A Look Back: Desmond Fu, Singapore’s 57th NDP Commander

One year on, we catch up with Singapore’s 2022 National Day Parade Commander and NSman Desmond Fu on his National Day plans.

By Sean Yee        8 August 2023

When he was appointed the Reserve Parade Commander for the National Day Parade in 2021 , LTC (NS) Desmond Fu was understandably anxious. He had never commanded a parade of such a size, let alone gone through the necessary drills and ceremonial procedures that such a momentous occasion would demand. However, it was the then-imminent arrival of his family’s newest member that worried him.

“The first thing my wife and I did was look at the calendar as we worked out the details, such as childbirth and daycare arrangements,” he remarked. 

By the time 2022 rolled around, he had been promoted to become Singapore’s 57th NDP commander and the father of a seven-month old. 

Behind the scenes

Anyone that has partaken in the National Day preparations can understand how gruelling it can be. Rehearsals were tough, as contingents of participants repeatedly went through their movement drills, at times under blistering heat. Every moment of the parade had to be immaculately conducted, and nothing else other than perfection was acceptable in such a setting.  

Desmond not only took up the challenge but embraced it fully. He trained under the tutelage of experienced warrant officers who had extensive experience with the ceremonial process, emulating their refined mastery and confidence perfectly during the actual day. 

A military and finance veteran

Prior to his appointment, Desmond Fu already had an impressive military and professional portfolio. He had held a myriad of key leadership roles serving with the 328th Battalion of Combat Engineers which includes being its commanding officer (CO), while at the same time aiding President Halimah as her Honorary Aide-De-Camp (HADC) since 2018. He credits his 16-year (and counting) military journey to his fellow NS men, who inspired him to voluntarily extend the length of his service as they have.

Out of uniform, he is an investment professional who manages sizeable financial portfolios. To Desmond, his military and professional roles are not at odds, for the lessons he had learnt in NS have translated well in his current field in terms of resource allocation and people management. 

Adding fatherhood to the mix

For Desmond, his new family responsibilities were uncharted terrain, and when added to his existing NS and professional commitments, they became incredibly complex. Now the father of an adorable toddler, he has developed a newfound respect for fathers who juggle a whole array of responsibilities. 

While Desmond was out preparing for the parade, his wife and mother-in-law took care of his child. While he was issuing military commands on national television, his family looked after his daughter while she sat atop the spectator stand.

When life gives you lemons

Desmond (front row, 3rd from right) with his battalion command team

It can be said that Desmond has been training for his role as Parade Commander since his formative years in NS. To him, it was a time of both challenging and unique learning opportunities. In fact, Desmond’s best memories of NS stemmed from his most challenging times, which he described to be soaked in sweat and tears. 

“Serving NS to me is my way of giving back to the nation. As a father, it is an example I want to set, as by extension, the whole family serves one way or another,” he shares. 

Fast forward to 2023

Desmond (on right side of table, third from front) with his army buddies

Unlike the frenzy that came alongside his role last year, Desmond’s National Day celebration this year is much more intimate, and he prefers to keep it this way. 

“It’ll be with my NS buddies and their families. These have been my batch mates ever since my Officer Cadet days 20 years ago in 2004 when we were training together in the School of Combat Engineers,” he said. 

This year will prove especially symbolic for him as well, seeing that he has recently handed over the command of his battalion after five years of service. As the adage goes, every beginning has an end, and every end has a new beginning. And for Desmond, that means new endeavours, new challenges, and new priorities. He shares, “I have been adjusting to the increasing demands of my new role – the father of my toddler.”

Still, his passion for our country remains ever burning, driving him to constantly seek new ways to give back and contribute the best way he can. Not only is he a member of SAFRA’s Investment Committee, but he has continued his role as Aide-De-Camp (HADC) to the President, while still actively serving in the military as an NS commander. 

Looking back, his journey has been a heck of a ride. Rain or shine, good or bad, Desmond as well as many others have stood the test of time so that our lights stay bright, and our voices remain strong. And that’s why we celebrate National Day this year, and every other year – to remember the countless journeys of our nation’s defenders.

The journeys that keep us uniquely, us. Happy 58th Birthday, Singapore! 

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