NDP 2017 returns to Marina Bay floating platform

The Float@Marina Bay has hosted Singapore's birthday bash seven times since 2007, as well as numerous other social and sporting events, including New Year countdowns and the Youth Olympic Games in 2010. But it may need some upgrading to be used for f
The Float@Marina Bay has hosted Singapore's birthday bash seven times since 2007, as well as numerous other social and sporting events, including New Year countdowns and the Youth Olympic Games in 2010. But it may need some upgrading to be used for future events.ST FILE PHOTO

Site allows air, land and sea elements, and has become a favourite venue for some, says minister

The floating platform at Marina Bay will be awash in red and white next Aug 9, when it will once again play host to the nation's biggest party.

Although The Float@Marina Bay was built as a temporary site for the National Day Parade (NDP) while the new National Stadium was being built, it has over the years become a favourite of some Singaporeans, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

It is possible that the parade will return to the stadium, this year's venue, in 2018.

In the meantime, however, the floating platform has made for a stunning stage, hosting Singapore's birthday bash seven times since 2007. The other two parades were at the Padang.

Dr Ng said: "It is the only place where you can have air, land and sea (elements)... I don't think there's any site in the world where we can have this."

He added: "We've decided to hold NDP2017 there, at the floating platform, because of all I've said but also for a very important reason: We should do it there while it is still available, because it was not meant to be a permanent site."

 
 

Speaking at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands, at a function to thank participants of this year's NDP, Dr Ng said he was unsure of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) plans for the area, but added: "While it is still there, while it is young - relatively young - we should do it."

Plans to build the floating platform as a temporary venue for the NDP until the new National Stadium was ready were announced by the Government in 2005.

The first parade on water was held in 2007 and, since then, the venue has hosted numerous other social and sporting events, including New Year countdowns and the Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

While an eye-catching venue with a great location, the floating platform may need some upgrading to be used for future events.

During NDP 2014, the last time the parade was held there, sources had said the float could probably be used for another five to seven years, with some refurbishments.

Dr Ng's announcement comes just over a week after Singapore held its 51st birthday bash at the National Stadium - marking a return to the venue after a decade-long refurbishment.

He said yesterday: "In 2018, Mindef (Ministry of Defence) and the Singapore Armed Forces would like to hold the NDP again at the stadium."

But he noted that, wherever the NDP is held, the goal remains the same - to celebrate together as one people, with one heart, on the nation's birthday.

While the 55,000-seat National Stadium allowed twice as many people - about 275,000 - to watch the rehearsals, previews and parade itself this year, many crowd favourites, such as the Red Lions skydivers and a mobile column of military equipment, had to be forgone because of safety and other venue restrictions.

Mr Humphrey Tan, 31, went to this year's NDP but prefers the floating platform with its unobstructed view of the sky. "This year's show was all right but I prefer to see tanks and fire engines," said the chemical engineer.

Holding the NDP there could be cheaper, too. This year's event attracted some controversy because of its hefty price tag of an estimated $39.4 million - about double the price of using the Marina Bay floating platform - mainly from the cost of renting the dome-shaped venue at the Sports Hub.

Cafe manager Pearlyn Yap, 28, who has attended and performed at events at both venues, said: "If cost is an issue, I don't see why the floating platform is a bad idea - the Red Lions' segment is a crowd favourite and a lot more people (other than those who get tickets) go to the bay area to picnic and enjoy the fireworks and sea elements of the parade."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2016, with the headline 'NDP 2017 returns to floating platform'. Print Edition | Subscribe