Funpacks, much like its name suggests, are supposed to bring fun into people’s lives.
Every year, Singaporeans who attend the National Day Parade get a little bag filled with goodies, trinkets, and some things that you’ll probably never use.
Last year, for instance, items like reusable bamboo drinking straws, a discount booklet, and a luggage tag, to name a few, were included in the pack.
Sure, it’s not exactly an iPad, but hey, it’s free, and Singaporeans love free things.
That’s why when the government announced on 20 May that every Singaporean and PR household will get a funpack this NDP, people got upset and started complaining- wait, what?
No Time For Fun(packs)
Many residents felt that the resources used to manufacture the novelty and perishable items in the funpack were wasted because most recipients would either throw it away or never use it.
And at a time when businesses are crumbling and people are losing their jobs, some argued that this was not the best use of their financial resources.
One man, Kaushik Ilango, started a petition to allow Singaporeans an “opt-out” option for receiving the funpacks.
He commended the efforts of the organisers to lift our spirits, but said that the resources “could be better spent addressing more urgent needs of the society at present.”
His petition has garnered over 110,000 signatures so far.
Other netizens joined in as well, echoing Ilango’s sentiment that the funpacks are “wasteful”.
Believe it or not, people actually got their wish.
Not all Households Will Receive NDP Funpacks; Only 80% Will be Produced Now
In response to the petition and online objections, National Day, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced that the NDP executive committee will only produce funpacks for 80% of all Singaporean and permanent resident households.
Speaking in Parliament, Dr Ng said that the committee aims to be inclusive for every NDP, and will take into account the different views and interests of the people, according to The Straits Times.
At the same time, it’d be impossible to accommodate everyone’s interests, he said.
“If every interest group pushes for its own agenda, especially during NDP, then our common ground to celebrate this national event shrinks because the exco will simply never be able to satisfy every request adequately”.
While the Defence Minister agreed with those who said the committee should be financially prudent for this year’s NDP, he also believes that scrapping the celebrations would only make us feel more depressed about the situation.
“If we allow despair to prevail in our national psyche, particularly during this Covid-19 pandemic, then I say that will be the greatest harm to the future of Singapore – much more devastating than the economic impact, the loss of jobs and businesses.”
He argued that the country has always chosen to celebrate NDP, even in troubled times such as the recession of 1985, SARS in 2003, and the global financial crisis in 2008.
“Because of that hope and optimism, Singapore emerged stronger,” he said.
What If I Still Want a Funpack?
If you still want a funpack, don’t feel bad about it. Though I wouldn’t post pictures of it on social media because you might get crucified.
According to Dr Ng, this year’s funpack will include hand sanitisers, a full-sized national flag, iron-on patches for masks, face tattoos, and a pledge card.
There will also be discount booklets, of course.
Additionally, this year’s funpack will please environmentalists, as the bag itself is a reusable grocery bag and will contain no single-use water bottles, plastic clappers or packaging.
Residents can collect their funpacks from 20 July to 2 Aug from their community centres.
Volunteers will distribute the packs to vulnerable groups.
While things like face tattoos and iron-on patches might not be what many of us need right now, it might just bring a smile to a few young faces.
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