The annual NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) Rag and Flag was the most spectacular one yet as it was held in tandem with NUS’ 110th anniversary celebrations and culminated in a joyous affair on 7 August, just two days shy of Singapore’s 50th birthday. Furthermore, a total of $451,120 was raised for the beneficiaries during Rag and Flag Day, surpassing the initial target of $450,000. Flag Day, held on 4 August, is a proud NUS tradition since the late 1950s which sees the NUS community approach members of the public for donations in aid of the less fortunate.
Held at the largest floating stage in the world — The Float@Marina Bay — as part of the Golden Jubilee Weekend and National Day Parade celebrations, the event was graced by Guest-of-Honour Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister for Environment and Water Resources. Also in attendance were NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan; NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye; Dean of Students Associate Professor Tan Teck Koon; NUSSU President Lim Kok Seng as well as Community Chest Director Mrs Heng Li Lang.
In his address, Dr Balakrishnan highlighted Singapore’s achievements and the major role played by the nation’s oldest university. “I’m from NUS and I’m proud of it!” he began. “NUS is special because you are even older than Singapore. The Singapore spirit, the Singapore character, the definition of what makes a Singaporean must have its reflection in NUS.” Addressing the freshmen, he remarked that they were on the threshold of a great adventure. “Look at the Singapore we have today. It is the result of a great adventure, the result of great vision and imagination, and my friends, your adventure is just beginning,” he said.
Rag Day 2015, themed “Where I belong” with the tagline “To be with the people” symbolising solidarity with the community, boasted a colourful display of unity by the different halls and schools. Some 1,800 students put up a spectacular display of creativity and enthusiasm for the 26,000-strong crowd, showcasing months of preparation. Spectators marvelled at intricately designed floats that were carefully transported to the venue and high energy dance moves in the name of friendly, but serious, competition. The event also featured a carnival with booths set up by beneficiaries and sponsors offering fun-filled games and activities.
For the first time ever, the public could also donate during Rag Day itself by tapping their EZ-Link cards on a 3.5 metre “birthday cake” for Singapore, designed by NUS students. The “cake” was covered in thousands of hand-written postcards from the public expressing their well-wishes and love for Singapore.
Members of the public were treated to a special performance by American singer-songwriter, YouTube sensation and NBC’s “The Voice” finalist Christina Grimmie who made her Singapore debut at the celebrations. Home-grown musical talents The Sam Willows and Gentle Bones as well as NUS’ cheerleaders Alpha Verve, NUS acapella group Resonance, NUS Centre For the Arts, Chronos from the People’s Association Youth Movement and Kool Kidz from MINDS Towner Gardens School provided some high-octane entertainment well into the night. Adding to the festive atmosphere was a stunning fireworks display which got the spectators clapping and cheering wildly.
Many spectators were excited to see the floats and soak in the atmosphere with their families. Others were keen to do their part for a good cause. “It’s great being back with friends and enjoying the various performances whilst doing my part for the community. The fireworks were a treat too,” said Mr Matthew Wee, an alumnus who braved the masses with his former university classmates.
The winners of this year’s Rag Day competition were:
- Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (Best Faculty)
- NUS Business School
- Faculty of Science
- Kent Ridge Hall and Sheares Hall (Best Hall)
- Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
- Faculty of Engineering
- Department of Pharmacy
- Faculty of Dentistry
- Faculty of Law
- Eusoff Hall and Temasek Hall
- School of Computing
- University Scholars Club
- King Edward VII and Raffles Hall
- School of Design and Environment