25,000 ushered in Singapore’s 52nd Birthday
Enhanced security measures introduced at National Day Parade this year
The heightened security at this year's National Day Parade (NDP) did nothing to dampen the spirits of the 25,000-strong crowd at The Float @ Marina Bay, as Singapore celebrated her 52nd year of independence yesterday.
The 3½-hour spectacle featured crowd favourites such as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Red Lions parachuters, a simulated terrorist attack, a display featuring 300 unmanned drones, and a five-minute fireworks display.
Attendees at the parade, which returned to the floating platform after two years, said the enhanced security against terror threats helped to give them peace of mind.
Secretary Kelly Lim, 37, who was with her sons, aged five and six, said they arrived at 3pm to beat the crowd, knowing they had to go through body and baggage checks.
"The added security made me feel a lot safer. Everywhere I went, I could see officers... At no point was I worried," she told The New Paper.
More than 5,000 personnel from the SAF, police and Singapore Civil Defence Force were involved in managing the security. Among them were personnel from the Special Operations Command and Emergency Response Teams.
Spectator personnel check stations were set up at each of the four entry points to screen people going into The Float.
Around 200 security cameras were also installed in and around the platform to detect any potential problems.
As the parade was gazetted as a "special event" under the Public Order Act, security was also beefed up in the areas around Marina Bay.
Concrete blocks were set up as a safeguard against vehicle attacks in these areas, including the Merlion Park, The Promontory@Marina Bay and in front of Marina Bay Sands, where large crowds had gathered to watch the fireworks display. These measures were previously seen only near the parade grounds.
A new drone-detection system was also introduced to detect and track consumer drones, in case the authorities need to take follow-up action.
A 53-year-old man was arrested for flying a drone at Marina Barrage around 3pm, before the parade started. A police spokesman said officers had spotted him flying a drone within the Special Events Area, where unauthorised flying of unmanned aerial vehicles was not allowed for 24 hours on National Day. TNP understands the man is Singaporean.
Ms Emily Lim, 51, an administrative officer, who was at the parade with her husband, 56, and mother, 78, said the security checks took some time but added that she was happy to live with the "slight inconvenience".
"The officers saw my mother and made sure we got through the checks as fast as possible. I saw them letting the elderly and those with special needs go in first. They did a good job."
Engineer Muhamed Naszerul Azeman, 26, and his sister, teacher Nurul Jannah Azeman, 27, who were at their first parade, were also impressed.
He said: "They made us feel safe, so we could just focus on having a good time."
This year's parade was President Tony Tan Keng Yam's last as the reviewing officer, with the next presidential election due next month. Dr Tan, 77, who has been the parade's reviewing officer since 2012, later told reporters that the NDP was not "just a marvellous show".
"It is an expression of the Singapore spirit, and the way we must continue to strive for progress, because the work never ends," he said, adding that Singapore faces challenges such as economic issues and terrorism.
"But if we work together, we can overcome all of these challenges. Each milestone is just a step on our forward progress."
Dr Tan said that every parade he has attended was special and he is grateful for the chance to serve the nation.
"The NDP is an occasion for Singaporeans to come together to celebrate our achievements, our independence, our progress. It's a day of pride for all Singaporeans."
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