National Day Parade to have just 150 spectators and 300 participants, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

National Day Parade to have just 150 spectators and 300 participants

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Instead of the tens of thousands of spectators in past years, this year's National Day Parade (NDP) will have just around 150 spectators who are "representatives of society", said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday.

NDP2020 will be broken down into two segments, with a morning parade and ceremony held at the Padang, the site of Singapore's first NDP in 1966, and an evening show at The Star Performing Arts Centre.

There will be around 50 representatives of the Government, including ministers, watching the morning parade and around 100 members of the public as spectators.

Those watching the parade will be seated in three sections of around 50 people each, to prevent intermingling. It will be the same for the evening show.

Participant numbers have also dropped to about 300 this year for both events combined.

This is down from the usual 5,000 to 6,000 people, in the past years.

"There's a careful balance to be struck," said Dr Ng. NDP usually has "a show, parade and ceremony components combined, and participants numbered in the thousands and the spectators numbered in the tens of thousands". Obviously, you can't have that this year, he said.

Those dancing and singing will do so without masks on but Dr Ng said all have been exercising "strict discipline in terms of cohorting" with extra precautions in place.

Performers will take two swab tests, with one done just before the show, to ensure they are free from Covid-19. During practice, when they are not wearing masks, they have to keep 1m to 2m away from one another.

"So far, so good. They've kept themselves free from infection but we're always monitoring," said Dr Ng.

He also commented on the new Cabinet line-up announced on Saturday.

Dr Ng, who retained the Defence portfolio, said he sees his appointment as continuity to take Singapore through the current crisis.

"This is, for Singapore, an existential threat that is life and death, not just for individuals but for our nation. So we will take it as a continuity and we want to build a strong defence to protect our future," he said.

He was elected into Parliament in 2001 and was the Second Minister for Defence from 2005 before his appointment as Defence Minister in 2011.

"Whether I serve and where I serve depends on the Prime Minister. We serve under his direction. It's an honour to be appointed to his Cabinet," he said.

"I'm familiar with the challenges and I thank the Prime Minister and other Cabinet colleagues for the confidence," added Dr Ng. "We must do the best we can, whether it's the ministers, the officials or the rank-and-file soldiers."