They came, they saw and they cheered. From the lone voice of Dr Chee Soon Juan’s 10-year-old daughter, An Lyn, singing the national anthem to the loud crescendo of the finale, the dinner commemorating 30 years of democratic service of the SDP was, judging from the feedback, a huge success.
It was, indeed, a night to remember.
There was fantastic music, there was great food and drink, and best of all there was warm company. What more could a birthday celebrant ask for?
The evening’s show, entitled An Evening of Dazzle with the Democrats, was hosted by the debonair emcee Mr Jagjit Singh and his glamorous co-host Pamela Tan.
The guests were greeted by Mr Gandhi Ambalam and Dr Chee Soon Juan with their spouses. They were ushered into the ballroom and serenaded by the soothing symphonies of Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven as they sipped on their pre-dinner drinks.
Then suddenly the lights dimmed and the pulsating beat of Black Eyed Peas took over. Tonight’s the Night boomed through the speakers as pictures of the Singapore Democrats, past and present, flashed across two giant screens on each side of the stage.
This was followed by the national anthem and the recital of the pledge by An Lyn after which dinner commenced with a sumptuous buffet spread of Asian and International cuisine. Wine and soft drinks flowed freely as the guests mingled and chatted.
In the background, the diners were entertained by Fire Nation, an up and coming local band. The trio of two guitarists and a percussionist provided mellow popular classics from the 1960s to the 90s.
Party Chairman Gandhi officially welcomed everyone present who included leaders and representatives of the various opposition parties such as Singapore People’s Party, National Solidarity Party, Reform Party, and the PKMS as well as from the Australian, French, Thai, and US foreign missions.
Two senior democrats were then presented with the party’s Long-Service Awards. Messrs Michael Hwang and Albert Lim were honoured for their dedicated services through the decades and were greeted warmly as they got on stage to be recognised.
Leaders of the Young Democrats then took over to recite the SDP’s pledge. YD President also read out a congratulatory
message from the International Federation Liberal Youth whose 3.5-million strong membership of youths spans across the globe.
The next item was pure eye-candy as four men paraded the party’s past uniforms in a Fashion Walk.
Mr Jufrie Mahmood wore the classic blue pants and white shirt, followed by Mr Gerald Sng who showed off a later version of the blue-and-white outfit with the red vest.
Mr Priveen then strutted the stage in rhythm to the background music wearing the more recent uniform of the blue polo-shirt and khaki trousers.
The Fashion Walk was capped off with Mr Teoh Tian Jing showing off the latest outfit of a red polo-shirt complemented by the earthy-khaki pants. Mr Teoh was no stranger to the catwalk as he was the winner of the Mr Singapore Universe pageant in 2006.
The programme took a more serious tone when Dr Chee gave his address. He spoke about the expansion of the party and called on friends and supporters to show even greater fervour in their support for the party.
Then came the highlight of the evening. As the lights dimmed and the ballroom hushed into silent expectation, the magazine was unveiled amidst the blaring of orchestral fanfare and strobe lights. The unveiling was greeted with enthusiastic applause befitting the stature of the smart-looking magazine.
Even before the applause subsided, waiters and waitresses marched in with complimentary copies to distribute to the guests.
The entire ballroom was transformed into a library look-alike where everyone’s eyes were glued to the pages of the magazine.
While our guests attention were transfixed on the magazine, the entire leadership of the party had quietly gone backstage to do a quick change into our uniform of red-and-khaki. And before the excitement could die down the leaders marched smartly back in to the ballroom with the YD in tow – the entrance announced by the majestic fanfare of trumpets.
Then the familiar refrain of Happy Birthday filled the hall as the birthday cake was brought on stage. The house joined in the singing: “Happy Birthday to SDP!” The words on the 10-kg, giant cake which was specially baked for the occasion declared: “SDP – 30 years and going strong.”
And as the candles were blown out, the party made a not-so-secret collective wish. As the flames on the cake flickered out, the flame of democracy continued to burn bright within the hearts of everyone present.
This was followed by the familiar popping of the champagne bottle and a round of toasts presented first by Assistant Secretary-General John Tan who thanked all our friends and supporters for their support and encouragement all through the years.
CEC member Ms Chee Siok Chin proposed the second, and more personal, toast. She held her glass up to our family members who have quietly but courageously stood by us through all the trials and tribulations. “Hear! Hear!” responded the leaders on stage.
The audience returned the compliments with Ms Harn Ho, Ms Mathia Lee, and Mr Alex Au, all toasting the SDP in return.
Ms Ho wished the Democrats well in the next elections while blogger Ms Lee thanked the SDP for supporting the NGO community. Mr Au was pleased to see the Young Democrats working hard and offered a toast to their political future.
The evening concluded on a high note that saw the leadership acknowledge the crowd by taking a final bow. The finale ended with a bang – literally – as canisters of streamers and confetti were exploded, enveloping the stage with a cascade of glitter.
It was a sight to behold and the audience responded with loud and enthusiastic applause.
As Dr Chee said in his address: “This is a celebration of the triumph of the spirit of the Singapore Democratic Party.
“It is the triumph of courage in the face of persecution, the triumph of grit and determination over adversity.”
It was a wonderful end to a great evening. To all of you who were present we hope that we have been as gracious a host as you have been wonderful guests and we look forward to many more such celebrations.
From all of us at the Singapore Democratic Party, we say a heartfelt thank you for helping us make our 30th birthday such a special and memorable occasion.
Like we said, it was a night to remember.
Watch the video of SDP’s 30th anniversary dinner here, more event photos here