NDP 2021: Celebrating 10th NDP at the Marina Bay floating platform

The floating platform at Marina Bay is able to incorporate air, land, and sea elements. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The National Day Parade (NDP) on Saturday (Aug 21) celebrated the 10th time it was held at the Marina Bay floating platform.

A tribute video to the platform, which was built as a temporary stage, was shown during the NDP show.

Mr Teo Jing Siong, chairman of the first NDP to be held there in 2007, spoke of having to convince naysayers at the time that the platform was stable enough to hold the parade.

Redevelopment works for the permanent NS Square, which will replace it, is scheduled to start in March next year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in his National Day message last year that NS Square - due to be completed by end-2025 - would be the central focus of the new downtown area.

The floating platform was first built in 2007. Other than NDPs, it has hosted numerous other mass events, such as basic military training graduation parades, countdown parties and River Hongbao celebrations.

A popular NDP venue among many parade-goers for its waterfront views, it is able to incorporate air, land, and sea elements. For instance, navy ships were part of a counter-terrorism demonstration during NDP 2017.

Initially planned as an interim NDP site while the new National Stadium was under construction, the stage became the venue for the NDP every year between its creation and 2014, except for 2010, when the NDP was held at the Padang.

Yet, when the dream of a parade over water was first floated in 2004 by Mr Teo, who was then the army's chief engineer officer, several civil servants thought he had lost his mind.

On Saturday, he said the structure was initially met with opposition.

He said: "When we started the floating platform, there were none like this in the world and we were the first to do it. A lot of people believed that it could not be done."

But the plan took off despite suggestions of other viable sites for the NDP, such as the Jalan Besar Stadium, the Turf Club at Kranji, or the field in Marina South where Gardens by the Bay now is.

Amid scepticism, then Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean and defence chief Ng Yat Chung gave the green light.

Together with urban planners and sports administrators from the then Singapore Sports Council, defence engineers and Sembcorp Marine's shipbuilders, the army designed and built the platform in two years.

Hailed as the world's largest floating platform when it first opened, the 120m long and 83m wide structure is 5 per cent larger than a football field.

It can hold up to 7,000 people, or 200 tonnes, without wobbling or vibrating.

A photo from Aug 9, 2018, shows spectators during the National Day Parade at the floating platform in Marina Bay. PHOTO: ST FILE

From NDP rehearsals attended by eager Primary 5 pupils to concerts framed by the Singapore skyline, the stage soon became a familiar backdrop for the Singaporean spectator.

In 2017, PM Lee announced that the platform would be redeveloped and renamed as the new NS Square to serve as the main venue for the NDP.

In July last year, the project to redevelop the platform into a permanent space was awarded to a consultant team led by Woha Architects.

When ready, the new space will seat between 30,000 and 35,000 spectators, up from 27,000 at the floating platform. It will feature a gallery to national servicemen, community sports facilities, and a new public waterfront promenade.

It will also serve as the grounds for basic military training graduation parades and parades for military units that complete their operationally ready national service.

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