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Dressing up for Singapore's National Day party

BLADES OF GLORY: The decor at Yew Tee Zone 12 RC features a helicopter representing the National Day Parade flypast. Fan blades were used for the helicopter?s blades. (PHOTO: MARK CHEONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES)

Publication Date : 20-07-2012


Iconic attractions such as the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and ArtScience Museum have descended upon the heartland in Yew Tee, while over in Tiong Bahru the Changi Airport control tower is taking shape.

With National Day three weeks away, these models of structures that define the country's skyline have made their way into neighbourhoods to mark Singapore's 47th birthday.

Every year, residents' committee (RC) members spare no effort in dressing up their estates with a different look.

Yew Tee Zone 12 RC, which has won the local estate National Day decoration contest for the last three years, started conceptualising the decorations in February.

Its 10-odd committee members then sought the help of residents to collect recycled material such as used CDs for the Merlion's scales, empty plastic bottles filled with gold streamers to outline the MBS integrated resort and red plastic egg trays to form the word 'love'.

Fan blades were used to represent helicopter blades, simulating the National Day Parade flypast. A bicycle wheel with bottles filled with blue-coloured water attached to it will represent the Singapore Flyer.

"We don't need to win this year, but it has to be perfect," said Yew Tee RC's oldest member, former carpenter Yong Poh Foh, 71, beaming with satisfaction.

At Kim Tian West RC in Tiong Bahru, a fireworks mural and a two-storey-tall 'airport control tower' have been erected, also using only recyclables.

"People have come up to me asking if we hired professional contractors to build the tower," said the project's mastermind, Chow Hoy Fong, 55. The welfare home vice-president stepped down as RC chairman this year.

"Some have even suggested leaving the fixture there permanently as a mini attraction," she said, adding that this was a testament to the time and effort put in by the team of 40 volunteers. The team started conceptualising the project in April and started building in May.

This is the third year the RC has used recycled material in its National Day decor.

Last year, it created a Merlion and flower display out of more than 20,000 plastic carrier bags, and in 2010, it formed a Singapore map from 3,806 recycled water bottles - a feat that got it into the Singapore Book of Records.

About 3,000 cans were used to build this year's control tower, all of which were donated by residents.

Chow said the project cost about S$40, spent mainly on buying strong glue to secure the structure.

In contrast, the more extravagant decorations in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 cost Yio Chu Kang RC Zone 8 about $2,000.

A 400m stretch of lighting lining Street 61 has been up since the first week of July. It was put up early to coincide with the estate's racial harmony celebrations on July 8.

Other decorations include a billboard and flags display.

"The most difficult part is tying the flags and banners properly. If it's not done well, the banners will slacken," said RC vice-chairman Alfred Lim, 65, who has been in charge of National Day decorations for the last six years.

Last week, the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts issued a reminder for individuals and businesses to start flying the national flag.

In 2007, the duration the Singapore flag is allowed to be flown was extended - from one month in August to a three-month period from July 1 to Sept 30, "to encourage Singaporeans to express their national pride".

Even as this year's National Day looms, some RCs already have ideas for next year's National Day decor.

At Kim Tian West RC, Chow intends to use wire mesh to form the outline of the Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore's national flower, before completing the structure using bottle caps.

Ambitious Yew Tee RC members are considering getting a scrapped bus as the backdrop for next year's decor.


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