Saturday, January 28, 2006

Govt to develop Ubin quarry into recreational park

There has always been queries as to whether the quarries on Ubin could be open for recreation since they are all fenced up and out of bounds. This 1998 article shed some light on the possible plans the government has for the island in the future.

Govt to develop Ubin quarry into recreational park.
13 January 1998
Business Times Singapore

THE government is acquiring a granite quarry on Pulau Ubin for an outdoor recreation park on the island.

Responding to BT queries, the Ministry of Law said: "The government has no plans to tender out the site to private developers". But it said that the National Parks Board would be developing outdoor entertainment in keeping with the rustic setting of Pulau Ubin instead.

This puts an end to speculation that the site, which is 36.9 hectares or almost four million sq ft in size, would house a large theme-park type development. The National Parks Board will be developing an outdoor recreation and adventure park on the site.

The quantum of compensation to be paid out to the quarry's owner-operator Aik Hwa Trading Company for the acquisition will be determined by the Land Office, after it has received claims for compensation from the company.

With the acquisition, which was announced in the Dec 26 issue of the government gazette, vacant possession of the site is expected by the end of March.

In May 1996, Minister for National Development Lim Hng Kiang announced that the government had plans for half of Pulau Ubin, or 500 ha of the island, to be turned into a recreational centre with a rural and natural setting.

The private sector is to have a hand in running the facilities, which would include sites for biking, hiking and camping with lookout points for bird watchers.

Already, the government, through the National Parks Board, has awarded two 15-year leasehold Ubin sites in private tenders.

The larger of the plots awarded last year is being turned into a mini-resort with chalets for up to 350 visitors.

Called the Ubin Lagoon Resort, the S$22 million project is being built by joint venture partners Alliance Technology and Development Ltd and Fort Canning Country Club Investment Ltd.

Another smaller plot of land of 2.6 ha was awarded to real estate developer Powerland Holdings Ltd, for a sum of S$3.3 million.

(c) 1998 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

Down memory lane

On this eve of the Lunar New Year, let us revisit Ubin through the memories of some residents. The below article was written by the Oral History Department of the National Archives in 1990. It compiled the oral history records of interviews with ubin islanders. Note the outdated context of the article as there were still active quarries on the island in 1990 but all quarry activities were ceased upon government acquisition in 1998.

Enjoy the article and Happy Lunar New Year!

Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin, undated. Source: Oral History Department

Travelling north from Changi after a 10-minute boat-ride, one reaches Pulau Ubin, one of the major suppliers of granite for the building industry. According to history sources, he quarry was discovered before 1848, and up to today, has provided job opportunities for the residents. The majority of the Chinese residents are Hakkas, followed by the Hokkiens and Teochews. Eighty-two year old resident Lim Chye Joo came to Pulau Ubin to seek his relative in 1935. This was what he said about work in Pulau Ubin then:

About 70% of them found jobs in the quarry, the rest of them were poultry farmers, fishermen or hawkers. The Hakkas formed the majority and they were quarry workers. They stayed in the small pockets of farm land and dealt in some petty trade. The population was scattered. The ones with spouses lived in wooden huts. In those days, it was easy to build a house at any place you fancied. They could also grow vegetables and rear poultry to earn some side income. There are also petty traders at the kang-kar. Kang-kar is the hub of activities in the island. (Literally translated, kang-kar meets feet of the harbor, which refers to the mouth of the river at the coast)

Pulau Ubin has remained much the same, except for some educational and economic changes in the '70s. The younger residents prefer to find work on mainland Singapore. The are others who have abandoned everything and settled for a new way of life on the mainland. Pulau Ubin does seem much more tranquil than in her heyday. It is for this reason that it was attracted the city dwellers who want to get away from the city.

  • Oral History Department (1990) "Pulau Ubin & Pulau Tekong" in Recollections: People and Places, Oral History Department, Singapore
  • Saturday, January 21, 2006

    "Ubin Boy" on Kids Central

    Beginning in January 2006, Kids Central will be showing the kids drama "Ubin Boy" every Sundays at 10am. The film appears to be filmed on the island and features the island prominently, showing actual residences and places on the island.


    The synopsis of "Ubin Boy" from Kids Central writes:
    "10 year old Steven is a divinity of a city kid. His life is surrounded by hand phones, computers, internet, play station, ipod, large screen plasma television, stereo sound system and of course the comforts of air conditioning and a maid. Life is good.

    Things take a turn when his father, Mr. Teo, a businessman, loses his company to a financial crisis. Unable to upkeep their house in the city, Mr. Teo has to relocate the entire family to his childhood home in Pulau Ubin. There lives Steven's cousin, Ah Boy and their grandmother, Ah Ma. Although Steven only visits them once or twice a year, during Chinese New Year or Ah Ma's birthday, he hates going to Pulau Ubin. A pure city boy at heart, Steven doesn't like nature at all. He finds it hot, bothersome, and worse still; having to fight with mosquitoes and bugs. It's definitely the last place he wants to be in. So imagine the surprise when he finds out that is exactly where he is going to spend the next six weeks of his year end holiday!

    The day of reckoning finally comes when the Teo family moves from city life to kampong life. As the family takes the water boat out from Changi jetty to P. Ubin, Steven's heart falls. Mr. Teo encourages Steven. It will not only be fun, but also a good opportunity to see how his father lived as a boy. But Steven is not so sure. As a matter of fact, he is all prepared to hate Palau Ubin.

    When Steven finally arrives at Ah Ma's, all his worse fears are realized, not only does he has to live in a small rickety house that doesn't even have a proper bathroom much less air conditioning, he also has to content with Ah Ma pinching his cheeks and messing up his hair. And as if that is not bad enough, Steven has to content with his cousin, Ah Boy!

    The slightly shorter but stronger Ah Boy is only to glad to pay Steven back for the past bullying he received when they were younger. Now with his well toned muscles earned from climbing trees and other outdoor activities, he is ready to welcome his city cousin with a well deserve headlock! Needless to say, Steven and Ah boy haven't always got along. While Ah Boy thinks Steven is sissy pampered city boy, Steven thinks Ah Boy is an unrefined, dirty kampong boy.

    Now however, the two boys will have to learn to get along with each other, because six weeks is a pretty long time.

    As Steven slowly settles into his new environment, he learns that life in a simple and small kampong like Pulau Ubin really isn't that bad after all. Ah Boy also discovers that having someone his age to hang out with, is really a lot of fun.

    Together with Ah Boy's next door neighbour, the feisty Xiaomin, the trio undertakes one great adventure after another. Pretty much soon, they also meet Teck Ko, a loony but very funny character who is always trying to tricks them but gets the tables turned on him instead.

    Very soon, life is a lot more colourful, fun and exciting as Steven learns about the beauty of lifelong friendships, the great outdoors and the magic that is Pulau Ubin."

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    Ubin Elephant Gets Female Escort Home

    Another article in the series on the 1991 elephant visitor on Pulau Ubin. It's interesting to note that this is not the first visitor across the straits that we've had in Singapore, there were 3 others at Pulau Tekong in 1990.

    Caption reads: "One of the two trained female elephants which will help to lead the wild male out of Pulau Ubin today." Source: Straits Times

    Ubin Elephant Gets Female Escort Home
    Saturday, March 9, 1991
    The Straits Times
    Image of the actual article [0.6MB]

    The wild elephant which has made its home in Pulau Ubin for more than a week will be going home this morning.

    Yesterday afternoon, two trained female elephants arrived on the island to help in moving the runaway male elephant, believed to have swum over from Johor.

    It will be released into the Endau-Rompin reserve on the border between Johor and Pahahg.

    The two trained females, Cik Mek and Mek Bunga, had helped move the tree wild elephants captured on Pulau Tekong in May last year.

    Also called monitor elephants, they are part of the Malaysian Wildlife Department's Elephant Capture and Translocation Unit.

    The unit had assisted Singapore authorities in trapping the runaway elephant on Ubin.

    The presence of the stray elephant was first known when it attacked an islander on March 1 with its trunk.

  • "Flying elephants do not cross the river"
  • It's a zoo out there!
  • "Ubin Elephant Caught"
  • "Jumbo Hunt on in Pulau Ubin"
  • Saturday, January 14, 2006

    Jumbo Hunt on in Pulau Ubin

    During the 1991 visit from an unexpected visitor from across the straits, a fury of newspaper articles traced the "jumbo hunt" on Pulau Ubin.

    Caption reads: "Mr Tan Kit Sun, the zoo's assistant curator, helping to track the elephant down to the eastern and central parts of Pulau Ubin yesterday. According to his estimates, based on the animal's footprints found in the soft earth behind the shrine, the animal stands about 2.3m high at the shoulder."

    Jumbo Hunt on in Pulau Ubin
    Saturday, March 9, 1991
    The Straits Times
    Image of the actual article [0.6MB]

    Mr Ngo Tai Leong, 64, was probably accidentally hit on the head by the elephant's trunk while praying at the small shrine in the jungle on Friday.

    Mr Bernard Harrison, the Singapore Zoological Gardens' executive director, who was in Pulau Ubin yesterday to supervise the tracking, added that the animal was probably ambling around in the jungle looking for food when he came across the man around 11.30pm that night.

  • "Flying elephants do not cross the river"
  • It's a zoo out there!
  • "Ubin Elephant Caught"
  • Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Ubin Elephant Caught

    In 1991, an elephant from across the Straits of Johore visited the island of Pulau Ubin and caused considerable excitement on the island. Below is one of several newspaper cuttings taken from The Straits Times of the media coverage of the time.

    Caption reads: "The chained elephant... it is expected to be brought back to Johor tomorrow"

    Ubin Elephant Caught
    Saturday, March 9, 1991
    David Miller
    The Straits Time
    Image of the actual article [1.6MB]

    PULAU UBIN - The elephant which injured a man and damaged a taxi on Pulau Ubin was caught yesterday morning.

    The 2.3 metre-tall bull was tranquillised by a single dart fired from the rifle of a Malaysian wildlife ranger.

    It is expected to be returned to the jungle in Johor tomorrow.

    Early yesterday morning, experts from the Johor Wildlife Department set out to track it.

    Residents on the island were asked to call the police post if they saw the elephant.

    At about 8.15am, one villager did, saying that he saw the animal in the north-western part of the island.

    The hunters went there immediately and found the elephant 40 minutes later.

    "The elephant wasn't aggressive. It made one mock attack when it was shot, but then retreated," said Mr Tan Kit Sun, the zoo's assistant curator.

    It ran off towards a clump of trees, where it collapsed about six minutes later, when the sedative took effect.

    The Singapore's Zoo veterinarian, Dr Shirley Llizo, who examined the animal while it was sedated, said it was in good health.

    The animal, estimated to be between seven and 10 years old, was chained to a nearby tree to stop it from moving around.

    A team from the Malaysian Wildlife Department's Translocation Unit is expected to take the animal back to Johor, where it is believed to have come from, tomorrow.

    To do this, a special ramp will be built leading up to a lorry. Two trained elephants will then sandwich the captured animal and lead it onto the vehicle for its homeward journey.

    Even though it has been captured, the authorities are restricting visits to the island.

    Police are waiting to see if any more elephants are sighted on the island.

  • "Flying elephants do not cross the river"
  • It's a zoo out there!
  • Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Articles on fluting in granitic rocks and ecotourism uploaded to Pedal Ubin webpage

    Two articles kindly sent to us by CR Twidale have been added to the Pedal Ubin! webpage links page. Better if you download the articles before reading instead of in your browser:

    Twidale, C. R. & J. A. Bourne, 2003. Origin and Inversion of Fluting in Granitic Rocks. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 50: 543-552. [pdf; 1,480KB]

    Twidale, C. R. & J. A. Bourne, 2003. Commentary: practices, problems and principles for ecotourism - a case study. Tourism Geographies, 5(4): 482-492. [pdf; 401KB]