Singtel has released its annual National Day tribute celebrating the Singaporean spirit of diversity, inclusivity and paying it forward.
Featuring national para-swimmer Toh Wei Soong, Theatre Arts scholar and practitioner Shaza Ishak and orthopaedic surgeon and medical volunteer Dr Kumaran Rasappan, the film focuses on their shared dream of paying it forward.
“Being a para-swimmer in Singapore, I realise I have a chance to speak out for a lot of people who aren’t sure what they want to do in life,” says Toh Wei Soong, gold medallist at the World Para Swimming World Series who has set his sights on winning for Singapore at next year’s Tokyo Paralympics. “My dream is to bring this message of inclusion and positivity to people.”
“Multiracial harmony is a lot of work and we need to keep at it. We need to hear voices from all parts of society and the medium of theatre is a good way of getting these voices heard,” says Shaza Ishak, head of Teater Ekamatra who’s currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Producing in London through a National Arts Council scholarship.
“There are a lot of people in Singapore who require help,” says Dr Kumaran Rasappan, founder of Project Aasha which organises medical volunteering missions to Nepal though he believes volunteering is needed both at home and abroad. “We mustn’t always think we have to go overseas to help out some other population which is more needy. We can start first in our own community.”
“This year, we pay tribute to Singaporeans who exemplify the Singaporean spirit of giving back – whether it’s speaking up for our differently-abled, our ethnic minorities or helping the less fortunate,” says Lian Pek, Singtel’s Vice President for Group Strategic Communications and Brand. “Singapore is known for its progress and punching above its weight but we need to keep including and looking out for those who find themselves on the fringes of society.”
First National Day song commissioned to mark bicentennial and Singtel’s 140th
Wei Soong, Shaza and Kumaran’s desire to give back has inadvertently meant time away from home, competing on the world stage, learning new skills to be applied back home and helping those who are less fortunate. Interestingly, it is through stepping away that one appreciates home even more. This theme of following one’s dreams while being firmly rooted to home is captured in the film and its original score, In Return, the first National Day song commissioned by Singtel to mark Singapore’s bicentennial and also Singtel’s 140th anniversary.
The tagline, “Follow your dream and always know your way home”, is played out in the video with the protagonists finding a renewed sense of purpose and belonging every time they return to Singapore and their families. As the song lyrics read, “I have found what makes me stronger, but it’s taken me much further, to see what matters most now in return.”
“Singaporeans are no longer just internationals working and living overseas. They’re global citizens who are contributing to society at home and abroad,” adds Lian Pek. “As the nation marks its bicentennial, we also wanted to capture this growing sense of global citizenship and the shared understanding that Singaporeans – no matter where they are in the world, always know how it feels and what it means to come home.”
Conceptualised and produced in-house in collaboration with Akanga Film Asia, and directed by K. Rajagopal, the video airs on Singtel TV and social media channels from 19 July to 13 August.
Additionally, three short films featuring extended interviews with Wei Soong, Shaza and Kumaran, will be released next week.
Commissioned by Singtel, In Return was composed by Ting Si Hao, penned by Marc Nair and performed as a duet by siblings Benjamin Kheng and Narelle Kheng, both members of Singaporean band The Sam Willows.