Today Singapore celebrates its 48th National Day. Parades fill the streets and the city’s various ethnic communities unfurl colorful displays that revolve around this year’s theme for the celebration: “Many Stories…One Singapore.”
There’s even an official background track for this gala: a ditty called “One Singapore,” a song crooned by a choir of 68 Singaporeans, composed by music director Elaine Chan and with lyrics penned by theater figure Selena Tan. The song was derided online as a hokey attempt at cool. But that’s not all.
Unemployment is rising, immigration is a hot button issue, and pollution levels skyrocketed in June and July, blanketing the city-state in haze. But all things considered, Singapore has it pretty good.
The city has been touted as Asia’s most innovative. Its Changi Airport is the world’s best. And the city experienced a significant quarter-on-quarter growth rate of 15.2 percent for the June quarter – the fastest quarterly expansion seen in the Lion City in two years. Year-on-year, the economy grew 3.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, for that matter, securing its rank as the fifth most competitive country in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2013.
World leaders, including Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, have sent their best wishes to the Southeast Asian powerhouse and its President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, it is my pleasure to send our warmest wishes to the people of Singapore as you celebrate your National Day this August 9,” wrote U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Closer to home, local celebrities Tay Ping Hui, Kit Chan, Taufik Batisah and Shabir Tabare Alam, have likewise openly gushed on their city’s strengths on Channel News Asia today. But they also had some constructive criticism for their home.
Hui expressed love for the country, but also suggested it could do more to support its downtrodden. Chan touted Singapore’s diversity, while also calling for Singaporeans to be more grateful for what they have – a lot. Batisah followed similar lines, adding that more could be done to encourage the arts. Alam praised the city’s vibe, describing it as “warm and fuzzy,” while also calling for more emphasis on the arts.
Taufik seems to have spoken for all of these stars queried: “Our economy is doing well. If our arts and music can catch up, and move at the same speed, that would be awesome.”
A sampling of Singapore’s past National Day tunes is available here.