Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Moving Gods Screening @ 4 March, NLB, 2pm

If you missed the previous screening of Moving Gods in NUS, this is your chance to catch it downtown, at the National Library this Saturday!

Toddycats, Singapore Heritage Society and the National Library Board is proud to present:

Moving Gods
Date: 4 March 2006 (Saturday)
Time: 2pm - 3.30pm
Venue: Imagination Room, Level 5 National Library, 100 Victoria Street

Legend has it when soldiers went to Pulau Ubin to intern a German plantation-owner after the First World War broke out, his unfortunate daughter fell to her death trying to flee. Her remains were interred by locals and a Taoist shrine was dedicated to her. Once tendered by the Boyanese, it now attracts gamblers and fortune seekers from all over Asia.

Director Ho Choon Hiong was drawn to this story, leading to the Find German Girl project, website and documentary. He then adapted Lim Jen Erh's play about the same story, Moving Gods, into a tele-movie of the same name for the Arts Central "Stage to Screen" programme.

Both Choon Hiong's documentary and movie will be screened at this event, along with Curse of Moving Gods, Evelyn Goh's documentary about paranormal incidents encountered during the making of Moving Gods. The screenings will be followed by an audience dialogue with the director.

Mark the date on your calendar and see you there!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dangers of Granite Quarrying

As mentioned before, granite quarrying was one of the main economy on the island but not only is quarrying dangerous to the quarry workers, it is also dangerous to the residents in close vicinity of the quarries!

In 1993, a chinese newspaper, Lianhe Wanbao, reports of falling rocks from granite blasting on Pulau Ubin that injured an old lady.

Below is a simplified translation of the article.

Huge Rock Falls From Sky, Smashing Old Lady's Head
20 September 1993
Lianhe Wanbao
Report By Guo Si Man and Cai Wan Ting
Download the article in chinese [1MB]

A figure depicting the sequence of events: (1) A quarry 1km away was blasting granite (2) One of the bits of rock flew towards the home of the injured woman and broke through the roof (3) The boulder broke through the roof and out from under the wooden wall (4) The boulder hit the left side of the victim's head and she then fell backwards bleeding (5) After injuring the victim, the boulder still continued down the hill slope, finally breaking into two

Granite quarrying has been occuring for a while on Pulau Ubin but this is the first time such an accident has happened. Residents thought that the island was safe but unexpectedly, a loose boulder still managed to travel to as far as 1km away.

A 20kg boulder fell from the sky, flying through the walls and hitting the victim on the head. The victim was then sent to the hospital on the mainland.

This incident occured on 18 September 1993 at 11.50am. After the accident, Mdm Lee was sent immediately to Changi Hospital but due to her serious conditions, she was transfered to another hospital.

Mdm Lee's husband, Mr Yang (age 68, a retired fisherman), said that despite this accident, they will continue to stay here. His wife and him were both born on the island, grew up there and will continue to live the rest of their lives on Pulau Ubin.

He also added that this incident was purely an accident. The accident unforunately occured to his family which is very unfortunate but there is nothing they can do about it but hope that his wife's conditions is not too terrible.

Translated by November Tan

Related Stories
  • Eradication of Silicosis Problem in Singapore
  • Aerial Map of Ubin
  • Govt to develop Ubin quarry into recreational park
  • The Quarries
  • Quarry Lakes
  • Monday, February 20, 2006

    Aerial Map of Ubin

    Click to enlarge image

    Looking at this aerial photo fully illustrates the idea of Ubin being our last wild frontier. It remains largely vegetated but interrupted with gaping pools of water that are the evidence of previous quarrying activities on the island. Granite hills on the island have all been carved into the lakes which we see today.

    Lu, Wong and Chou writes in the Geology section of "Singapore's Biophysical Environment" that the granite of Pulau Ubin is part of the Bukit Timah Granite produced in early-middle Triassic age during the mountain building stage of the Malay Peninsula.

    "The Bukit Timah granite refers to a wide range of acid rocks including the assimilation of basic rocks within the batholith. Granite is the main rock, light grey in colour and of medium grain size (3-5mm). The main minerals are quartz (30%), feldspar (60-65%) and ferromagesium minerals. Hybridization occurs at its western margin and the granite gives way to granodiorite.

    The Pulau Ubin Granite has some differences from the Bukit Timah Granite. It is richer in minerals, e.g. green hornblende and brown biotite occuring in clusters. Inclusions occur commonly on Pulau Ubin and Changi, representing mainly the bodies of basic rock and these can vary from 1 cm to tens of metres."

    This granite is also one of 3 major groups of rocks that were of economic importance to Singapore in the past. A series of granite quarries were located along the western flank of Bukit Timah and on Pulau Ubin. In 1970, there were 25 granite quarries employing about 1,200 workers in Singapore. The first quarry on Pulau Ubin opened in the early 19th century and the last quarry closed in 1999.

  • Lu Xi Xi, Wong Poh Poh & Chou Loke Ming (2005) Singapore's Biophysical Environment, Mcgraw Hill
  • Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Duality of Pulau Ketam

    Whenever we visit the German Girl Shrine near the Ketam Quarry (previously known as Aik Hwa Quarry), we would see an islet off Pulau Ubin with a spread of tall, luscious, mature mangrove plants standing on the islet. That is Pulau Ketam.

    Pulau Ketam as seen from Pulau Ubin, in front of Ketam Quarry

    I have always known that half the islet of Ketam was administered by National Parks Board and the other half by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). However, I never knew how to differentiate the two and possibly have only ever seen this particular view of Pulau Ketam. We also joke that "the other side of the island (that you can't see) with no trees probably belonged to AVA".

    Joke aside, I had not realize the truth and severity of that statement until I saw this satellite image of Pulau Ketam, taken from Google Earth.

    Satellite image of Pulau Ketam. Source: Google Earth

    The first ground photo I showed was taken from a site at the extreme north and top of the satellite image. It is not particularly clear in this photo. The cleared area in front of AVA's side of Ketam is the Ubin Resort. Perhaps if one has stayed at Ubin Resort previously, one would have noticed the cleared side of Ketam.

    According to the Mr. Budak, during a talk on the Straw-headed bulbul of Ubin by Dr Ho Hua Chew, Head of the NSS Conservation Committee, Dr Ho mentioned:

    "Land reclamation is also changing the landscape; for instance, a part of Pulau Ketam (an islet off Ubin) has been cleared of its original mangroves and turned into a landfill for no discernible purpose."

    Dr. Ho was emphasizing on the point that these changing landscapes and clearing of forested areas on Ubin is reducing the areas where our wildlife can survive. In following weeks, I will be showing more satellite images of parts of Ubin that has been cleared for recreation. It is rather amazing to see these areas from the air as it gives scale and perspective of its dimension in relation to the rest of the island. We would never have imagined how much area it occupies when we simply cycle past it on the ground or even if we have been within its compound!

    Related Articles:
  • Changing with time
  • Living on the Edge: The Straw-headed Bulbul in Pulau Ubin
  • Monday, February 06, 2006

    Toddycat caught on Ubin!

    A common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), commonly known as a Toddy Cat, was caught in a trap set by NParks on Ubin meant for other animals.

    Photo by Chayhoon, taken from Ubin Volunteer Blog

    It will eventually be released back into the wild.

    Ubin Volunteers' blog has photos and background information about the civet cat.

    Update @ 7 February 2006:
    According to Oi Yee, this civet cat may possibly still be a juvenile one due to its relatively small paw size
    [see photo of paw on Ubin Volunteer Blog].

    Update @ 8 February 2006:
    According to Chay Hoon, the photographer behind these photos, there were 2 toddycats caught in total. Chay Hoon first posted news of the Toddycats on Saturday, 4 February and the civet cats were soon released the next day on Sunday, 5 February 2006.

    Related websites:
  • Ubin Volunteers - "A Banana For ???" (With more photos and information on the civet cat caught on Ubin)
  • Wildlife Singapore - Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus
  • Wikipedia - Common Palm Civet
  • Raffles Museum Toddycats! - origin of our name
  • Boardwalk to get you close to nature in Ubin

    For those unaware, a broadwalk is currently being constructed at Chek Jawa and should possibly be completed in a year.

    Boardwalk to get you close to nature in Ubin
    By Alexis Hooi, Straits Times
    30 April 2005

    Walkway among features planned on island to let public enjoy nature

    RISING 3m above the ground, the 2.5km wooden boardwalk will traverse the shoreline and nature areas of Chek Jawa, home to one of Singapore's richest collections of plant and marine life.

    When completed by next year, the walkway will bring visitors up close to the inhabitants of the mudflats, mangrove forest and other habitats of the area in Pulau Ubin, without threatening them.

    The feature is part of plans, unveiled yesterday, to build new facilities to help the public enjoy Singapore's last few nature enclaves on the northern island.

    Strolling on the boardwalk, visitors will also be able to stop and appreciate more fully Chek Jawa's biodiversity, with lookout platforms, shelters and a seven-storey-high viewing tower.

    A Tudor-style English cottage there, built in the 1930s, will be restored and used as a visitor centre, with a seminar room and research facilities.

    West of Chek Jawa, 7.5ha of land - larger than 10 football fields - has been set aside as a third campsite on the island. The existing two are at Noordin and Mamam beaches in the north.

    And further west, the 14.4ha Ketam Quarry area will be used for mountain-biking activities.

    Contributing to these projects, which cost close to $10 million, is HSBC. It donated $800,000 to a fund set up to support nature conservation, outreach and research activities on the island.

    The fund will also be used for a resource centre that will coordinate and promote volunteerism in these areas.

    Touring the site of some of the projects yesterday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said these efforts were an example of how Singapore needed to balance its development imperatives with safeguarding its rich natural heritage.

    He said: 'Our approach has always been... pragmatism. Conserve as much as possible, but bearing in mind that we have to cater to our economic development.'

    Mr Mah cited Chek Jawa as a prime example of how Singapore could strike that balance - reclamation plans were put on hold four years ago to conserve the area.

    At the same time, he said, more was needed to develop new parks and enhance existing ones for Singapore to realise the vision of becoming a 'City in a Garden'.

    Such moves include linking up major parks and nature sites to form a 'green necklace', and enhancing greenery along streets.

    Mr Mah also stressed the importance of a public, private and people partnership in such a vision.

    Addressing concerns on how the new features could increase visitors but threaten Chek Jawa's ecosystem, Mr Mah said it was a way to accommodate as many visitors as possible while also protecting the area.

    'I hope the visitors who come will enjoy Chek Jawa without destroying it, loving it to death as it were.'

    (c) 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    The Ubin adventure begins

    In more recent news, just last year, the government again mentions possibility of opening up the quarries on Ubin for recreation. In fact, "the bid to develop the island starts with a $7 million project at Chek Jawa". One wonders which is the greater evil - utilizing development as a method of conservation or no development at all and allowing places on the island to become dilapitated and eventually forgotten.

    The Ubin adventure begins
    30 April 2005, TODAY
    By Jasmine Yin

    AS one of the rare rustic areas in a built-up Singapore, Pulau Ubin has the potential to be a popular destination for nature and adventure lovers.

    The vote of confidence came from National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, who launched the Pulau Ubin Conservation and Management Plans on the island on Friday.

    About 300,000 people visited the island last year, which the minister said was "quite amazing".

    "Pulau Ubin has the potential (to attract) more visitors. It is one of our last rustic spots, very good for adventure-seekers and mountain-bikers and later on, (if we) open up the quarries, there will be other adventure sports that we can organise here," he said.

    The emphasis will be on attracting Singaporeans, but no target figure has been set.

    The island "cannot support that many more visitors, but it will do what it can to give visitors a different kind of experience", Mr Mah said.

    The bid to develop the island starts with a $7 million project at Chek Jawa Wetland, a popular attraction on the island.

    A 2.5km-long, 2.2m-wide boardwalk cum trail will be built over land and sea at the ecologically-rich mangrove swamp. It will also have lookout platforms and shelters for the public to enjoy the area's biodiversity.

    Assuring nature lovers that the construction of the trail - to be completed by the end of next year - will not adversely affect the area's ecosystem, National Parks Board chairman Professor Leo Tan said: "We have already done an environmental impact assessment, so that we build with minimal damage to the environment. Once the boardwalks are constructed, many people can enjoy Chek Jawa without trampling on the sensitive marine environment."

    Other developments in the pipeline include a 7.5-hectare campsite in Jelutong, a 14.4-hectare bike park at Ketam Quarry and the conversion of a Tudor-styled English cottage into a visitor centre.

    To promote conservation on Pulau Ubin, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) yesterday donated $800,000 to set up the Pulau Ubin Conservation Fund. Of this, $250,000 will go into setting up the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub, a one-stop information centre to promote and facilitate nature volunteerism and outreach programmes.

    (c) 2005. MediaCorp Press Ltd.

    Related News:
  • Going off the cliff 13 September 2005, Straits Times
  • Pulau Ubin hosts cliff-diving demonstration to promote sport 12 September 2005, ChannelNewsAsia
  • Pulau Ubin Conservation and Management Plans 29 April 2005, NParks/HSBC Joint media release
  • Govt to develop Ubin quarry into recreational park 13 January 1998, Business Times Singapore