PASSIONS ran high as 500 Singaporean students gathered to celebrate their nation’s 44th birthday at the Sidney Myer Asia Centre in Carlton.
Jointly organised by the Singaporean Student’s Associations (SSA) from Monash University, RMIT and Melbourne University, and funded by the Singapore Government’s Overseas Singaporean Unit, the August 9 event was brought back after last year’s runaway success, which attracted close to 400 guests.
There was fun, patriotic revelry, a live webcast of the Singapore National Day Parade, goodie bags specially flown in specially from Singapore, and of course, delicious fare – Hainanese chicken rice and char kway teow provided by local Singaporean vendors.
Special performances such as the Dikir Barat, a traditional Malay a capella act by students from RMIT, and a hip hop dance routine by Melbourne University students rounded out the event.
It was a hearty reminder of what the country meant to its overseas constituents, especially evident during pledge time, as students joined with their fellowmen at the Singapore Parade in one voice.
Ali Othman, 24, a recent migrant to Melbourne said, “For us overseas, we don’t get to see Singapore everyday, so it means more to us, (it’s not just a) public holiday.”
“It just reminds us of our homeland, and the term (Singapore) means more.”
Lorraine Lin, 22, a student at Monash Clayton, said National Day was a day of remembrance of “everything Singapore”.
“Especially being away from my country for two years, I really miss it, that’s why I’m here today with my friends,” she said.
The man behind it all was Monash Caulfield SSA preisdent Marcus Leong, who said the event was created to “foster a sense of community among overseas Singaporean students, while celebrating National Day together.”
His vision no doubt struck a chord with the local crowd, with tickets selling out weeks in advance.
And wiser from the 2008 celebrations, organisers were also better prepared to manage this year’s event, Mr Leong said.
An army of 60 volunteers helped out on the day with ticketing, ushering, and the dishing out of food.
They were also called upon to manage the snaking queue of eager participants hoping to grab for themselves one of the limited 250 goodie bags available, each filled with Singaporean memorabilia.
“The queue was ridiculous! It started much earlier than expected!” Mr Leong said.
In other words, how typically kiasu (a term in the Hokkien dialect, which literally means scared to lose out) Singaporean.