NDP 2023 to be held at the Padang: Ng Eng Hen

Next year's National Day Parade (NDP) will be held at the Padang, and this year's parade will be the last to be held at the Marina Bay floating platform, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

He told reporters after an NDP rehearsal that he hopes subsequent NDPs will be held at the National Stadium, before the permanent NS Square - which will replace the floating platform - is ready by the end of 2026.

"For next year, we're going to do it at the Padang. Following that, I would like to do it at the National Stadium. Now that the management is more predictable and stabilised, I think we would be able to do it," said Dr Ng. "So I look forward to many more NDPs that Singaporeans can celebrate together."

Redevelopment works for the permanent NS Square are scheduled to start next March.

The floating platform was built in 2007 as an interim NDP site while the National Stadium was undergoing construction.

It has since become a popular NDP venue for its waterfront views and its ability to incorporate air, land and sea elements.

Dr Ng said: "I must say I'm very nostalgic about the floating platform. If you look at it, it is a heaven's dream for any show producer… to be able to mount Chinook (helicopters), fighters and divers. I don't think you can ask for a better location."

Besides NDPs, the floating platform has hosted numerous other mass events, such as basic military training graduation parades, countdown parties and River Hongbao celebrations. The last NDP to be held at the Padang was in 2019, while the National Stadium last hosted the parade in 2016.

Last month, the Government announced that the Sports Hub, which includes the National Stadium, will be owned and managed by national agency Sport Singapore from December.

The stadium and its surrounding facilities have been managed by a private consortium, SportsHub Pte Ltd, since it opened in 2014.

Yesterday's rehearsal was attended by a crowd that was close to full capacity. It was the second National Education Show this year for Primary 5 pupils. Amid a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the minister said that the parade was "fully on track" to go on, as the number of cases was stabilising.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said last week that Singapore was near, if not already at, the peak of the current wave of Covid-19 infections.

Dr Ng said the NDP show, which is focused on how Singaporeans tackled the pandemic and emerged stronger from it, was for Singaporeans to build on, reflect and celebrate together.

"I think all Singaporeans will identify with what we've gone through in the pandemic and how we've come out stronger together," he said.

Asked about heartland celebrations this year, Dr Ng said the pandemic in the past two years meant that it was not possible to have full-scale shows, and this resulted in the NDP moving to the heartland.

"I'd like to continue to keep this - Red Lions (parachutists) or fighter fly-pasts - so that we can reach out and celebrate National Day with more Singaporeans," he said.

This year, heartland celebrations are expected over the weekend of Aug 6 to 7 at five locations.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 10, 2022, with the headline NDP 2023 to be held at the Padang: Ng Eng Hen. Subscribe