THE unveiling of the calendar of events to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday next year has revealed a strong spirit of giving.
A year-long charity drive, in the name of the nation's golden jubilee, collected $90 million in just four months since its launch in December, the SG50 Steering Committee said yesterday.
The group, which is spearheading the jubilee celebrations, also disclosed that a new walking trail will be developed, taking people through historic sites in the civic district and Marina Bay areas.
Called the Jubilee Walk, it will have trail markers showing the way, and incorporate four new art installations, as well as a new pedestrian bridge stretching from Merlion Park to Marina Promenade.
The walk is among a host of activities the committee, headed by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, has planned around the "simple idea" of all Singaporeans celebrating as one people.
To that end, it has come up with a diverse range of activities for different segments of the population, he said at a press conference to announce the events.
Some are under way, like the Care & Share@SG50 charity drive.
This national fund-raising and volunteerism effort is led by the Community Chest and has raised over $90 million so far that will be used to help the needy and boost the social service sector.
Donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $250 million by the Government, until the end of this year.
Underlining the goals of the SG50 celebrations, Mr Heng said it is about "valuing our people" and "reflecting on how we got to where we are, enjoying all that is unique and important to Singapore, (and committing) to building a better Singapore for the future".
Hence, the programmes will focus on celebrating shared values that "undergird the Singapore spirit... that has enabled us to succeed in the past and given us confidence for an even brighter future", he added.
The celebrations will start with a big countdown party on Dec 31 at Marina Bay, and continue through the year with events that include the opening of the National Gallery.
Besides these large-scale events, which the Government will lead, there will be community- led initiatives organised by Singaporeans themselves.
The steering committee had called for ideas for the birthday bash from Singaporeans, and received about 11,000 in two months. It has picked 1,400.
For those with concrete ideas, the Government has $5 million in the SG50 Celebration Fund to finance ground-up projects.
Since January, 14 projects have been selected out of 100 proposals received.
The committee is open to boosting the fund should more good ideas come along, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who is on the SG50 committee.
Partnerships have also been formed with companies, federations and associations in 32 industry sectors to get the private sector on board.
Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah, who is also on the committee, said the value of the celebrations is "an intangible thing".
"What you are really doing is you are celebrating what it means... you want to seal in people's hearts and minds the meaning of something, and in this case, it is the meaning of how we have become a nation together, the fact that we are looking forward to a future together and we are going to forge that future together."
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.