Ubin's past 'worth preserving for future'

Ubin's past 'worth preserving for future'
Long-time Ubin boat operators (above, from left) Mr Fang Ya Ba and Kit Kau Chye aboard a boat at the Changi Ferry Terminal. Photographers taking snapshots of the island's Pekan Quarry.

SINGAPORE - Sleepy Pulau Ubin was once a hotbed of rowdy gang activity in pre-war Singapore.

Initiation ceremonies by secret societies such as Sin Ghee Hin would take place on its shores.

This is one of several little-known facts uncovered by the National Heritage Board as part of its efforts to document the history of the 10.2 sq km, boomerang-shaped island in the northeastern corner of Singapore.

A team from the board, headed by group director of policy Alvin Tan, spent the last five months scouring academic texts, newspaper articles and conducting interviews with some of the island's 38 remaining residents to add to existing literature.

Mr Tan said publications about the island tend to focus on the island's flora and fauna and marine life. "Not a lot of research has been done on the lives of the people here, the occupations they held and how the land was used," he said.

He added that Pulau Ubin is worth documenting and preserving because it is the "last real kampung in Singapore".

There are plans to compile the information from the fact-finding exercise into an e-book and make it available to schools and heritage groups.

The island hit the headlines in April this year after a notice by the Housing Board led to confusion among islanders that 22 households would be evicted for the development of an "adventure park".

But the Government has since clarified that there are no plans for the time being to further develop the island, which is to be kept in a "rustic state for as long as possible".

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