NDP pack collection kicks off
Most laud move to give every Singaporean and PR household a bag and say items involved are more practical this year
Mr Zou Ji He, a hawker who will be working on the public holiday on Aug 9, was pleased to receive his family's National Day Parade (NDP) pack yesterday.
It is the first NDP pack the permanent resident (PR) has managed to get his hands on since he moved here from China more than seven years ago.
He was at Keat Hong Community Club in Choa Chu Kang to collect it with his seven-year-old daughter, his only child.
"She was born here and considers herself Singaporean. She particularly likes the flag and, I am sure, will be waving it. I think it is a great policy that the Government has included PR households in the scheme," said the 42-year-old.
Yesterday was the first day of the two-week collection period for the Singapore Together Pack at community clubs or community centres (CCs) and residents' committee (RC) centres.
This year's pack comes in a tote bag, and - following suggestions it should contain essentials more relevant to families amid a pandemic - includes hand sanitisers, a thermometer and face masks.
Every Singaporean and PR household is eligible to collect the bag this year. Each household can collect one pack, and residents must present their NRIC at the collection counters for verification.
Many people The Straits Times spoke to said this makes the pack much more accessible than in previous years, when NDP packs were given out only to those attending the parade or parade rehearsals.
Ms Esther Koh, who is unemployed but used to work for a petroleum company, said a bag for each family is the "perfect" way to go about distributing the packs.
"It is usually quite unfair, because only selected people get it and it's so difficult to bid for tickets. Now, I can get the bags without having to sit under the hot sun for the parade," the 62-year-old said. "If people do not want it, they can choose not to collect it. I think it's a very nice gesture by the Government."
There had been calls in some quarters in the lead-up to this year's NDP to allow people to opt out of receiving the pack, with a petition citing reasons such as the current economic conditions.
Mr Richard Ho, a manager at a medical company, said the contents of the bag could be streamlined further, as he rifled through the pack moments after collecting it at Keat Hong CC.
"I understand the need for commemorative items, but things like the bag of chips are quite forgettable and not really necessary.
"But this year's bag is already better than previous years because it has fewer toys and more usable items, like face masks," the 52-year-old added.
Third-year polytechnic student Arthur Lee said the packs provide residents with a sense of normality during the pandemic.
"It isn't a bad tradition, but we should keep talking about what we need or do not need in the bags," he said.
"That they are giving the bags out to every family this year can be seen also as a show of support for everyone and will raise spirits."