Behind the colourful and lively performances of Chingay, there is a little close knitted family that handles all administrative and communication matters.
Mrs Yow Chor Wah, the former deputy director of the Singapore Chingay and Events Network (SCENE) of the People's Association (PA) has been involved in Chingay for the past 36 years. Even though she retired from PA in 2011, she still often finds herself coming round to help. “I have been so involved with the show. I do not see how I can ever tear myself away, and how I can stop being a part of the Parade," she exclaims. "My colleagues and I have witnessed every stage of Chingay's growth. We have worked together with countless volunteers and part-timers. The process has developed a fighting spirit within us and given us the courage to put out any fires. We can overcome any difficulty. These are what I have taken away from my involvement with Chingay — determination that can withstand all odds, and courage in the face of any trial," declared Mrs Yow.
WE ARE FAMILY
For 60-year-old Madam Neo Kim Yeo, senior clerk of SCENE, there is no job too difficult or too trivial. Together with 10 other full-time staff members, she looks after every administrative matter connected with Chingay. She has been doing this since the very first Chingay Parade in 1973. "We are like one big family. We love and respect one other, and we give our best in our work," said Madam Neo.
RESOLVING CRISIS BIG AND SMALL
As the assistant manager then of the Artiste Network of SCENE, Ms Wendy Lee is in charge of all matters relating to international performances. From communicating with performers from different backgrounds, languages and cultural sensitivities to coordinating their activities to being prepared in the event of a crisis, Ms Lee has it all under control.
Whether an international performer has suddenly fallen ill or there is a sudden disappearance of props, Ms Lee has learnt to remain calm in the face of a crisis, making her an invaluable asset to the team.
In 2010, 4,000 lanterns were brought in from Taiwan. These lanterns were to be released into the sky during the finale of Chingay 2010. The problem was that Singapore's climate is very different from Taiwan's, creating a challenge to compensate for the heat and humidity here in order to achieve the desired effect. Mr Gary Lim, manager of the Arts Projects of SCENE, had to spend a long time experimenting and making many changes before finding success. The result was a beautifully lit sky lanterns mingling with the stars; much to the delight of the audience.
NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE
Mr Julian Aw Soon Liang, currently a director of SCENE is a humourous man. "We often suffer from the Chingay syndrome,” he quips. “There are two symptoms — loss of voice and aching feet. We often lose our voices from talking too much, straining our vocal chords. We suffer aching feet because we have to run around so much! The 30 days before Chingay are the most nerve-wrecking as we are fighting against time. Many of us work into the wee hours, sometimes, even overnight.”
On a more serious note, Mr Aw adds, "Even though we are often swarmed with tedious and stressful assignments, we plough on. We do not give up, we persevere. Nothing is impossible to us as we work together as a team. We constantly encourage one another to push on!"
Year after year, these individuals work tirelessly to make Chingay a success. It is upon such unity and perseverance, that Chingay is built on.
Adapted from: Tales of Chingay – Celebrating 40 Years of Chingay
Written by: Wang Qian
Translated by: Lim Fong Wei