Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob apologises to travel agents for urging Singaporeans to stay at home for SG50 festivities

After news broke of the Government’s decision to make 7 August a public holiday for SG50 festivities, Singaporeans immediately started overseas plans in anticipation of the even-longer weekend, which will now run from 7 August to 10 August, since 9 August will be on a Sunday.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has urged Singaporeans to not go overseas, but knowing our penchant for getting away during long weekends, the likelihood of her pleas succeeding may fall on deaf ears, if comment sections online are any indication.

Reasons for “defying” her plea included:

1. Stuff costs less overseas than in Singapore

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2. Not caring enough about National Day Parade (NDP) to stay

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3. The choice is for Singaporeans to make

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4. Inability to get tickets for NDP

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Although we’d like to clarify that there are events other than the NDP to look forward to during the upcoming long weekend. Stay tuned for that.

5. #FaithInGahmen

…or a lack thereof.

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6. #SG50 is for foreigners, not Singaporeans

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Some Singaporeans actually want to stay

Of course, not all Singaporeans had plans to go overseas during the long weekend, but not solely for patriotic reasons…

Reasons why Singaporeans will stay:

1. It’s #SG50, just give face

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2. No choice but to stay because no $$$

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We feel you.

3. #SG50 is once every 50 years

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We’ll see you at #SG100 then! Once in 100 years.

4. Everyone is leaving, so there’ll be more space

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Good thinking, gentleman.

5. They’ll stay if they get an NDP ticket

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Terms and conditions apply — the terms being securing an NDP ticket. HINT HINT, NDP organisers.

This is why the Government doesn’t want more public holidays

While Mdm Halimah’s estimates of a quarter of Singaporeans set to go overseas may be an overestimation (1/4 of Singapore is about 1.3 million people), there will still a substantial number of potential holiday-goers, because of the nature of long weekends.

Singaporeans aren’t likely to stay put just because it happens to be our 50th birthday. Even without setting 7 August as a public holiday, many Singaporeans were going overseas anyway, simply because they can use less days of leave for more holidays. Leave is precious and there are even guides to fully utilising your days of leave in conjunction with long weekends.

Additionally, the difficulty of securing an NDP ticket through balloting has alienated Singaporeans who may have stayed otherwise.

For the poor patriotic, you’re still in for a treat

That said, the various events lined up for festivities should still draw in crowds, regardless of Mdm Halimah’s pleas. Most Singaporeans will stay and celebrate, or just stay at home because some Singaporeans aren’t interested in being around crowds.

Perhaps more discounts for Singaporean citizens during the long weekend would work (just not for air fares!), but not to a “simi sai also SG50” extent. Even free performances may not draw in crowds unless the performers represent a wider variety and cater to as many people as possible.

The ones who want to stay will, and the ones who don’t, won’t. Short of charging for exit permits (credits to Mr Miyagi on Twitter), there isn’t much the Government can do to make all Singaporeans inclusive.

The current programmes are pretty good, to be honest. Not many people appear to be aware of them though.

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Will you stay in Singapore for the long weekend?


Featured image via Halimah Yacob
With references from Channel NewsAsia