After several National Education previews, and with the National Day Parade (NDP) all but two weeks away, many attendees of the rehearsals have thus far agreed on one thing - the Singapore Sportshub should never host another NDP ever again. This is despite the fact that the taxpayer will be contributing almost $40 million towards the NDP 2016.
In perspective, the total cost of holding NDP at the Padang in 2010 was $20.6 million and Marina Bay floating platform in 2015 for SG50, $40.5 million.
Not only are the renowned parachutists, Red Lions not able to enter the arena, but the omnipresence of the armour, artillery and military vehicles will also be missing from the NDP.
Many Singaporeans who were present at the Sportshub for the early previews were also not able to catch a glimpse of the fly past with the giant national flag and what they were treated to were a march past and an entertainment Programme within the National Stadium.
In addition, attendees inside the venue will not be able to have sight of the grand fireworks display which is usually the climax of the NDP. But what they got was some indoor fireworks as a substitute.
So far, MINDEF has been silent on whether the NDP will be back at the maligned Sportshub next year, or if it'll ever be back at the Sportshub at all.
On 29 February this year, Ms Sylvia Lim asked Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen in Parliament, if there is an expectation that future NDP will go back to the Sports Hub and what is expected to be paid?
Dr Ng replied, "that is a theoretical question and I do not have the answer."
Hype it up as much as possible, but the NDP 2016 will probably go down as one of the worst ever.
If public sentiment is a yardstick, then the Padang and the Floating Platform are best poised to host future editions of the NDP.
How did a national project which was supposed to have the buy-in and combined planning of multiple government agencies get so wrong?
Despite potentially costing the taxpayer $4 billion in public funds, it appears that many government agencies may have taken their eyes off the ball during the planning phase of this embarrassing national project.
The key questions to ask the Singapore government and its officials who were involved in the billion dollar project are as follows:
- How much input did MINDEF provide the consortium during the planning phase so that as many key facets of the NDP could be maintained when the SportsHub host the annual national show?
- Were simulation exercises conducted during the planning phase so that the foreign consortium would be well aware of what was the public expectations of the NDP? Were these expectations made clear to the consortium? Could planning have been better, considering this was the first of its kind project in Singapore?
- Were the inputs of the Red Lions sought prior to the roof of the venue being designed?
- Was MINDEF well are that the armoured vehicles would not be able to make their way around the National Stadium, unlike the old National Stadium, because of the new track specifications? If yes, why was this not communicated to the public earlier so that expectations of the public could well be better managed?
- Could the have been tweaked during the planning phase so that the public within the stadium could have a glimpse of the external fireworks display?
- What's the use of having a retractable roof when the roof is not retractable during the NDP for a better view of the skyline?
There are many more questions about the use of the Singapore Sportshub for the NDP organisers which the public needs answers to.