NDP 2019: Stand By for Singapore

On Duty:(from left) Deputy Director Electrical Operations, Chong Hoi Fye, Technical Officer Mohammad Hussaini Bin Rahmat, Technical Officer Hirman Bin Ali, Senior Engineer Lee Yong Ta, Principal Engineer Lau Zhi Wei, Senior Engineer Aidir Bin Jamil, and Director Electrical Operations, Cedric Lee.

As F16s roar past their Hougang flat in tight formation during Saturday’s National Day Parade preview, two-and-a-half-year-old Brandon points and squeals.

The countdown to Singapore’s party of the year has begun. This year’s celebration is especially significant due to Singapore’s bicentennial – and the toddler knows that daddy Lee Yong Ta will be brightening part of the celebrations.

Yong Ta, Senior Engineer of Electricity Operations, heads SP Group’s National Day Parade (NDP) standby crew. His team of 28 has been on Parade duty in groups of four at all rehearsals.

“When Brandon sees me donning my red T-shirt, he knows I am going to work near the planes,” says the 37-year-old, who has been with SP’s Distribution Network South (DNS) for four years.

This year, the Parade, themed “Our Singapore”, returns to the Padang for the first time since SG50 in 2015. It will involve some 15,000 participants, volunteers and personnel. For Team SP, work has been underway since end of last year to keep the electricity network and supply in top form during the celebration. 

Much of the on-field action is supported by mobile generators. The spectator stands along National Gallery Singapore (NGS) are supported by the nearby substation. Other substations keep supply to the vicinity steady. 

Yong Ta was the number two-man in SP’s team at last year’s Parade. This is not unfamiliar terrain as he has overseen support for events like the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. 

“I love National Day. I’ve watched NDPs with my parents since I was young, and now my wife and son join us. As an engineer and member of SP, I am glad to play a part in Singapore’s success story,” says Yong Ta.

The job requires close coordination with the NDP committee, NGS personnel and  various SP teams. This could include corresponding on matters related to security, electricity network stability and equipment health, along with numerous pre-event checks.

There’s never too much planning for a national event. The team’s experience in power equipment and the network helps them consider various scenarios and contingencies.
“We’ve done checks on electrical cables and earthworks in the area. We’ve also inspected all substations and tested the remote switching of all circuit breakers,” he says, working through his mental checklist.

The day before the main event, his team will also do security sweeps of the substations in the area, together with the police.

And on August 9th itself, Yong Ta and seven others will be based at the NGS until the last spectator leaves, with additional men on standby in the vicinity as well.

And while Yong Ta will not be next to Brandon as the planes zoom by, he and his little boy will both be flying Singapore’s flag with pride.

Months of preparation and many hands on deck ensure the party of the year stays bright.

— 1 August 2019

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