Chingay Night Fiesta will pay tribute to pioneers

Chingay Night Fiesta will pay tribute to pioneers
A multiracial dragon dance is among the performances at the Chingay Night Fiesta, which will be held at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on Feb 21 from 6.30pm to 10pm. Admission is free.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The Chingay Night Fiesta will return this year with an underlying theme of tribute to the pioneers and the values that underpin Singapore.

And the event, which takes place a day after the Chingay Parade, will be held at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park instead of Orchard Road, where it was held last year.

Announcing this yesterday at a press conference, People's Association (PA) chief executive director Ang Hak Seng said the venue was specially picked to honour the legacy of Singapore's pioneers, especially founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who transformed the country into the garden city it is today.

Mr Ang said the late Mr Lee, who died on March 23 last year, had been committed to preserving green spaces as he believed that a clean and green Singapore would be a competitive advantage.

As prime minister, Mr Lee had launched the tree planting campaign in 1963, and had never missed a Tree Planting Day in his Tanjong Pagar constituency. The last one he attended was in 2014. 

"(The pioneers) planted many of the trees so that we can enjoy the shade," said Mr Ang, borrowing from a Chinese idiom about later generations reaping the benefits of the hard work of earlier generations.

He added that this year's Chingay celebrations will also reinforce the message of keeping Singapore clean and green. For instance, PA Youth Movement members and volunteers from environmental groups will be at the park to remind fiesta-goers to pick up after themselves. Organisers of the event will also not use confetti, which might dirty the park, he said.

On the day of the fiesta, the park will be decorated with about 8,000 lanterns bearing illustrations by Singaporeans that reflect values such as racial harmony and social cohesion. The sky lanterns will be kept and reused for other celebrations throughout the year, before they are eventually recycled.

Also on display will be 2,000 lighted cubes, which will feature drawings by students about what they hope Singapore will be when the country turns 100.

Among the acts planned are a combined martial arts demonstration of silat, taiji and silambaatam, an Indian fighting form; an Indian dance; and a multiracial dragon dance.

A 300-strong choir made up of groups from community centres, schools and private music schools will also perform Thank You For Singapore, a song that was first sung in 1991 at a national tribute dinner for Mr Lee after he stepped down as prime minister.

Chingay 2016 executive committee chairman Nah Juay Hng said the song is especially fitting for the tribute to Singapore's pioneers as its lyrics speak of the hard work put into nation building. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mrs Lee will be the guests of honour.

The Chingay Night Fiesta will be held on Feb 21 from 6.30pm to 10pm. Admission is free.

This article was first published on Feb 5, 2016.
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