SINGAPORE: The Marina Bay floating platform will be redeveloped into a permanent space that commemorates National Service (NS), announced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Oct 30).
It will be renamed NS Square, and will serve as the primary venue for the National Day Parade.
“We will extend the platform to open up a larger and more accessible space, and increase the current seating capacity so that more Singaporeans can join in the parade,” said Mr Lee at a dinner reception held at the floating platform to mark 50 years of National Service.
“Its permanence and prominence in Marina Bay will reflect the central role National Service plays in our lives.”
The Prime Minister added that below the grandstand, there will be a “purpose-built” gallery to showcase Singapore’s NS journey and highlight the contributions of generations of National Servicemen.
“I hope the gallery will inspire future generations of NSmen to take over the torch with pride,” said Mr Lee.
The platform, also known as The Float @ Marina Bay, was built in 2007 as a temporary stage while the National Stadium was being reconstructed.
Apart from hosting National Day parades, Mr Lee said that the revamped floating platform could also be used for regular community events like arts performances, weekend markets and the River Hongbao celebration during Chinese New Year.
PAYING TRIBUTE TO NSMEN PAST AND PRESENT
The appreciation dinner on Monday is the culmination of year-long events to mark 50 years of NS.
Mr Lee noted that since 1967, more than one million Singaporeans have served NS in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and in the Home Team.
“Your contributions and sacrifices have enabled Singaporeans to enjoy decades of peace, and a safe and secure home.
“We have had the good fortune not to fight a war in the last 50 years, but that is not just a matter of luck. Our deterrence is credible, and it has worked,” Mr Lee said. "The SAF is taken seriously, it is well-trained, well-equipped and technologically up to date."
As for the Home Team, Mr Lee noted that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) have continued to keep Singaporeans safe from threats.
“The terrorist threat is a grave one, but our security forces are vigilant and prepared to deal with an attack when it comes,” he said. “And without NSFs and NSmen who serve willingly, take their training seriously, and perform operational duties day after day, the SAF, SPF and SCDF would not exist.”
Singapore is much better defended now than when it started out 50 years ago, Mr Lee said, adding that because of the peace and security here, businesses are prepared to invest for the long term, and that Singaporeans and foreigners alike are happy to work and raise their families here.
He added, however, that educating the new generation on the importance of NS remains critical, especially as “the younger generations have only ever known stability and peace”.
“We will always be a small country, and National Service will always be the cornerstone of our defence," Mr Lee told the audience.
"Even as we continue to ask this commitment of our young men, we must rally behind them as a society, support them and express our appreciation for their service."