Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ubin's 'Pacific Blue' cops

The Straits Times, 31 May 05

Pulau Ubin police patrolmen are turning head on the island because of their new uniform--blue polo T-shirts, bermuda shorts and black hiking boots. And like their counterparts on the television series Pacific Blue, Sergeant Nicole Tan, 21, Sergeant Kevin Tay, 25, and Corporal Izwan Mohd Yusof, 28, use bicycles on their beats.

Launched yesterday, the uniform is part of an initiative by the Police Coast Guard's new Loyang Regional Base that was officially opened then.

The informal-looking get-up is meant not only to be comfortable, but also to boost rapport with the islanders.

Islander and driver Choo Geok Choon, 60, said: "I like it. It reminds me of the good old days when policemen wore shorts".

Mr Lai Ah Hah, 53, who also lives on Ubin, said with a grin: "It's cooler for them, but they have to watch out for the mosquitoes."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Old Changi Jetty

As read on Focus Ubin on 2 May 2005, there has been signs that the process of demolishing the old Changi Jetty has already begun!

Photo of Changi Jetty on 2 May 2005 by Ria Tan

First the roof, next the whole jetty will be gone before you know it. Go and catch a glimpse of the old jetty that served as a gathering point and launching point for many memorable trips to Ubin for decades. [Editor's note: Does anyone know how long it has been there? There have been photographic records courtesy of FairyPoint dating all the way back to the 1930s and before!]

According to a Straits Times article dated 31 Dec 2004, the old jetties will be demolished and dredging will be carried out 'so that the unsightly seabed will not be exposed during low tide'.

Changi Jetty in the 1930s. Photo courtesy of FairyPoint.

I am sure that many like myself has always felt that the old jetties looked dirty and unsafe and thus prompted the construction of a new jetty that has "sheltered gangways and pontoons for safer embarkation and disembarkation" (MPA News Release, Dec 2004). However, I will really miss the grand old tree providing shade on all those hot sunny afternoons and the quaint little petrol kiosk for boats with a shop sign that has withstand decades of salt spray. Sometimes you might even find kampung chicken running around near the jetty! One time I was there I even saw some of the bumboat operators spraying down a boat from shore and it wasn't a sight I would expect to see from the new clean and sanitized ferry terminal.

This often makes one wonder, how do we balance history, cultural flavour and heritage between modernization and safety?

Focus Ubin, "Changes at Changi Jetty, departure point for Pulau Ubin, Singapore"

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pulau Ubin Conservation and Management Plans

NParks/HSBC Joint media release, 29 April 2005: Launch of Pulau Ubin Conservation and Management Plans - Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub, Chek Jawa, Jelutong Campsite & Bike Park

29 April 2005 (Friday) - The Pulau Ubin Conservation and Management Plans were officially launched by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development today. To enhance the Ubin Experience for the public while making more areas accessible for green recreation, these plans include upcoming amenities such as the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub, visitor facilities at Chek Jawa Wetland, a new campsite at Jalan Jelutong and a bike park at Ketam Quarry for mountain biking.

Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, graced the launch ceremony as the Guest-of-Honour. Also present were Prof. Leo Tan, Chairman of National Parks Board (NParks) and Mr Paul Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) in Singapore.

Photo by Gurmit Singh

In line with its long-standing support for nature conservation, HSBC made a donation of S$800,000 to the Pulau Ubin Conservation Fund, which would be used to enhance nature conservation, outreach and research initiatives on Pulau Ubin. This will include the setting up of the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub to promote and facilitate volunteerism, community involvement and nature outreach. When ready by the later part of this year, the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub will house a resource centre, a seminar room, activity rooms and a management office. A one-stop centre for information on Pulau Ubin, the resource centre will be stocked with reference and multimedia materials, as well as plant and animal samples to facilitate project work and conservation research by schools and other organisations. The seminar and activity rooms will host talks, slide shows and workshops for the public, and would be used for volunteer training as well. NParks will also relocate its management office to the Volunteer Hub for better co-ordination and management of outreach activities.

When the boardwalks with lookout platforms and shelters, and viewing tower at Chek Jawa Wetland are completed by 2006, the public can enjoy the natural heritage with minimal impact to the surrounding habitats. House Number 1, an abandoned English cottage, will be restored and adapted for use as a Visitor Centre with interpretative displays, a seminar room and field research facilities. This building was constructed in the 1930s by the then Chief Municipal Engineer for a British Medical Officer. Now a Conservation Building, it is the only one of its kind left in Singapore, with architecture typical of the Tudor period.

Covering 7.5 ha, the Jelutong campsite is an addition to existing camping areas at Noordin Beach and Mamam Beach. When completed by end of this year, it will offer the public an alternative campsite that is nearer to the village hub. The 14.4 ha bike park at Ketam Quarry would be ready for mountain biking activities in September 2006.

Prof. Leo Tan, Chairman of NParks said, "Working with a community of partners such as HSBC, volunteers, nature groups and school adopters, Pulau Ubin would continue to provide distinctive experiences to meet the public's recreational and educational needs."

Elaborating on HSBC's support, Paul Lawrence, CEO of HSBC Singapore said, "As the world's local bank, we are committed to making a positive and sustained difference to the communities in which we operate. It is in this spirit that we have a long standing partnership with NParks in conserving and protecting our natural heritage. Our successful collaboration at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve over the last decade is a good example of this and now, Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa offer the opportunity for us to extend our contribution to nature conservation. We are hopeful that collectively, we can make a real and lasting difference to the conservation of Pulau Ubin and to enhance its value for the enjoyment of our community. I'm also pleased that so many of my colleagues have come forward to volunteer their time toward this effort to care for nature."

Mr Gurmit Singh Kullar, a regular volunteer at Pulau Ubin, commented, "I am heartened by NParks' efforts in promoting community involvement and nature outreach on Pulau Ubin. It's also good to know that partners from the private sector are taking a proactive approach in raising awareness about a very special historical, geographical and ecological part of Singapore. The volunteers are especially excited about the upcoming facilities at the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub. We will continue to work closely with NParks and all the green partners to sustain our natural heritage."

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