Last December, Miss M Abinaya and her family, along with thousands of others, braved the rain to watch the Peace and Prosperity Singapura (PPSG) 2019 parade at The Float at Marina Bay.
The 20-year-old software developer told The IAS Gazette that her father has heard about the parade on Tamil radio and decided to bring the family to the event to spend some quality time together.
In celebration of the nation’s peace and prosperity in commemoration of the bicentennial anniversary of the founding of modern Singapore, the three-hour parade which was organised by Tao One, a Taoist non-profit organisation, featured a variety of live music performances by local artistes, lion dance on high poles, a car parade with 54 Lamborghinis, and a contingent of musicians and percussionists.
The event also included an interfaith prayer for Singapore’s continued peace and prosperity, led by leaders from the Inter-Religious Organisation.
Senior Minister of State Dr Maliki Osman said: “PPSG 2019 celebrates inter-racial and inter-religious harmony, and while at the same time, reminds and educates the community on how far we have come to achieve that harmony. (It) must not be taken for granted and needs to be continuously cultivated.”
The event also saw the largest assembly of lions – a total of 720 – on display in South-east Asia, generating two new records in the Singapore Book of Records – Largest Mass Lion Dance Display and Largest Lion Eye-dotting Ceremony.
Signifying 720 years since the discovery of the Lion City by Sang Nila Utama in 1299, 720 old and new lions were used to symbolise the social diversity and the transitioning of one generation of Singaporeans to the next.
The eyes of the new lions, which donned the red and white colours of Singapore, were also dotted by distinguished guests in order to “wake” the lions.
Commenting on the parade, student volunteer Lee Ming Yi said: “(PPSG 2019) actually tried to incorporate different elements, (such as) singing songs in different languages and having four hosts speaking in different languages to cater to all the people of different races who are watching the show.”
While the parade has successfully promoted inclusiveness, the 15-year-old felt that more could be done.
“There might be some kind of impact, but it’s not as big an impact as, say, a long-term education.”
Throughout its history as a port city, Singapore has been a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, comprising four main ethnic groups: Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians.
Today, underneath conscious efforts by the government to preserve multi-religious and multi-racial harmony, Singapore also grapples with xenophobic sentiments towards foreigners, as the world’s most competitive economy increasingly relies on immigrants to help shoulder its economic burden, especially with low population growth.
While these issues continue to be addressed one step at a time, Miss Abinaya believes that one thing that Singapore can learn from the past 200 years is to “be together in all situations and stand up for each other”.