Total Defence Day
2018 presents a unique occasion to commemorate Total Defence Day and celebrate Chinese New Year on the same day. We believe that whilst TDD and CNY are unique in their own ways, there is something common we can leverage to bring about that special feeling of celebrating the Singapore Spirit.
Fast forward to the CNY concert finale - Northviewans of all races singing harmoniously. In Mr Lim Siong Guan's (former head of Civil Service) words, "If Singaporeans don't have that sense that they want to stand up for the country, then everything else breaks down." How did the day start and how did it end here?
The day started against the backdrop of the rays of the morning sun streaming in, as our School Programme Executive and members of the Cub Scouts acted as Kempeitai soldiers, raring to act against the P1 to P3 “Chinese households” who celebrated CNY openly during the occupation of Singapore.
Teachers were sharing with P1 to P3 pupils the significance of celebrating CNY, an activity parallel to the Chinese households Celebrating CNY during the Occupation, when they were warned about the impending arrival of the “Kempeitai”. All things CNY were hidden just in time as the “Kempeitai” stormed in to check on them.
For every enemy, there is a war hero. Amidst all the chaos, seeds of the Singapore Spirit were sown in heroes like Mr Lim Bo Seng and Mr Tan Chong Tee. While the P1 to P3 classrooms were invaded by the “Kempeitai”, P4 Northviewans hot-seated “Mr Tan Chong Tee” to learn more about the resistance movement.
The low point in Singapore’s history – betrayal against our fellow countrymen. “Should I work for the Kempeitai and betray the resistance fighters?” P5 and P6 Northviewans were presented with two conflicting sides of a dilemma. They had to look deep into their hearts, during the Modified Conscience Alley activity. Singapore Spirit lost?
The classroom experiences were reinforced when all the pupils gathered in the hall for the finale. The blaring sounds of the air raid warning filled the hall and everybody scrambled to the safety of their homes, more often than not – under the tables. A show of solidarity and Singapore Spirit as Singaporeans of all races huddled for safety. So, no. The Singapore Spirit is not lost.
Fear had a sound – re-enacting the haze of fear that surrounded the country during the CNY celebrations during the years under the Occupation, “Kempeitai” soldiers marching in a show of force to break the psychological resilience of the people by not allowing any CNY celebrations.
The very same aisle of fear was transformed to an aisle of celebration and joy during the Fashion Show segment of the concert. The stark contrast threw into light how a nation struggled to survive during the war years to how Singaporeans presently can enjoy celebrating CNY in peace.
The school's Guzheng ensemble ‘s mesmerising performance during the concert. An apt display of the Singapore Spirit; the level of concentration needed for that single musician to pluck accurately. As an ensemble, each musician has a specific note and role to play differently so that when combined, beautiful music is created.
To quote the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew: “There is a glorious rainbow that beckons those with the spirit of adventure... To the young and the not too old, I say, look at the horizon, find that rainbow, go ride it.” The day ends and the Singapore Spirit lives.