Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Marina Bay floating platform to be renamed NS Square, be primary venue for National Day Parades

Marina Bay site will be expanded and become primary NDP venue, with new gallery on National Service
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 31 Oct 2017

The temporary floating platform at Marina Bay will be developed into a permanent space to commemorate national service as well as be the primary venue for future National Day Parades (NDPs).

The platform will be expanded and more seats added, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Its current name, Float@Marina Bay, will be changed to NS Square, with a gallery that will showcase the evolution of NS.


"Its permanence and prominence in Marina Bay will reflect the central role that national service plays in our lives," said PM Lee.


The new venue can be used for parades, as well as community events such as arts performances, weekend markets and the River Hongbao, the Prime Minister said at a dinner reception for national servicemen to mark 50 years of NS.




The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a statement that the new NS Square will continue to be the venue for basic military training graduation parades. Parades for military units that complete their operationally ready national service will also be held there.


Details on its expansion are being finalised and will be announced later, MINDEF added.


The floating platform - which has hosted seven NDPs since 2007, including this year's edition - is a crowd favourite, as it is set against the backdrop of the city skyline and offers the public multiple vantage points to enjoy the fireworks. Built initially as a temporary NDP venue while the new National Stadium was under construction, the floating platform can seat 27,000 spectators.




Yesterday's dinner was the culmination of a year-long series of events to celebrate NS50. It was attended by 1,500 guests, including operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), full-time national servicemen (NSFs), employers and Cabinet ministers such as Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.


PM Lee, in his speech, paid tribute to servicemen and dwelt on the importance of NS in keeping Singapore safe. "Your contributions and sacrifices have enabled Singaporeans to enjoy decades of peace, and a safe and secure home," he said, noting that more than a million Singaporeans have served NS since it began in 1967.


He also said 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. All three - the SAF, police and SCDF - 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.


PM Lee recounted the difficulty of convincing young men and their families in the early years of NS that conscription was "the only way to build up a defence force".

"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.

National servicemen told The Straits Times that the symbolic gesture of renaming the floating platform, a landmark in the heart of the city, would cement the importance of NS in the minds of Singaporeans.

Deputy Superintendent (NS) Mohammed Nazly Mohammed Taha said: "It will motivate our younger generation to think about what NS means to them."






























PM Lee was 'a humble officer with no airs'
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 31 Oct 2017

It is often said that national service is where young Singaporean men form bonds that last for life.

For the men who served with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the artillery decades ago, he was a humble officer with no airs, who had a taste for mee siam and kambing soup.

Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret) Tan Seng Poh, 65, remembered how he and other officers would go for supper with PM Lee at the old Chong Pang Village after strenuous training. "He had no airs, he was always very sociable."

He was among several of PM Lee's former army buddies who related their experience serving with him in the 70s and 80s, during an NS50 dinner reception yesterday.



Senior Warrant Officer (Ret) Lau Peck Woh, 63, said PM Lee was an officer who had the welfare of his men at heart.

He recounted how PM Lee, then a platoon commander in 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery, once noticed that the soles of his men's shoes had split and hung "open like crocodiles". He asked SWO Lau, his then platoon sergeant, why this was so.

The men kept missing the dates to exchange their kit because they were always out in the field for exercises, SWO Lau replied. This led PM Lee to arrange with the unit's quartermaster for new gear.

"In less than one week's time, all of us had exchanged our shoes for new kit," said SWO Lau. "When (PM Lee) was around, the morale of the men was very high."

During his speech yesterday, PM Lee said he was happy that he could meet some of his old artillery comrades.

He pointed out that he would bump into old army friends from time to time in public, and they would catch up. "The years would melt away and vivid memories come flooding back," he said.






























Book tracing Home Team's 50 years of National Service history launched
Commemorative tome will be given to NSFs, schools, libraries
By Tan Tam Mei, The Straits Times, 4 Nov 2017

When he makes his rounds at the dormitories in Woodlands East, Special Constable Corporal Nabel Al Masri, 23, is welcomed by crowds of Bangladeshi workers.

The full-time national serviceman's fluency in Bengali has not only made him popular among the workers, it has helped bridge the communication gap between the workers and law enforcement.

As a result, Woodlands East Neighbourhood Police Centre, where he works, has seen more workers come forward to seek help.

"Sometimes, they share problems not related to crime and it is meaningful that I am able to help then," said Cpl Nabel recalling an occasion when he helped about 20 workers facing employment-related issues file a police report.

The officer from the Community Policing Unit came to Singapore from Bangladesh with his parents when he was one, and became a citizen in 2005. "I see the language as an asset, and it gives me an advantage to help others," he said.

Cpl Nabel's story is just one of many in the Home Team NS50 Commemorative Book - Everyday Guardians: 50 Years Of National Service In Singapore's Home Team - launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a dinner reception at the Istana yesterday.



The dinner was held to round off the year-long Home Team NS50 celebrations. Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Josephine Teo, and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli were also present.

Written by Mr Koh Buck Song, the book traces the evolution of NS in the Home Team. It will be distributed to Home Team full-time national servicemen (NSFs), schools and public libraries.

Over 900 Home Team NSFs, NS pioneers and their families were at the dinner at the Istana Lawn.



PM Lee also presented the NSF of the Year award to 10 men from the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for outstanding performance and conduct during NS.

Sergeant (NS) Danial Matin Zaini, 21, received the award for his service as a field instructor to the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps during his time with the SCDF. He taught cadets skills such as fire safety and first aid.

The undergraduate, who reached his operationally ready date (ORD) in March, said his experience with the cadets has helped him to hone his teaching skills .

"I was inspired to be a teacher by the good teachers I had in secondary school," he said.

Another award recipient, Inspector (NS) Billy Lian, 22, whose ORD was in June, served as an event security officer. The executive in a trading firm helped to plan and execute key events last year, such as the funeral of former president S R Nathan and the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix.



In a Facebook post last night, PM Lee thanked all Home Team members. He wrote: "Beyond rewards and recognition, what is truly priceless is your contribution to keeping our home safe and secure.





























*  Project to redevelop Marina Bay floating platform awarded to Woha Architects, construction to start in 2022
Woha Architects to lead team to develop and implement the design of NS Square
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 16 Jul 2020

The project to redevelop the Marina Bay floating platform into a permanent space for large-scale national events has been awarded to a consultant team led by Woha Architects.

Redevelopment work on NS Square, as the space is called, is scheduled to start in March 2022 and be completed by the end of 2025, said the Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Defence in a joint statement yesterday.

Woha was selected to act as the principal consultant following a design consultancy tender held from May last year to July this year.

It will lead a team to develop and implement the design for the redevelopment.



The joint statement said: "Creating a liveable and people-centred city for all Singaporeans is a key part of Singapore's long-term urban development plans.

"In this regard, the redevelopment of The Float @ Marina Bay remains a part of these plans to enhance the vibrancy of the city centre and to create public spaces where the community can come together."

Initially built as a temporary National Day Parade (NDP) venue while the new National Stadium was under construction, The Float @ Marina Bay can seat 27,000 spectators and has hosted the event nine times since 2007, most recently in 2018.

The platform has also been the venue for numerous events over the years, such as New Year countdown celebrations, River Hongbao and basic military training graduation parades.

It was due to hold two more NDPs - this year's and the next - before being demolished, but this year's NDP will be held at multiple locations instead due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Among the requirements for this NS Square project was for the new platform to have a seating capacity of 30,000 to 35,000.



Although redevelopment is planned to start in 2022, the project scope and timeline may be adjusted due to the impact of Covid-19.

"More details on the project will be shared with the public when ready," said the statement.

A tender evaluation panel had assessed that Woha's concept design proposal, in collaboration with design firm Populous, best fulfilled the objectives of "creating an exciting and accessible community space in the heart of the city, and responded appropriately to the context of Marina Bay with a compelling vision and narrative", said the two ministries.

They added that the design will make use of the site's waterfront location to create a "distinctive, fit-for-purpose and flexible" events venue for different scales and types of events.

It will have community sports facilities, such as a swimming pool and water sports centre, as well as a new waterfront promenade that will improve pedestrian connectivity in the area, forming a loop round Marina Bay.

There will also be a national service-themed gallery, with a mix of open and enclosed spaces, to acknowledge the contributions of national servicemen. It will showcase stories of servicemen from the Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team through various multimedia platforms and hardware displays.



Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced in 2017 that the temporary floating platform at Marina Bay would be developed into a permanent space to commemorate national service, as well as to serve as the primary venue for future NDPs.

Woha's founding director Wong Mun Summ said of the project: "Our team is honoured with this opportunity to re-imagine the floating platform as a permanent distinctive venue at the Marina Bay waterfront."










**  Upcoming NS Square at Marina Bay will be 'central focus' of new downtown, says PM Lee
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 10 Aug 2020

A permanent space for large-scale events that will also pay tribute to Singapore's national servicemen will take the place of the popular Marina Bay floating platform and will be the central focus of the new downtown area, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day message yesterday.

The upcoming NS Square, due to be completed by end-2025, will continue to host future National Day Parades, said PM Lee in his televised National Day message before this year's parade at the Padang, a smaller-scale event held in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

PM Lee yesterday unveiled the NS Square's design for the first time. Its grandstand seating can hold up to 30,000 people, compared with the current capacity of 27,000 at The Float @ Marina Bay.


There will be a gallery, with a mix of open and enclosed spaces, to honour the contributions of national servicemen past and present.


It will also feature community sports facilities, such as a swimming pool and water sports centre, as well as a new waterfront promenade that will improve pedestrian connectivity in the area, forming a loop around Marina Bay.




NS Square will also be a community space for everyone, young and old, to enjoy, he said.

"The platform will become a red dot, shining bright in our city. NS Square will be the central focus of our new downtown," said PM Lee.


"And of course, we will continue to hold our National Day Parades there," he added.


Last month, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) jointly announced that the NS Square project had been awarded to a consultant team led by Woha Architects.

The Singapore-based firm was selected to act as the principal consultant following a design consultancy tender held from May last year to July this year.


Yesterday, the two ministries said that a tiered, curved seating area will wrap around the stage "to provide an uninterrupted line-of-sight to the stage from all angles as well as bring spectators closer to the 'action' ".


Other than NDP, the space could also be configured for events of different scales and types, such as concerts, performances, sporting activities and competitions, they said.


A lower promenade area will be open all year round, with supporting food and beverage outlets and retail outlets being considered for the new development.


Redevelopment work is scheduled to start in March 2022, although the project scope and timeline may be adjusted due to the impact of Covid-19.




Initially built as a temporary National Day Parade venue while the new National Stadium was under construction, The Float @ Marina Bay has hosted the event nine times since 2007, and was due to do so this year, before the coronavirus outbreak made it unfeasible.

In 2017 - the 50th year of national service in Singapore - PM Lee announced that the floating platform would be redeveloped into a permanent space.


He noted that national service recruits currently hold their passing out parade at the floating platform, and this helps them to understand what they are defending, and why generations of national servicemen have been willing to serve and sacrifice.


PM Lee said: "Every National Day, we remind ourselves that Singapore is a nation whose story is worth celebrating, whose history is worth cherishing, and whose future is worth building."


When the NDP is held at the Padang, or at the floating platform, the audience can see the Marina Bay skyline in the background, he said.


Marina Bay used to be open sea, but the land around it was reclaimed, and it was turned into a reservoir.


"Looking out across the Bay, you can immediately see how far Singapore has come, and imagine the possibility and promise that Singapore holds," he added.




MND and MINDEF said the development will take advantage of the site's waterfront location, and will allow activities such as dragon boating, canoeing and kayaking, in addition to having a swimming pool and water play areas open to the public.

"(The water sports) facility, part of a larger network of water sports facilities around Marina Reservoir, will provide the community with greater access to water-based recreational options in central Singapore," added the ministries.





Related
PM Lee: Continue Passing the Baton of National Defence, From One Generation to the Next
PM Lee Hsien Loong's speech at the NS50 Dinner Reception
NS50 celebrations to commemorate 50 years of National Service launched

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