This is our only home: Pulau Ubin residents

PULAU UBIN - They sleep without locking the doors at night. Surrounded by the constant buzz of mosquitoes and animals like wild boars and monkeys, the elderly women who live alone have called Pulau Ubin home for their entire lives.

Madam Hamidah Awang, 58, and her mother, Madam Jariah Garib, 75, are two of the few remaining villagers in the Malay kampung in Pulau Ubin.

But their lives may change soon - they received a census notice from the authorities last month.

For both of them, the possibility of having to resettle elsewhere is upsetting.

"My mother's first reaction was worry. (The time she spent on the mainland) made her feel uneasy," Madam Hamidah said in Malay. The Singapore Land Authority last Friday said that these residents are living on State land without a Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL). As a result, they have two options - pay a fee to use the land or resettle.

Lost contact with husband

Madam Hamidah, who is estranged from her husband, said that she has also lost contact with three of her four children.

But her 28-year-old daughter, who she said is the only one to care about her, has five children and lives in a one-room flat at Beach Road. And she can take only her grandmother in to live with them, Madam Hamidah said.

Madam Hamidah, who is the eldest of five children, has lived in their current house for about 30 years.

It is decorated with memorabilia from their old house in another part of Ubin.

They don't own a telephone or TV set.

They get electricity from a neighbour's generator, for which they pay about $30 a month, but they prefer to light candles around the house. Her younger brother, who now lives in the Bedok Reservoir area, had built the house, which is about the size of a two-room HDB flat, with the help of his friends.

Life at Pulau Ubin
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