SINGAPORE - Come Aug 9 next year (2017), The Float@Marina Bay will once again be awash in red and white.
It has been chosen as the venue for the nation's largest party, the annual National Day Parade (NDP), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed on Thursday (Aug 18) evening.
Speaking at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands, where an appreciation function to thank those who took part in NDP 2016 was held, Dr Ng said that this year's parade was a success.
"What about next year's NDP? Many have asked where we intend to hold it - in the National Stadium, floating platform or Padang? Each site has its unique charm and fans among Singaporeans... we have decided to hold NDP 2017 at the floating platform."
He also hinted that NDP 2018 could be held at the National Stadium. But added that wherever the NDP is held, the goal remains the same - to celebrate together as one people and one heart our nation's birthday and progress year after year.
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 grand old dame after a decade-long refurbishment. Since 2007, the Aug 9 bash has been held seven times at the floating platform and twice at the Padang.
While the 55,000-seater stadium allowed twice as many people - about 275,000 - to watch the parade, previews and rehearsals this year, many crowd favourites had to be forgone due to venue restrictions.
The Red Lions parachutists, for example, did not jump right in front of spectators inside the stadium. The convoy of war machines did not rumble past them, either, due to the design of the stadium.
So the return of NDP to The Float@ Marina Bay is expected to sit well with Singaporeans, many of whom also favour the unobstructed bay view. Holding the NDP there could be cheaper, too.
This year's NDP was mired in controversy due to its hefty price tag.
In March (2016), Dr Ng said in Parliament that the staging of NDP 2016 at the National Stadium is expected to cost $39.4 million, about double what it cost at the Marina Bay floating platform.
The reason for the steep rise is the rent of the dome-shaped venue at the Sports Hub. It will make up 15 per cent of the budget, more than three times the cost of using the floating platform or the Padang.
At $39.4 million, it is the second most costly NDP after last year's Golden Jubilee edition at the Padang, which cost $40.5 million. Previous NDPs at the floating platform cost between $15.7 million and $17.9 million. The 2010 edition at the Padang cost $20.6 million.
The organisers only managed to confirm the venue in December 2015, after protracted talks between the NDP organisers and the Singapore Sports Hub management over the cost of renting the venue.
The Sports Hub management had apparently asked for $26 million for an extra 35 days for rehearsals, a sum which far exceeded the usual budget of the NDP, which hovers between $17 million and $20 million. The Straits Times earlier reported that the figure has been lowered to $10 million, although the final sum agreed is not known.