WTF is National Day Rally?

I was watching the National Day Rally (NDR) the other night while one of my younger friends (19yrs old there about) asked me to hang out.

“Bro, go kopitiam chill leh.”

“Another time. I’m catching up on NDR.”

“WTF is NDR? On NetFlix ah?”

I’m not surprised by this question at all. 

Truth is I was never a big fan of the NDR until recent years. To me, it used to be just a guy talking about things I did not care about, on every single free-to-air TV channel. Yes, there’s just no escaping it.

Your generation does not have any idea how painful that was, considering how you guys now have so many on-demand platforms like NetFlix and YouTube. (Or even Toggle, if you are one of those #supportlocal kinda kid.) 

Thanks to NetFlix, life is a lot easier. If you get what I mean. 

So what changed? What is with the sudden interest in the National Day Rally. And WTF is it anyway? 


  1. A Program to Make You Sound Smart 

The truth is you probably will not understand everything if you don’t really read the news and you’re watching NDR for the very first time. What raising of CPF rates for workers older than 55? What raising of retirement and reemployment ages as protection for older workers who choose to continue working? Why are the older folks so happy about making it compulsory for employers to offer re-employment up to 70 years old? Isn’t it better to retire earlier?

The thing is your professor might talk about it in school the day after NDR, or your girlfriend’s parents might talk about it over dinner, or your older friends might chat about the generous education subsidies over coffee. Especially this year since the Rally unveils the Government’s commitment to make education accessible to everyone, including improving affordability for tertiary level education, which I assume is something that will benefit you. (Yay! To you?)

Even if you do not care, it is still good to know, even if just to look smart. The NDR is also when our PM makes big picture announcements about the future of SIngapore, and what mega projects are coming our way. There’s more good than harm to know.

For the uninitiated, our latest pride of Singapore, Jewel, was first announced in NDR 2013! And POOF* 6 years later, we are all taking Instagram images of it.  Hopefully the greatly anticipated Greater Southern Waterfront will be just as instagrammable! 


  1. Not GST Package Announcement 

Although some NDR topics are about dollars and cents, like the Government’s $100B investment over 50 to 100 years to protect Singapore against rising sea levels and subsidies for pre-school education, do not mistake it for the Singapore Budget. The Budget is a major  event that happens at the beginning of every year. Since the Budget is about how the Government will spend money for the year, it usually addresses more bread and butter issues. Yes, that’s when you find out how much money you’re getting for your GST Vouchers.

The NDR it is really for bigger picture messages. For example, our PM touched on the US-China trade war as well as Singapore’s economy in the near future. It is not just educational but also rather assuring for the PM to tell you on national TV, “What we talk about, we will deliver,”. That’s pretty motivational isn’t it? 


  1. A Program to Show Us Lee Cares! 

If you are doubting this, then you’re probably never interested in NDR. However incredible it may sound, our PM really talked to the nation about cutting sugary drinks and eating brown rice in NDR 2017! Well, it might not be a likely for a PM to tackle, but hey, he really did! It just goes to show that he cares for the people not just as the PM, but also like a fatherly figure.

This year in NDR 2019, PM shows that he cares not just about the country, us, but also for our next and next-next generations by touching on Singapore’s plan to battle climate change. From what I can see from the NYC’s Youth Conversation Action Plan, fighting climate change is something many youths care about. You do right? Do you?  

However, if you are really too cool for TV, our Government has really make an effort to connect and tell you more about NDR. You can actually follow our PM on Telegram and you’ll be receiving messages from him! In fact, he was messaging me with updates throughout National Day Rally. Not to forget he also has a pretty cool sticker pack. LOL. 

You can tell that PM and team put in a lot of effort trying to connect with Singaporeans, including young people like you. (And me. LOL). So it’s a little sad that their efforts sometimes go unappreciated despite showing us over time that this is a relatively competent and clean government that dares to adopt a long-term view in terms of solutioning instead of churning out short-term populist policies.

Anyway, in short, National Day Rally is an event for our PM to tell Singaporeans, “HARLO! I GOT DO WORK OKAY? TRUST ME!” 


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