More seats up for grabs at biggest NDP, to mark SG50

More seats up for grabs at biggest NDP, to mark SG50
The main show will be at the Padang, where the first NDP was held in 1966 (above). This year's action will include a vintage section featuring pioneers and a mobile column with war machines.

This year's National Day Parade (NDP) will not only be the biggest, with plans to stage two shows, but there will also be twice the number of spectator seats for the ever-popular ceremony.

The main show will be at the Padang, where the first NDP was held in 1966, and it will be coupled with a bayside show at The Float @ Marina Bay.

Together, the venues will double the number of seats that will be up for grabs for Singaporeans and permanent residents.

Besides the 26,000 seats at the Padang, people can also choose to ballot for the 25,000 seats at the floating platform to catch the NDP action.

All in, Marina Bay will be turned into a giant party zone for more than 150,000 revellers at Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay, among other places in the area, to enjoy the Aug 9 show, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament yesterday.

Noting that parade organisers get many requests and suggestions every year, Dr Ng said: "One of them I feel is particularly important for us to try to accede to... Allow as many Singaporeans as possible to share in this historic 50th NDP because the next golden jubilee will be 2065."

As part of this year's birthday bash, every Singaporean and permanent resident household - about 1.2 million in all - will each receive a fun pack, said Dr Ng.

"So even if they can't come to Padang or the areas around the bay... they can watch at home, wave the same banner, slap the same clappers all over the island."

Spectators at the floating platform and those by the bay will be able to catch - via giant LED screens - the live action at the Padang, which will include a vintage section featuring pioneers and a mobile column involving more than 160 war machines.

The air force and navy will also strut their stuff.

Fifty Republic of Singapore Air Force warplanes will criss-cross the sky in an aerial display and also form the number 50 in the air.

Eight naval vessels, double the number in previous years, will put up a show of force in the Marina Bay waters. The fireworks show will be more spectacular than any in NDP history.

Brigadier-General Melvyn Ong Su Kiat, who will be in charge of coordinating the extravaganza, said the jubilee show will be a nostalgic one to "remember our roots" and to look to our future, reminding everyone that they "can be a pioneer of tomorrow".

All in, the NDP celebrations in additional party venues and the fun packs will cost about $50 million, more than twice the cost of staging previous NDPs.

The theme of the Aug 9 show is Majulah Singapura, the title of the National Anthem, which in Malay means "onward Singapore".

Noting that the theme was a "rallying call" back then to all Singaporeans to move forward as one people to overcome the challenges, Dr Ng said: "And we have succeeded."

Paying tribute to the pioneers, he said they had to go through three "bitter periods" - the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s, Konfrontasi in the 1960s, and the fight against the communists.

"Just one challenge would have been severe, but you would have pioneers who went through all three. And for this reason, the bitter lessons that they learnt forged in them an epiphany and the fierce determination that only with a strong defence could Singapore safeguard its sovereignty.

"Because without this strong defence, Singaporeans would never be able to chart our own destiny."

This article was first published on Mar 6, 2015.
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