The Padang, the open field in front of the National Gallery Singapore, will be gazetted as a National Monument in 2022.
This was announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Edwin Tong, during the ministry’s Committee of Supply debates on Mar. 10.
“Our cultural heritage plays an important role in growing a strong, confident society by anchoring our own unique Singaporean identity, and telling stories that are our own, that define us and which inspire us as a country,” Tong said.
The Padang “has borne witness to many significant national events”, said Tong.
Not only is the 4.3ha site “instantly recognisable”, he described it as an “enduring testament to our history as a people”.
Having been the site of numerous National Day Parades since 1966, the National Heritage Board (NHB) is working towards gazetting it on Aug. 9, National Day, later this year.
Accorded the highest level of protection
The decision to gazette the Padang, as well as the Singapore River Bridges as National Monuments, was first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in August 2019.
Heng made the announcement to commemorate Singapore’s bicentennial. NHB noted that the two sites have been significant “to our growth and development as a nation”, CNA reported.
According to the NHB, National Monuments are an “integral part of Singapore’s built heritage” which are preserved and promoted for posterity.
They are accorded the highest level of protection in Singapore.
As of 2019, Singapore has 72 National Monuments, including the Istana, Fort Siloso, Esplanade Park Memorials and the former Supreme Court.
More about the Padang
The Padang means “field” or “open ground” in Malay.
It has been the site of many events of historical significance, such as the inauguration of Singapore’s first president Yusof bin Ishak in 1959, and Singapore’s Golden Jubilee National Day celebrations in 2015, which marked 50 years of independence.
Currently, it remains a venue for sporting activities like cricket and tennis, and Formula 1 Grand Prix events.
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Top photo by Nigel Chua