Singtel’s National Day video doesn’t have celebrities or tear-jerker twists – but it still tugs at the heartstrings with 3 stories

From left: Dr Kumaran Rasappan, Shaza Ishak and Toh Wei Soong are the stars of Singtel’s National Day short film.
Singtel

National Day is often about the biggest, brightest and the best that Singapore has to offer, but this year, Singtel has chosen to highlight the lesser-known and more heartwarming stories of three Singaporeans.

The telecommunications giant unveiled on Friday (July 19) a new National Day tribute short film focused on three Singaporeans with dreams to give back to society in their own ways.

The three Singaporeans featured are: national para-swimmer Toh Wei Soong, Theatre Arts scholar and practitioner Shaza Ishak and orthopaedic surgeon and medical volunteer Dr Kumaran Rasappan.

In a statement, Singtel said the three were chosen for exemplifying “the Singaporean spirit of giving back”.

“Singapore is known for its progress and punching above its weight but we need to keep including and looking out for those who find themselves on the fringes of society,” Lian Pek, Singtel’s vice president for group strategic communications and brand said.

The 4-minute film follows the three personalities as they pursue their passions overseas and return home to their families in Singapore.

“As the nation marks its bicentennial, we also wanted to capture this growing sense of global citizenship and the shared understanding that Singaporeans – no matter where they are in the world, always know how it feels and what it means to come home,” Lian Pek added.

For the film, Singtel – which is also celebrating its 140th anniversary this year – specially commissioned a song performed by siblings Benjamin Kheng and Narelle Kheng from The Sam Willows titled “In Return”, which is composed by Ting Si Hao and penned by Marc Nair.

Unlike PUB’s Hari Raya video released in June, Singtel’s short film does not have any tear-jerker twists or dramatic storylines. There are also no international celebrities such as JJ Lin or Stefanie Sun to lend their star power.

What it does have, though, are the lesser-heard voices of three Singaporeans with a passion to do their best for their fellow countrymen.

Here’s a look at the stars of Singtel’s National Day film, and the stories they have to tell:

Toh Wei Soong

SPH

A gold medallist at this year’s World Para Swimming World Series, 21-year-old Toh started swimming competitively at age 14.

Diagnosed with transverse myelitis – a condition caused by inflammation of the spinal cord – when he was two, Toh was also a two-time gold medallist at the Asian Para Games and a bronze medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Part of his dream is to represent Singapore at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

“Being a para-swimmer in Singapore, I realise I have a chance to speak out for a lot of people who aren’t sure what they want to do in life,” he says. “My dream is to bring this message of inclusion and positivity to people.”

Shaza Ishak

The Straits Times

A familiar face in the local theatre scene, Shaza is currently based in the UK, where she is working toward obtaining a Masters in Creative Producing.

The National Arts Council postgraduate scholar plans to return to her role as company director of Teater Ekamatra when she returns.

With theatre as her avenue, Shaza, 30, aims to champion the voices of her ethnic minority community.

“Multiracial harmony is a lot of work and we need to keep at it. We need to hear voices from all parts of society and the medium of theatre is a good way of getting these voices heard,” she says.

Dr Kumaran Rasappan

The Straits Times

You may have seen Dr Kumaran Rasappan’s photos in the press in 2012, when he took on Mount Everest and raised over S$40,000 for Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Community Charity Fund.

His time in Nepal inspired him to create Project Aasha, which is focused on bringing medical volunteers to remote Himalayan villages.

His goal, he says, is to encourage more people to become volunteers at home and abroad.

“There are a lot of people in Singapore who require help…We mustn’t always think we have to go overseas to help out some other population which is more needy. We can start first in our own community,” he says.

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