SINGAPORE, Aug 9 — Today (August 9), as Singapore celebrates its 57th year of independence, the Padang will become the first green, open space to be officially gazetted, to become the country's 75th national monument.

The Padang is a social and community space associated with many milestones in Singapore's history, such as the formal surrender of the Japanese on September 12, 1945 and the victory rally of the first fully elected Legislative Assembly on June 3, 1959.

The Padang was also where Singapore held its first National Day in 1966, an event presided by then President Yusof Ishak.

Speaking yesterday at an event ahead of the gazette, Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said that the Padang, along with the 74 other national monuments, “preserves and celebrates the stories that define Singapore and our people”.

He also said that the gazette of the Padang will protect it from any alteration and change that might affect its “character and significance”, while still allowing it to serve as a social and community space.

In November last year, the definition of national monuments was broadened under the changes to the Preservation of Monuments Act, to allow for the preservation of any sites. Previously, it was limited to the preservation of buildings and structures.

Following the gazette of the Padang, the National Heritage Board (NHB) will be launching initiatives from this month to promote greater awareness and appreciation of the site's significance in Singapore's history.

The initiatives include the [email protected], which is a Minecraft game for upper primary school students and would transport them to an underground maze beneath the Padang.

There will also be new guided tours focusing on the Padang and two of its surrounding national monuments, the former City Hall and former Supreme Court, which will be launched this month.

Members of the public may also take part in the Monumental Hunt in the Civic District, which is a puzzle hunt in the Civic District, and set to launch in November.

Jean Wee, director of the Preservation of Sites and Monuments division at NHB, said that the gazette of the Padang is a reflection of the board's efforts to enhance the preservation and promotion of sites of national significance.

She said that the Padang “will contribute to the architectural and cultural diversity of our nation’s built heritage, and be celebrated as one of the many places that define Singapore and our people”.

The Singapore Cricket Club and Singapore Recreation Club, located at either end of the Padang, are major stakeholders involved in the maintenance and use of the site.

Zoher Motiwalla, president of the Singapore Cricket Club, said: “The gazette has been long overdue in recognising the Padang's position as the site of many significant national events, and its importance as one of the roots of our country's history and heritage.”

He added that the club takes its role as one of the stalwart custodians of the Padang “very seriously” and will “continue to help maintain it as a place that brings communities together to interact and play through sports and leisure activities”.

There will be no changes to the operations of the Padang following its official gazette. ― TODAY