Celebrating SG50 in their own special way

Singapore will celebrate its 50th birthday tomorrow with a spectacular parade at the Padang.

But some Singaporeans have already started celebrating the country's Golden Jubilee in their own ways, from making crafts of love to carrying out acts of service.

Operations and administrative manager Ng Hwee Hwee, 41, for instance, has embarked on an SG50 project with a personal twist.

Ms Ng, a needle felt artist who creates sculptures using wool, is making 50 figurines of uniquely Singapore icons like the Merlion, a chilli crab dish, and the once-ubiquitous orange payphone.

"As this is Singapore's 50th birthday, I decided to craft 50 items that are iconic or representative of Singapore to commemorate her birthday, and at the same time pose a personal creative challenge to myself," said Ms Ng, who picked up the craft two years ago.

The painstakingly crafted figurines, which can take up to six months to complete, are not for sale, said Ms Ng. Instead, they will be put on display at her studio in Chinatown, where she conducts needle felting classes.

For diving instructor Jason Ng and taxi driver Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, SG50 is an occasion to be marked by acts of service.

Mr Ng, 25, took the opportunity to spread the word on the importance of keeping Singapore's waters clean.

In June, he and nine divemaster trainees went diving in the waters around Pulau Hantu, one of Singapore's southern islands, to pick up marine trash. They found fishnets, fishing lines, metal bars, plastic bags and even beer cans.

Said Mr Ng: "I've always felt that the marine environment is neglected because people don't see it - trash underwater is not as unsightly as trash onland.

"I brought my divemasters along to help them understand how easy it is to clear rubbish as they dive, and the importance of keeping the environment clean."

Mr Abdul Rahman, 65, has been offering free rides since June 1 to anyone who, like Singapore, turns 50 this year - and can prove it.

On Aug 9, the final day of his "promotion", he is extending free rides to passengers who wear red.

"I am very proud to be a Singaporean... National Day comes only once a year, it is not something you can celebrate every day," said Mr Abdul Rahman, whose taxi is adorned with SG50 red foam balls, stickers and decals.

Meanwhile, Singaporeans can also celebrate the nation's Golden Jubilee in cyberspace, by using special SG50 virtual stickers that Facebook released yesterday.

They feature a character known as Maju the Lion and Singlish expressions like "chop chop" (quickly) and "blur" (confused) and can be sent to friends via Facebook message, used in comments on posts, and added to photographs.

A Facebook spokesman said: "These stickers capture local expressions and are a fun way for people on Facebook to add personality to their National Day photos and more."