The timing was unfortunate, inopportune, one might say. On Friday evening, the 8th of August 2008 (or 08-08-08), China put on a show extravaganza that simply took away everyone's breadth. Costing in the region of billions of dollars, it was simply one of the most spectacular opening ceremonies of an Olympic games. As I watch the TV now, of Singapore's National Day Parade on the banks of the Marina Bay, I must say that I am underwhelmed. And perhaps Mr Lee Kuan Yew feels the same too, having been at the Olympics opening ceremonies less than 24 hours ago. This is not to disparage the effort and sincerity of most Singaporeans on this occasion. It is a fact that somebody else has the resources and the talent and the people to mount something much more impressive. Its just that it probably would have helped if both occasions didn't come back to back on consecutive evenings, not when technology can bring both occasions into the living rooms of anybody anywhere in the world with a TV that is plugged into broadcasters with a license for these occasions.
Spectacle aside, it probably is politically more correct to have a modest celebration in Singapore, after the PM and government Ministers have been on air in the last few days warning the nation of harder times ahead. It just wouldn't do to see millions thrown into pageantry, never mind that it is only a once a year affair. But pageantry there must be, to show the rest of the world that we are not rolling over and playing dead. We are still very much alive and kicking, and if the past is anything to go by, and I am not referring to the recent past, but the past 43 years (or more if we count the year 1959 when Singapore gained self-government), then we should be ok. A people must show that it can enjoy the good times, but also hack the bad times. And I am sure we will emerge the stronger for it. Adversity breeds genuine character, so the Chinese saying goes.
Image taken off Mediacorp's 'Live' Web TV during the National Day Parade 2008 on 9th August 2008.
P.S. This is telling...from Yahoo Singapore: