Where were you at 8.10pm?

Where were you at 8:10 pm today, as Singaporeans stood at the Padang and other other heartland National Day Parade concert sites all over the island, taking their pledge in unity? Did you see others stop? Did you stop to take the pledge yourself?

I didn’t.

I was running about the city observing and hoping to see if we really did stop to sing ‘Majulah Singapura’ and recite the pledge.

Some netizens online argue that the government’s call to take the pledge together at 8:10pm is a laughable attempt at garnering patriotism. They argue that because of this, Singaporeans are sheep and other countries laugh at us for this- that in other countries people voluntarily sing the national anthem during their national/ independence day. They further argue the government is brainwashing the citizens.

However the truth of the matter is that in other countries, the media is already used as a tool of propaganda. Interestingly enough, while locals would call The Straits Times propaganda, they would happily swallow news from ‘alternative sources’ without properly analyzing them.

I think most Singaporeans are patriotic enough. Orchard Road was pretty devoid of crowds, and what I saw at the Padang and Clarke Quay area: masses of locals and foreigners decked in red and white waiting with excitement despite the hot sun. We stood together, shoulder to shoulder regardless of race, language or religion.

Unfortunately, that was only at the Padang and other National Day concert spots. As I walked up and down Plaza Singapura, I saw no red-blooded Singaporean take a stand and start singing. Although the News5Tonight did mention that this wasn’t the case at ION Orchard.

Maybe we’re just shy and overly conscious of standing out. But we all did stop and stare – some jumping in delight – outside Plaza Singapura as fireworks rocked the sky and brought into life man-made rainbows.

Where was I at 8:10pm today? I was in the crowd of faces enjoying that sight. I didn’t know the auntie beside me, but I’m pretty sure she was Singaporean.

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