Mr Tan Boon Huat, the chief executive director of the People's Association (PA) between 2003 and 2010 says, "I was moved by the enthusiasm and commitment of Mr Nah Juay Hng, chairman of the PA Chingay Executive Committee. He spoke passionately, urging everyone to give Chingay a chance, and called for it to be continued and improved."
DRUMMING UP EXCITEMENT: Mr Tan still recalls clearly his participation in Chingay 2010, where he drummed on top of an eight-metre high float. The atmosphere was electrifying. The audience, numbering in the tens of thousands, clapped to the rhythm of the drumbeats. Even as the drumming reached a crescendo, the audience responded as one. "I could feel the intense excitement of the crowd. It was very uplifting and unforgettable."
BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES: Mr Tan always associates Chingay with the hard work put in by dedicated colleagues, who have clocked long irregular hours, often late into the night and during weekends, to make the show a success. "They have sacrificed a lot of family and personal time. The PA is full of talented people; I see them performing on stage during every annual dinner. We work together as one harmonious family. Many of our staff have spent their lives here, putting much effort into strengthening community cohesion."
YAM AH MEE FIRES UP CHINGAY PASSION! As a young student, Mr Yam Ah Mee, Chief Executive Director of PA between 2010 and 2013, would watch the Chingay Parade avidly. Whenever possible, he would try to watch it live and if he were unable to see the performance live, he would stay home, glued to the television for the entire telecast. In recent years, Mr Yam has gone down to the ground to experience the exhilarating performance just like he used to do when he was young. He has even joined the ranks of thousands of performers, a possibility that he had never envisaged in his younger years.
ENERGETIC FIRE DRAGON: During Chingay 2010, Mr Yam joined the firecracker dragon dance with 10 grassroots leaders. "We spent many days rehearsing — first we practised the dragon moves and ensured that we would not entangle ourselves. The next challenge was to light the firecrackers. It was still not easy to sway with the giant dragon while ensuring that fireworks did not fall on our bodies. "There were a lot of skills and techniques to master. Although the performance lasted only three short minutes, the smoke and loud sounds made breathing difficult and hearing impossible; even with eye goggles and ear plugs. This was truly one of life's unforgettable experiences." Reflecting on the experience, Mr Yam shared what he had learnt. "It bonded the relationships of the participants. Many grassroots leaders told me subsequently that they missed the camaraderie of the rehearsals and hoped that it could be rekindled, by joining another Chingay Parade in the future."
In line with his career experience as chief executive of the Land Transport Authority, Mr Yam aptly uses Singapore’s efficient transportation system to describe Chingay. "Chingay is like Singapore's excellent and convenient integrated transport system. The Parade reaches out to almost all places and connects all people, carrying with it the mission of spreading art and culture. It is ever-changing."
Regardless of who holds the position, the chief executive director of PA has always joined thousands of volunteer performers in Chingay every year. This shows that Chingay is a procession of the people and the fact that chiefs of PA personally perform has become a much-told tale.
Originally Written by: Lim Hai Yen
Translated by: Lin Xiao Ling