Bumboat to ferry SEA Games torch
The humble bumboat, which thronged Singapore's waterways from the 1950s through to the '70s, will be making waves at the opening ceremony of the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
On June 5, one vessel will carry the Games' torch, housed in a safety lantern, from Marina Bay through the Kallang Basin before making landfall in front of the new National Stadium at the Sports Hub.
One torch-bearer - whose identity will be unveiled only on the day itself - will pick up the torch and begin the Torch Relay, which will culminate in the lighting of the cauldron, which will burn until the end of the 2015 SEA Games on June 16.
The bumboat was the transport of choice due to its historical association with a country that today remains a leading trading post in South-east Asia.
In a statement released yesterday, Colonel Lawrence Lim, chairman of the opening and closing ceremonies, said: "Having the flame come to the National Stadium by water is a fitting reminder and celebration of Singapore's history and achievements.
"It also honours our past pioneering spirit - to fight, and dream, for what our home can be."
A day before the torch makes its journey on water, it will be paraded around the Marina Bay area by six torch-bearers handpicked from the volunteer group Team Nila.
One of them is 83-year-old Charles Eu, who will be an information officer at the National Stadium during the Games.
The retired teacher walks from his home in Hillview to Bukit Batok Nature Park and back every morning, covering a distance of around 4km.
On June 4, he will embark on one of the most important walks in his life.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Eu said he was shocked when he got the call three days ago.
"I never thought they would select someone my age. This is my first time taking part in a national ceremony like this, so I'm very nervous," he added.
He had kept the call a secret from his family, bar his 18-year-old granddaughter, who got all excited upon hearing the news.
"I don't want to brag about it," he said.
"I prefer to do things quietly."
The Torch Parade will be a culmination of various community engagement programmes held over the past 18 months to build up excitement for the SEA Games.
Members of the public can witness the procession at Marina Bay, where each of the six torch-bearer teams will carry the flame for a segment of the 2.5km route. Starting from The Promontory @ Marina Bay, they will pass iconic landmarks including Clifford Square, Merlion Park, the Esplanade and the ArtScience Museum.
The parade will end at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza, where the torch will be transferred into a safety lantern for the following day's journey to the National Stadium.
Toh Boon Yi, chief of the SEA Games organising committee's Community & Corporate Outreach, said: "The objective of the traditional torch relay was to inform everyone that the Games was coming, and we wanted to do something different and better by involving the community.
"The torch parade is the fitting highlight of all these efforts that culminate in the formal lighting of the torch.
"We hope everyone will come down and witness this significant occasion."