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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

The army is coming to town

Army Open House in May will be hosted at F1 Pit Building
The Straits Times - February 21, 2012
By: Jermyn Chow
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The army is coming to town -- ST FILE PHOTO

INSTEAD of far-flung western Singapore, this year's Army Open House will take place in the heart of the city at the F1 Pit Building.

The biennial event, to be held from May 24 to 28, according to tender documents obtained by The Straits Times, is believed to be the first Army Open House to be put up in a prominent public area.

Previous fairs were held within military installations like the Safti Military Institute and Pasir Laba Camp in Upper Jurong Road, though the Singapore Armed Forces had held exhibitions in public areas, such as West Coast Park in the early 1980s, and more recently at Marina South in 2000.

Another difference is that this year's open house, which is usually a two-day affair, will stretch over five days to commemorate 45 years of national service (NS) in Singapore.

When contacted, the Defence Ministry declined to give more details of the event, based on the theme, Celebrating 45 Years of National Service: From Fathers to Sons.

But the tender documents indicate that some 180,000 visitors are expected to throng the showgrounds that span more than five football fields.

Among the draws in the seven zones are opportunities to find out how NS has evolved over the years through a multimedia exhibition dubbed the NS45 showcase.

Father-son pairs and volunteer NSmen will be roped in to help tell stories, said the tender documents.

For visitors enthralled with military hardware, they can ride on, say, the army's amphibious vehicle, the LARC-5, and get up close to more than 20 pieces of army, navy and air force equipment such as the Leopard main battle tank, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and the Apache attack helicopter.

The open house - which will also highlight the fighting abilities of men and machines in a show - will be launched by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on May 26.

After the five-day event, admission for which is free, the NS45 showcase will migrate to four heartland locations in June and July.

Bringing the open house into the heart of the city will make it more accessible and convenient for visitors and draw bigger crowds, said defence observer David Boey.

He added that getting fathers and sons, as well as NSmen, to engage with visitors would make it easier for young people and their loved ones to relate to NS.

'Getting people who have gone through NS to talk will make it a living history kind of exhibition which the Gen-Y can relate better to, rather than just reading stuff off the wall,' said Mr Boey, 42.

Polytechnic student Eugene Lee, 20, who will be enlisted later this year, said: 'I can just hop on the MRT train or bus to get to the open house. It would be so much easier for me, my family and friends to learn a little bit more about the SAF and NS.'



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