S'pore residents concerned that NDP funpacks for 1.2 million households will be 'wasteful'

They pointed out that doing so is wasteful both environmentally and financially.

Jane Zhang | May 21, 2020, 04:40 PM

It was announced on Wednesday, May 20 that every Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) family will receive a funpack for the 2020 National Day Parade (NDP).

Chairman of the NDP executive committee, Brigadier-General Frederick Choo, said that Singaporeans have a "very close affinity with" funpacks, and that every Singaporean and PR household will be taken into account.

He estimated that around 1.2 or 1.3 million households will be able to get their hands on the funpack, and assured that every Singaporean who "wants to collect a funpack" for the household, will get a funpack.

However, some online, including local influencer Xiaxue, have voiced their concerns that providing NDP funpacks for all Singaporean and PR households is wasteful, both environmentally and financially.

Calls to reconsider NDP funpacks

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen shared on Facebook on May 20 that this year's NDP will "turn an adversity into triumph," and how NDP celebrations will be brought into the homes of Singaporeans islandwide.

"Fun packs will be distributed to all Singaporean households, so that every family can join in the celebration in the comfort of their home and together as a community, while still observing safe distances," wrote Ng.

While some Facebook users shared their excitement about the funpacks...

... others appealed to Ng to either do away with the funpacks for environmental reasons, or to provide more useful items in them for those who need them the most.


Here's Ng's post:

Facebook users commented on NDPeeps Facebook page, which had shared Ng's post, with similar appeals:

Even local influencer Xiaxue took to Instagram to share her thoughts on the funpack.

In two Instagram stories on May 20, she said that NDP is not considered "essential", and that the money that is spend on organising it could instead be used to help businesses and the unemployed during this time instead.

She explained that while she loves getting the funpack when attending the parade, it is not necessary when not physically present in the stadium, and asked whether it was possible to opt out of receiving one.

She also included a poll in one of her Instagram stories, asking whether her followers would want a fun pack. Out of the responses, 10 per cent selected "yes" while 90 per cent chose the "no thanks" option.

Image screenshot via Instagram / @xiaxue.

Image screenshot via Instagram / @xiaxue.

Calls to give feedback to NDP committee

Some members of a public Facebook group called Journey to Zero Waste Life in Singapore have encouraged concerned residents to leave their feedback on the NDP feedback form.

One Robin Rheaume, who is an administrator of the Facebook group meant for people in Singapore "who are curious, interested or trying to reduce the amount of waste they produce", had the following feedback to share:

"I read yesterday that there are plans to give every citizen and PR household a fun pack this year. That is extremely wasteful and just contributes to the kind of carbon release that we are just starting to heal from. Let's create a new normal — not go back to a wasteful normal.

On top of that, it is a shame to see that WP holders are being erased again. Are our memories so short? They are not even free from their lockdown and we are erasing them from celebrations of a nation they helped build and have definitely suffered for.

I hope you will reconsider this waste and put the money towards something that has long lasting benefit and value to everyone living here regardless of pass type."

Post screenshot via Facebook / Journey to Zero Waste Life in Singapore.

Others also shared their feedback in the comments of the post, with some offering alternatives such as employing an opt-in system, digitising the funpack, or reorienting it to support local businesses and hawkers:

A petition has even been started for people who wish to opt out of receiving the funpack. The petition states that while the petitioners commend the efforts of the committee, the resources could be better used to address current urgent needs instead.

Mothership has reached out to the NDP Executive Committee for a statement and will update this article when we receive a response.

Previously-raised concerns about environmental impact of funpacks

The NDP 2019 funpack was designed to be more environmentally-friendly than past NDP funpacks, by including reusable items such as bamboo straws and a water-resistant bag.

This came after Ng announced in November 2018 that the NDP 2019 funpack would be more environmentally-friendly, responding to a question by Nee Soon Member of Parliament Louis Ng on measures being taken to reduce single-use plastics at NDP 2019, and whether the Ministry would consider providing only reusable items with minimal packaging in the NDP 2019 funpack.

In September 2019, Louis Ng once again raised questions in Parliament about the possibility of making NDP funpacks more environmentally-sustainable.

In a Facebook post on Sep. 15, 2019, he asserted that NDP 2019 still generated "a lot of waste" by giving out 175,000 single-use plastic bags and 175,000 plastic bottles.

In previous NDPs, the funpacks were provided only to those in attendance of NDP. This year's provision of funpacks to an estimated 1.2 or 1.3 million Singaporean and PR households is an ever larger scale than past distributions.

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[Disclaimer: The items and appearance of the funpack shown in the cover image are from NDP 2019, and will be different for NDP 2020.]

Top image compiled from 2019 funpack via Facebook / Zero Waste Singapore, Instagram / @xiaxue, and Facebook / Journey to Zero Waste Life in Singapore.