SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - The fact that the floating platform at Marina Bay is now the main venue for the annual National Day Parade (NDP) should be seen as a plus for Singapore, says the Singapore Sports Hub's acting CEO Oon Jin Teik.
Even though the Sports Hub in Kallang is home to the country's largest arena - the 55,000-seater National Stadium - the government announced in October that the Marina Bay platform would be refurbished and become the primary venue for the NDP.
The platform - which opened in 2007 and can seat up to 30,000 people - will also be renamed "NS Square", and be a permanent space that commemorates national service.
"I'm 100 per cent supportive of the decision (to have the NDP at the floating platform)," said Mr Oon in an interview with The Business Times, adding that the door remains open should the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) decide to bring the parade back to the Sports Hub in the future.
"We now have the National Stadium and the floating platform, and these are two world-class venues that are able to go out and compete in the world (to host events). Instead of being limited to just one option, we have both," he said.
Mr Oon was the CEO of the Singapore Sports Council (now known as Sport Singapore) at the time when the government first decided to construct the open-air platform, which is the world's largest floating stage.
The original idea was to use it as a temporary venue for the NDP during the time when the old National Stadium was torn down and reconstructed.
The stadium opened in June 2014 and has since hosted the NDP once, in 2016. At a cost of S$39.4 million, it was one of the more expensive parades in recent years, partly due to the rental fees charged by the Sports Hub.
Previous NDPs at the floating platform cost between S$15.7 million and S$17.9 million to stage. The 2015 NDP at the Padang, during Singapore's golden jubilee celebrations, cost S$40.5 million.
The 2016 NDP at the National Stadium drew mixed reactions from spectators, as traditional crowd favourites such as the Red Lions skydivers could not be featured due to safety reasons.
Others, however, appreciated that more people had the opportunity to experience the parade "live" because of the greater seating capacity.
Mr Oon said that during those years when the NDP is not held at the National Stadium, the venue can be used for various concerts and sporting events during the popular June to August period.
The International Champions Cup, an annual football tournament featuring Europe's most famous teams, has a four-year deal to stage games at the National Stadium from 2017 to 2020. These matches usually take place in the later part of July.
Mr Oon remains hopeful that the NDP can return to the National Stadium in the future, although the earliest is likely to be 2021.
"We will stay very open, and we will work with Mindef as and when they are ready. We had a fun time in 2016, when they brought the NDP (to the Sports Hub). I believe they also went away happy in the end," he said.