Ever changing Pulau Ubin? Frontline, TCS 8, 17th June 2005
Will it become another artificial island? Will the continuous development rob it of its rustic charm?
(Transcript of excerpts, translated and written by Tan Kaixin, Pedal Ubin! guide)
The Chinese settled in Pulau Ubin nearly 100 years ago, and they were mainly Teochews who fished or worked at the quarries for a livelihood. The island was once host to a population of 7,000 residents but now there are less than a hundred people living there.
With the recent poultry ban, what is going to happen to the people on Ubin? The remaining residents are mainly the elderly who depend on poultry farming for a livelihood.
Since plans were announced for a boardwalk at Chek Jawa, there is mounting concern that the construction at Chek Jawa will damage the habitat. The National Parks Board (NParks) gave the assurance that the impact will be minimal and the works will be closely monitored. The construction would only take place in phases, and the boardwalk will be prefabricated offsite before being transported to and assembled at Chek Jawa.
Prof Peter Ng of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, NUS, is in favour of the boardwalk as it would allow more people to visit Chek Jawa and hence, develop a better appreciation to the unique habitat.
However, a spokeswoman from one group (Kaixin missed this part - email me if you know) begged to differ. They felt that not every natural habitat needs to be 'manicured' nor developed. They should be left alone for that is what draws people in the first place.
There are also concerns from the public that building amenities such as the new campsite at Jalan Jelutong and the bike park at Ketam Quarry for mountain biking will turn Pulau Ubin into another Sentosa. The rustic tranquility unique to Pulau Ubin would most definitely be lost!
The opening of the bike park might also destroy the habitat of the elusive red rattle lapwing, which was spotted at Ketam Quarry.
However, the wheels of development are already turning and there are plans in place to develop 50% of the island.
Some lament that Pulau Ubin is our link to the past and they don???t wish it to change while others think that it is inevitable.
Thanks to Tan Kaixin!