The temporary floating platform at Marina Bay will be developed into a permanent space to commemorate national service as well as be the primary venue for future National Day Parades (NDPs).
The platform will be expanded and more seats added, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
Its current name, Float@Marina Bay, will be changed to NS Square, with a gallery that will showcase the evolution of NS.
"Its permanence and prominence in Marina Bay will reflect the central role that national service plays in our lives," said PM Lee.
The new venue can be used for parades, as well as community events such as arts performances, weekend markets and the River Hongbao, the Prime Minister said at a dinner reception for national servicemen to mark 50 years of NS.
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement that the new NS Square will continue to be the venue for basic military training graduation parades. Parades for military units that complete their operationally ready national service will also be held there.
Details on its expansion are being finalised and will be announced later, Mindef added.
The floating platform - which has hosted seven NDPs since 2007, including this year's edition - is a crowd favourite, as it is set against the backdrop of the city skyline and offers the public multiple vantage points to enjoy the fireworks. Built initially as a temporary NDP venue while the new National Stadium was under construction, the floating platform can seat 27,000 spectators.
Yesterday's dinner was the culmination of a year-long series of events to celebrate NS50. It was attended by 1,500 guests, including operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), full-time national servicemen (NSFs), employers and Cabinet ministers such as Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.
PM Lee, in his speech, paid tribute to servicemen and dwelt on the importance of NS in keeping Singapore safe. "Your contributions and sacrifices have enabled Singaporeans to enjoy decades of peace, and a safe and secure home," he said, noting that more than a million Singaporeans have served NS since it began in 1967.
He also said the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is a credible defence force that is taken seriously, while the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) continue to keep Singapore safe. All three - the SAF, police and SCDF - depend on a mix of regulars, NSFs and NSmen.
"Without NSFs and NSmen who serve willingly, take their training seriously and perform operational duties day after day, the SAF, SPF and SCDF could not exist," he said.
PM Lee recounted the difficulty of convincing young men and their families in the early years of NS that conscription was "the only way to build up a defence force".
"Fortunately, Singaporeans understood the urgency and gave their support. Over the years, Singaporeans have accepted national service. It's become a national institution, a rite of passage," he said.
National servicemen told The Straits Times that the symbolic gesture of renaming the floating platform, a landmark in the heart of the city, would cement the importance of NS in the minds of Singaporeans.
Deputy Superintendent (NS) Mohammed Nazly Mohammed Taha said: "It will motivate our younger generation to think about what NS means to them."