Looking to the road ahead

It was the second year running that NUS was marking Singapore’s National Day with a virtual celebration. Much has happened over the past 12 months – the development of vaccines had provided hope, but the elevated cases both here and overseas are providing a stark reminder that it is still a long road towards the new normal.

Amid this backdrop, the National Day Observance Ceremony on 6 Aug saluted the country and the University’s resilience in these unprecedented times, whilst providing hope for the future. It was encapsulated right from the start by this year’s National Day theme song, The Road Ahead, co-written and co-produced by NUS alumna and singer-songwriter Linying. “Come whatever on the road ahead; we did it before, and we’ll do it again,” rang the song’s kicker, a welcome encouragement to one and all.

The themes of community and resilience were also emphasised as NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye addressed the 2,200 staff, students, alumni and friends of the University who had tuned in.

“As the University prepares to step into a new academic year, I sincerely hope that this will be a year where we stay connected to each other and united as One NUS and as One Singapore. We will together have to navigate the unchartered path ahead of moving from COVID-19 pandemic to endemic, and emerging from the pandemic to a very different world.”

Like in previous years, National Day and the start of the academic calendar coincide with the annual Rag and Flag campaign where the student body raises funds for the less fortunate.

Prof Tan encouraged the community to donate generously, where possible. “All funds raised will go to the Community Chest before being appropriately channelled to 22 charity programmes under various social service agencies.”

Another major event is being held this year. Five NUS students and alumni have flown the country’s flag proudly at the Tokyo Olympics, itself delayed by a year due to the pandemic. Prof Tan paid tribute to them: Kiria Tikanah from the Faculty of Science; Adele Tan and Toh Wei Soong from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS); FASS alumna Chantal Liew (Class of 2020) and Joan Poh (Class of 2016) from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Nursing programme. “NUS and Singapore are immensely proud of you, and I am deeply inspired by your courage, endeavour and purpose.”

The community joined in a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, led by the NUS Choir and its President, Year 2 FASS student Chloe Kow. The National Pledge was led by NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) President Wee Su-Ann, from the Law and University Scholars Programme Class of 2021.

As the National Day Observance Ceremony drew to a close, the road ahead remained uncertain. But one thing was sure, that Singapore and NUS would face any challenges bravely and with solidarity.

National Day Observance Ceremony 2021