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© Chi Hang Ong/Flickr
© Chi Hang Ong/Flickr
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5 Things You Need to Know About Singapore National Day

Picture of Prianka Ghosh
Updated: 4 August 2016
August 9, 2016 marks Singapore’s independence from Malaysia in 1965. Although this year’s celebrations will be smaller than last year’s epic commemoration for SG50, there are still many exciting activities to look forward to during what is being essentially treated as a long weekend.

1. History

Today, Singapore is known as one of the safest places to live in Asia and, in fact, the entire world. This wasn’t always the case. From 1942-1945, Singapore suffered under the harsh rules of Japanese occupation. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, Singapore was returned to Britain, however its citizens no longer had any confidence in Britain’s ability to govern and protect Singapore due to its quick fall to the Japanese in 1942. The result of this was that Singapore saw devastatingly widespread revenge-killing, looting, and general destruction.

From 1945-1955, Singapore held its first two Legislative Council Elections and started the slow move towards becoming a democracy. The Second Legislative Council election saw the debut of the People’s Action Party (PAP), which would go on to be Singapore’s ruling body for over 50 years. Over the next decade, the PAP increased in size as Singapore moved from a partial internal government to being fully self-governed. In 1963, PAP leaders decided that the way for Singapore to move forward was through merging with Malaya and so, along with North Borneo and Sarawak, the Federation of Malaysia was born.

Almost immediately the union proved impossible, with high racial tensions between the Chinese and Malay communities. After two years of strife, the Malaysian Prime Minister decided to expel Singapore from the union to prevent further violence and disharmony. On August 9, 1965, Singapore would be voted out of the Federation of Malaysia and take its first tentative steps toward being a sovereign nation.

Capitol Theatre | © Charmaine Zoe/Flickr
Capitol Theatre | © Charmaine Zoe/Flickr

2. Fireworks

On to the celebrations! If you somehow haven’t already noticed over the past few Saturdays of practice sessions, the fireworks this year have moved from their location near Marina Bay over to the National Stadium. You can certainly see them from vantage points like the top of MBS or Level 33, but you will have a better vantage point from Kallang Wave Mall (likely to be insanely crowded) or Marina Parade (should be much quieter), as well as many other locations.

📍 Kallang Wave Mall

3. National Day Parade

The results of the lottery to get tickets to watch the full celebration were announced a few months ago, but fear not, you can still enjoy the parade as it travels through the Central Business District en route to the National Stadium. Featuring chinooks carrying a giant Singapore flag, military vehicles, and impressive cultural performances, it is worth braving the crowds and heat to see.

The NDP website is still waiting to be updated, but meanwhile visit them on Twitter for more frequent updates.

4. Museums Have Discounted Or Free Tickets

The ArtScience Museum is offering half-price tickets to all their exhibits on National Day. Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan to get there early to avoid the queue. During last year’s free admission, some people waited over three hours to get into the museum.

The National Museum of Singapore is having an Open House for National Day, meaning free admission as well as special programming related to the occasion. The highlights include balloon-sculpting, where kids will learn how to make balloon animals of Singaporean icons like chilli crab, Singa the Lion, and the national flag, and for the adults, a dual-feature screening by Singaporean director Royston Tan. The two films being screened are Homecoming, which follows the lives of a few Pulau Ubin residents, and The Provision Shop, showing the interactions between locals and foreigners in multicultural Singapore. Pre-register for the screenings and get more information about their National Day program here.

📅 Tuesday, August 9, 2016 from 10am – 7pm

📍 National Museum of Singapore

5. Extended Hours on Public Transportation

In an effort to make it easier for people to get home after a day of celebrating National Day, both SBS and SMRT are extending the service hours for the MRT as well as some bus routes. The areas around the National Stadium and Marina Bay will be especially chaotic and will likely have a spillover effect on onto the CTE, so be sure to check the traffic maps on Google before you jump into a taxi. Get more information on extended schedules from the SBS and SMRT websites respectively. The schedules are also posted in all MRT stations.