For many visitors Pulau Ubin may be just a convenient getaway to spend an afternoon of fun cycling with friends and family members.
For some of us, we would pass through an abandoned building or deserted plantation grove, wondering what was it like, back then when the island was a community of immigrants and natives with its own school, mosque, rubber and pineapples plantations.
Future visitors may not have the chance see any remnants. Everything now has a price for the highest bidder. Despite the island given ‘protected’ status, this blog have been searched for information on buying lands in Pulau Ubin. ‘Land grabs’ of prized locations have already begun. Whole quarry with its scenic lake is fenced off for a tertiary organization. Rumors abound about big boys bidding for restaurant license for integrated resort development. Coastal fish farming with its low environmental impact are told to be productive or be forced to close for other developments to take its place. The inter-connecting wetlands that stood against bull-dozing tide of human development may be helpless this time if the rumors are true.
Then there are other irks like poachers seeking information how to trap monitor lizards, catching wild pigs and snakes, whatever that are left in Pulau Ubin to be picked over. There are even survivor camps organized to teach kids how to catch them. The assault comes from all fronts, even from its supposed protector. Pits dug to catch pigs for research were not filled posing latent danger. Non-biodegradable PVC tapes wrapped around thousands of trees for census counts are not removed causing fungal rot. New location signs are put up full of misspellings including sungi for sungei, sarau for surau, malayu for melayu.
The preference of getting contractors for park maintenance pose other risks. Their workers have been caught for poaching before. Oysters growing on the rocks at Chek Jawa have been pried loose in large numbers indicating illegal harvesting.
Animal pit left uncovered
PVC tag not removed
As this country frown on anything pagan or any organic community self-expression (recently cancelling the popular Halloween zoo event), I went to Phuket for the vegetarian festival, hoping to get a feel of island culture similar to Pulau Ubin. The trip was worthwhile, with whole local community throbbing alive wearing whites and going vegan for 2 weeks. The procession and the merry-making would be familiar for those now in their fifties and sixties.