice when suddenly my lucky draw number was called. After I ran to receive my lucky draw prize, the Singaporeans in the queue were kind enough to allow me to queue back in my original queue position. This was truly the Singapore spirit at work! During the celebration, we also had fun with activities such as sticking on National Day tattoos. I had a tattoo of the Singapore merlion on my hand. The highlight of the evening was at the end of the event when the Singaporeans stood up to sing the National Day songs and wave the national flags proudly. The next day, we were treated to a second round of feasting of Singapore food for all volunteers at Café Malacca. It was truly a memorable time of feasting, catching up with fellow Singaporeans and making new friends!
Still a day to celebrate!
This year’s National Day will be spent in Hong Kong as we have not been back in Singapore since the pandemic. We will spend National Day watching the National Day parade on television. This year’s National Day will be especially meaningful for our older son as he will be enlisted into the national service after National Day. While we will miss our family and friends in Singapore this year, especially our son who has already flown back to Singapore, I am thankful for technology as we are still able to talk virtually with our son and family.
Our National Day message for all Singaporeans is to be optimistic for our future, persevere and press forward. Together, we can overcome all challenges. Happy 56th birthday Singapore!
Formerly a teacher, Suzanne Lee is presently pursuing her PhD in Education at the University of Hong Kong. Suzanne and her family are Singaporeans and they moved to Hong Kong from Singapore more than 10 years ago. She is passionate about playing the piano and composing songs, especially gospel songs, and was even the co- composer of the school song at a school that she taught at.