If you’ve attended the National Day Parade (NDP) preview shows, the first thing you probably did was to raid the NDP 2019 funpack.
Admit it – you took out the visor and wore it and probably took a selfie with it.
The NDP 2019 funpack is chock full of parade-day necessities, including a poncho, a bottle of water, plenty of snacks, and a plastic bag to keep your trash.
Dig deeper (into the funpack) and you’ll find that all of the items are sponsored by companies in Singapore.
In the spirit of being Singaporean, we’re going to channel our auntie spirits and kaypoh to learn more about these companies!
The hawker centre is a symbol of our culture.
But in our humid, tropical climate, it’s always nice to eat our favourite local foods in a cool, air-conditioned place.
In 2005, the first flagship Food Republic outlet opened at Wisma Atria, and they are touted as “the first to introduce the quintessential thematic food atrium experience”.
The food court chain, owned by BreadTalk, designed its premises to invoke a sense of nostalgic kampong ambience.
As of 2017, Food Republic has recorded a total of 53 outlets globally, with presence in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and China.
Did you know the founder of BreadTalk, Dr. George Quek, had majored in the arts in the now-defunct Singapore Art Academy?
Before he founded BreadTalk, he lived in Taiwan for a decade and ran two businesses, then he went to Shanghai, China and set up three successful ice cream parlours over a period of nine months.
He felt homesick and decided to return to Singapore.
Instead of proceeding with his retirement plans, the serial entrepreneur, together with some Taiwanese partners, decided to start up the Food Junction chain of food courts.
In 2000, he stepped down as Managing Director of Food Junction and went on to launch BreadTalk, opening its first retail store in just three months of conceptualising it.
Today, the BreadTalk Group owns 10 different F&B brands including Din Tai Fung and Food Republic, and has over 900 retail stores across 18 markets.
Established in 1974, founder Teo Kiang Ang was a secondary school dropout who delivered gas cylinders for a living.
The tenacious entrepreneur came to Singapore from Swatow, China, when he was 10 years old together with his mother.
With little to no money, his mother worked as a washerwoman and then a live-in maid to make ends meet.
His bus conductor and odd-job worker father, who left China “several years earlier”, was hospitalised for tuberculosis at Tan Tock Seng Hospital when they arrived.
At 21, he started his first venture, but it failed due to cash flow issues.
Not one to give up so easily, he saw a lucrative opportunity delivering bottled gas during the HDB flats construction boom in the 1970s.
Today, Union Gas is one of the market leaders in the gas sector, and the business is being run by the second-generation owner.
Polar Water Distributor
In resource-scarce Singapore, water is extremely important.
Established in 1993 by a Singaporean, Polar Water Distributor (PWD) is in the business of providing bottled drinking water to busy Singaporeans and quenching the thirst of office workers.
In 2000, they set up their own manufacturing plant in Singapore, using one of the most advanced distilling technologies in vapour compression to process its products.
They acquired their own building in 2007 and became the principal partner for the NDP in 2013.
Peach Garden Chinese Restaurant
When I think of Peach Garden Chinese Restaurant, I think of a Chinese banquet table filled with dishes like Peking Duck, Yam Ring, and an array of delectable dim sum.
They were both working as hostess captains at a Sichuan restaurant and bonded during their three-hour breaks together.
Since then, they became inseparable, likening themselves to “a pair of chopsticks” as they went on to work at various esteemed restaurants in Singapore.
The veteran restaurateurs opened their first Peach Garden in 2002, and has now grown to nine outlets with three dining concepts and a catering service.
In 2008, Peach Garden was acquired by the Select Group for $10.2 million, but the good friends remain involved in the operations of the business.
Most Singaporeans would have visited the interesting Haw Par Villa before, a theme park owned by the family who created the ointment, Tiger Balm.
The creator was called Aw Chu Kin, the son of a Chinese herbalist, who left for Rangoon (modern-day Yangon) in the 1800s to seek fortune.
He started his own apothecary and physician practice there, and also started a family.
His elder son Aw Boon Haw went to China to study while his younger son Aw Boon Par studied in an English language school in British colonial Burma (now known as Myanmar).
When he died, Boon Par took over the practice, but when he found it overwhelming, he asked his brother to return from China to help out.
After their father’s death, the brothers used their mother’s kitchen to perfect the Tiger Balm recipe he left behind.
The entrepreneurial Boon Haw then went around town, convincing the Chinese shops to stock their ointment.
He later ventured to then-Malaya and Singapore, building a factory along Neil Road, and the business boomed.
In 1937, Boon Haw built a mansion atop a hill in Pasir Panjang for his younger brother, originally called Tiger Balm Gardens, and now known to us as Haw Par Villa.
The Tiger Balm range of products can now be found in over 100 countries and the Haw Par Corporation celebrates 50 years of being listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.
Brothers Chew Choo Keng and Chew Choo Han arrived to Singapore from Fujian, China in 1937 when they were just teenagers.
They worked at Khiam Aik biscuit factory, which was run by industrialist Tan Kah Kee, and Choo Keng quickly to the ranks of supervisor.
When the Japanese Occupation happened, they started up the Khong Leng Biscuit Company in Perak, Malaysia.
As the war went on, flour and sugar became difficult to source, but salt was beginning to grow in demand.
They dissolved the company and started making salt from sea water and sold it.
To survive the war, the brothers also experimented with making soap with ashes, manufactured coconut oil, charcoal, and rubber, as well as traded salt and rice.
When the war ended, the brothers moved back to Singapore and went back to selling handmade biscuits.
Their break came when younger brother Choo Han “chanced upon some war-damaged biscuit making machines being sold as scrap from the old factory where they used to work”.
He quickly bought them and improvised an assembly line to scale the production of biscuits using bicycle chains and an oven.
They established the Khong Guan Biscuit Factory (Singapore) Limited in 1947 and opened its first factory at 18 Howard Road, where it still stands today.
Now, the biscuits can be found in China, Middle East, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Europe, Canada, and the United States.
In Singapore’s formative years leading up to her independence, worker strikes were common in a time when business hygiene was poor.
The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was formed in 1961 by ex-President of Singapore, Devan Nair, following a split in the labour movement.
Under his leadership, NTUC had won over 60% of trade unions in just three years.
Believing that the strikes would only hinder and stunt the progression of our nation, he decided in 1969 to enforce the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act of 1968 and adopted “a cooperative” policy.
To improve the wellbeing and welfare of Singaporeans, NTUC has set up a number of cooperatives, including the FairPrice supermarket chain, NTUC Income, and the Foodfare social enterprise brand.
Happy 54th Birthday, Singapore
The NDP 2019 funpack also includes items provided by notable companies based in Singapore. LiHo Tea, and Active Health (an app by ActiveSG).
Some of these companies include Grab, who has sponsored the ponchos, which will be collected for reuse if unused; LiHo Tea prepared a cute ziploc pouch; and Active Health gifted a bamboo straw set.
What’s also great about the NDP 2019 funpack is that it doubles up as an Emergency Ready Bag, and you can tote it like a backpack or a sling bag.
As we celebrate our nation’s sovereignty and independence, let’s not forget the struggles our forefathers faced to build the country to the metropolis it is today.
Anyway, for those who didn’t get the chance to catch a preview show or who are watching the parade at home, here’s the online NDP 2019 Discount Booklet!
Good things must share. (:
For those attending the NDP at the Padang today, enjoy the show!
Happy National Day!
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post