SINGAPORE - The Marina Bay floating platform will be developed into a permanent space to commemorate national service, and become the primary venue for future National Day Parades.
The venue's seating capacity and platform will also be expanded, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday (Oct30).
It will be renamed NS Square, from its current name Float@Marina Bay, and feature a gallery that will showcase the history evolution of NS.
"Its permanence, and prominence, in Marina Bay, will reflect the central role national service plays in our lives," said PM Lee.
The new venue can be used for parades, as well as community events like arts performances, weekend markets, and the River Hongbao, said PM Lee, who spoke at a dinner reception for national servicemen to mark 50 years of NS.
In a statement, the Defence Ministry (Mindef) said the new NS Square will continue to be the venue for full-time national servicemen's graduation parades from basic military training. Parades for military units that complete their service will also be held there.
Details on the venue's expansion are still being finalised and will be announced later, Mindef added.
The floating platform, which has hosted multiple NDPs including this year's edition, can seat 27,000 spectators.
Monday's dinner was the culmination of a year-long series of events to celebrate NS50. Other Cabinet ministers present included Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam.
During his speech, PM Lee also paid tribute to the contributions of NSmen and said NS has kept Singapore safe.
"Your contributions and sacrifices have enabled Singaporeans to enjoy decades of peace, and a safe and secure home," said PM Lee, pointing out that more than a million Singaporeans have served NS since it began in 1967.
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, he said.
He pointed out at that the SAF, police and SCDF, all 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.
He recounted how the difficulty of convincing young men and their families that NS was "the only way to build up a defence force" when it began.
"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.