With many tittering with excitement over holiday plans during the unexpected four-day National Day break, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has urged Singaporeans to remain in the country during the long weekend to celebrate the nation’s 50th birthday instead of travelling overseas.
Although there are already seven long weekends this year, many were quick to capitalise on the additional public holiday on Aug 7 announced by President Tony Tan last Saturday, as part of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Budget carrier Scoot, for instance, continued its tradition of offering National Day promotions, posting on Facebook on Sunday (Mar 15) that it wants to hear from customers on destinations for “proper getaways” over that four-day break.
But speaking to reporters Sunday on the sidelines of a walk and funfair organised to mark SG50 and World Consumer Rights Day, Madam Halimah said: “On other occasions, it’s all right but, on this occasion, I hope they’ll stay in Singapore and really celebrate as a nation. It’ll be really sad if a quarter of Singapore has gone overseas to celebrate.”
She added: “It is important that everybody come together and celebrate in their own way together with family, friends and neighbours, and then really we have that real meaning of being part of a nation.”
Special programmes have been prepared for Singaporeans over the National Day weekend to mark the nation’s 50th birthday. It will kick off with the ComChest Heartstrings Walk 2015-SG50 Community Heartbeats in Marina Bay on Aug 7, a Friday.
Other events will also take place at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, West Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park, Sembawang Park and the Singapore Sports Hub.
Families for Life picnics will be held at Marina Barrage, while residents can also catch aerial display performances by the Republic of Singapore Air Force Black Knights Team in the Marina Bay area. Gardens by the Bay will have displays for the event too.
In addition, attractions such as the Jurong Bird Park, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay, as well as Science Centre Singapore are offering free or discounted admission during that period. All museums and heritage galleries will remain open during the four days.
Acknowledging that travel agents may be affected by her appeal, Mdm Halimah said: “I know the travel business will be affected, but I hope they will understand and see the reason why we are making this call.
“In Singapore, the Government does not declare public holidays willingly, it is really something that it thought about carefully.”
For Madam Tan Bee Leng, 52, the line-up of activities is tempting enough for her to remain in town during the long weekend and she hopes to catch the National Day Parade “live” this year.
Mr Dickson Koh, however, would rather spend the break overseas with his family. “It’s rare to have a four-day weekend and I hope to make good use of it by going on a holiday with my family,” said the 28-year-old.