Ask any Singaporean, and they’d have a fond memory of the Padang ready at hand — be it of local events or just hanging out with their friends.
As one of Singapore’s most iconic hangout spots, it holds great nostalgia for most of us.
The location also holds tremendous historical significance. Originating as a military parade ground, the Padang has witnessed many events, such as the swearing-in of Yusof Ishak as head-of-state in December 1959.
Hence, the government has decided to gazette the Padang as Singapore’s 75th national monument.
Now under the Preservation of Monuments Act, it is our first-ever green space to achieve this status.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong officiated the gazette on Tuesday (8 Aug). Speaking at the official ceremony, he touched on the significance of the historical landmark.
Standing out amongst a bevy of colonial and commercial buildings since the 1800s, he said the Padang represents much of Singapore’s local history. It oversaw the very first National Day Parade in 1966 and the swearing-in of Encik Yusof Ishak.
The Padang is also where the government declared a merger with Malaysia in 1963. Needless to say, the open field is very much an indelible part of our nation.
However, Mr Tong pointed out that its long history isn’t the only reason the Padang holds a cherished space in Singaporeans’ hearts.
The green area has seen many festivities unfold, such as major sporting events and religious festivals. For instance, the Light to Night festival and the Singapore Marathon started and ended at the Padang.
Not to mention the celebration of Thaipusam, Lunar New Year and the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday – all of which took place right here.
“Many of us have also picnicked with our friends and family,” Mr Tong said. “As we look out towards the Padang, we feel our past come to life.”
For these reasons, the Padang has been chosen as Singapore’s 75th national monument. To this end, Mr Tong added:
It stands as a testament to Singapore’s historical journey, anchoring our Singaporean identity and reflecting our place in the world.
Veterans from the very first NDP were present to witness as Mr Tong pressed the button to initiate the gazetting of the Padang.
It is now protected under the Preservation of Monuments Act.
The National Heritage Board (NHB) also announced several key initiatives to promote the field to commemorate this historic occasion.
From October, upper primary school students can participate in a multi-player online Minecraft game – the ‘Maze@Padang’. They will have to navigate a maze, allowing them to learn about the landmark’s importance.
Special tours will also take visitors around the Padang and surrounding locations, such as the Former City Hall. Registration for the event will begin at 10am on 9 Aug, with more information available here.
In the last two months of the year, there will also be a treasure hunt allowing participants to explore the Civic District and learn about our national monuments. Ticketing information will be available soon.
We have come far as a nation since starting out as a fishing village, emerging strong despite the struggles of the past few years.
And what better way to commemorate that than entrenching one of our only few green spaces as a historical landmark?
The Padang is and will always be a celebration of our 57 years long history and culture.
Now a national monument, we can rest assured we will be able to see it standing for many years more.
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Featured image by MS News.
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