Different appeal of NDP venues

A week after the National Day Parade (NDP), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen had another present for the nation - news that next year's birthday bash will return to the Marina Bay floating platform, which many assumed had been retired.

There were cheers as the platform, originally meant to be temporary, has become something of a crowd favourite. It would also mean the comeback of the Red Lions skydivers and the mobile column of military might, missing at this year's parade because of venue restrictions at the new National Stadium.

Since the old stadium closed in 2007 so the new one could be built, the Aug 9 bash has been held seven times at the floating platform and twice at the Padang - and both venues, as well as the new National Stadium, have their own fans.

The Padang, where Singapore's first parade was held in 1966, is historically significant. As for the National Stadium, Singaporeans like information technology project manager Ravi Chandran, 48, say having the NDP there gives more people the chance to catch the parade live because of its sheer size.

Many others like The Float @ Marina Bay for its spectacular views of the bay and city skyline.

The view was not always this stunning. When it was first built as a temporary location for the NDP in 2007, it had a construction site (now the Marina Bay Sands) as a backdrop. So, in a way, the floating platform provided a vantage point from which Singaporeans have watched their little red dot grow - from a work in progress to a city that glitters on the world map.

Its long-term fate is uncertain. Dr Ng said NDP 2017 should be held there while it "is still available, because it was not meant to be a permanent site".

Refurbishments will need to be made, but why shouldn't it be permanent, or at least have its lifespan extended indefinitely?

It is different strokes for different folks when it comes to Singaporeans' preferred choice of NDP venue. But in having all three venues available for the parade, the annual birthday bash could be one that all can look forward to year after year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Different appeal of NDP venues'. Print Edition | Subscribe