First BMT graduation parade in heartland

The field at Our Tampines Hub was even greener yesterday as it hosted the first basic military training (BMT) graduation parade to be held in a heartland location, with some 3,200 military recruits throwing their jockey caps in the air in celebration.

Our Tampines Hub was chosen as it was big enough and easily accessible to the families of the graduating recruits, said Colonel Pang Lead Shuan, commander of the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC), in response to queries from The Sunday Times.

Holding the parade in the heartland also brought home for the recruits “why we need to defend our home and preserve our way of life”, he added.

About 12,000 family members and loved ones attended the parade. Chief of Army, Major-General Goh Si Hou, was also present.

As was typical of a BMT graduation parade, the recruits yesterday marched in with their helmets and rifles, performed a march-past, and later recited the Singapore Armed Forces pledge and sang the National Anthem.

Two parades were held yesterday for the cohort.

One of them was reviewed by Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Chong Kee Hiong, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs.

He told the graduating recruits: “What you do today and the years to come will protect your loved ones and preserve our way of life.

“Know that the effort of every soldier is crucial and, regardless of rank and role, every one of you plays an important part in the defence of this country. Our greatest strength lies not in our economic success, but in our people.”

The other parade was reviewed by Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui.

BMTC graduation parades are typically held four times a year. Besides The Float @ Marina Bay, where 29 editions of the BMT graduation parade have been held since October 2010, other locations included Pasir Laba Camp and the National Stadium.

The latest cohort of recruits completed their 24km graduation route march – the traditional final phase of recruit training – on Tuesday.

The march, which started in Changi and ended at Marina Barrage, is also the reverse route of the march of defeat by prisoners of war who walked from Nicoll Highway to Changi during WWII.

The route was chosen to remind the recruits of the need to defend Singapore.