Last Sunday we celebrated Singapore’s 44th national day. Some observers commented that this year had a more youthful feel to the build-up and celebrations, with the promotion of the parade through social media, and the official song written and performed by local band Electrico. Regardless of your opinion about the song, it’s not hard to see that the government is continuing its efforts to connect with the young.

I’m part of a demographic that the government is rather concerned about; the ‘brain drain’ is often  thrown about with many educated young Singaporeans moving abroad to chase their dreams. Here’s the thing – I studied overseas for 4 years but decided to come back, served my 2 years of National Service, and am now working for Priority in Singapore. Yet you won’t find me hanging the national flag outside my flat, or making any particular effort to watch the parade on TV, nor participating in activities which I find trivial, such as the coordinated pledging of loyalty to the nation at 8.22pm on that day. Does that mean I have no national pride?

I think national pride manifests itself in many ways. Whilst I and many of my peers feel a bit cynical and jaded about singing national songs, perhaps due to over-exposure in our school-going years, there’s no denying that we proudly identify with uniquely Singaporean aspects and acknowledge Singapore as our home. Take for example the Singapore Days organised in New York, London and Melbourne, which some of my friends attended while studying in those places. I would like to believe that it was more than just the promise of free food which drew thousands of Singaporeans to each event. I can say from personal experience that when living overseas, nothing beats the familiarity of being surrounded by fellow Singaporeans and laughing over the things that remind you of home, such as the ‘Chope!’ tissue packets issued at the London event which you could use to reserve your seat.

At the end of the day, attempting to reinvent or update the national day parade with items such as pole dancing doen’t motivate me to watch it and I care not for rituals and activities that are supposed to foster national pride. I’m not sure if there’s anything that can be done to change that but I do have something which I feel is more crucial – that sense of belonging to Singapore, and I will always consider it to be my home.