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Pulau Tekong

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Introduction | Jurong Island | Pulau Tekong | Sisters' Islands | Pualu Hantu | Lazarus Island | Remaining Islands | Conclusion

Pulau Tekong

Brief Island Facts

Name of island: Pulau Tekong (Tekong Island)
Position of island: North-eastern coast of mainland Singapore
Uses: Training base. Industries.
Size of island: 24 square kilometres

General Information

          Pulau Tekong is the largest of all Singapore’s outlying islands. It is found on the northeastern shores of mainland Singapore and is closely beside Pulau Ubin. Also, it is actually nearer to Johor of Malaysia than the mainland Singapore itself. Several reclamation works have been undergoing to increase the island size greatly. This had also led to disagreement of the Malaysian Government which has referred the reclamation issue to international arbitration under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
          The island is used exclusively as a training base for Singaporean males attending National Service. It is a lively site for the cultural production and reproduction of Singaporean military discourse.

Island Structure and Nature

          On the Pulau Tekong, there are secondary forests, mangrove swamps, plantations, open fields, man-made cultural features, and land newly reclaimed from the sea. There is also a fresh water reservoir. On the sea the carrying bathymetric depths are indicated by the nature and concentration of sediments resulting in different reflectiveties in the various bands.
          Big pieces of jungles have been cleared for the building and expansion of military facilities on the island. Like Pulau Ubin and other islands, Pulau Tekong is highly infested by mosquitoes. This is because of the improper treatment to the inside environment of the forests. The shores of the island is always changeable due to the bands of reclaimed land. This has thus brought about the dislikes of the Malaysian Government.
          One survey was conducted in 1987 to determine the benthic macro fauna from 7 stations located around the island. The seabed is mainly muddy with seagrass communities and frequent sightings of dugongs.

Accessibility

          Pulau Tekong is an island that is restricted from unauthorised people to enter. This is mainly because of the military base in Pulau Tekong which may pose danger when the soldiers are under training. Certain Industries are undergoing and only authorised people with a pass can enter Pulau Tekong. The government does this to ensure safety on the island. However, most male Singapore citizens may get a chance to enter this biggest island of Singapore when they reached the time for National Service.
          SAF Ferry Terminal is the main terminal where national servicemen or other authorised people travel from. High security measures are observed along the waters as Pulau Tekong is considered as one of Singapore’s most important military base and training camp.

Military Base

          The military base occupies most part of the island apart from the 90% dense forests of the island. It offers three-month courses in basic military training, churning out up to 16,000 fighting men a year. Inductees are rapidly put through their paces, shedding excess pounds on route marches, while learning how to strip down a rifle, thrust a bayonet into an adversary's organs and hurl grenades at defensive positions.
          The institution's tone, perhaps contrary to many people's expectations, is far from being brutal or stark. The buildings are pastel-coloured, parents visit three times during basic training and the recruits' mattresses were recently upgraded from thin foam sheets to well-sprung slabs.

Reclamation Works on Pulau Tekong

          Land reclamation is necessary to Singapore mainly because of its small land size. There is a rising demand for more land as the population size increases over the years. Till 1990, Singapore had reclaimed 51.5 km, Pulau Tekong being the island that reclaimed most land. Reclamation works are still undergoing and when completed, Pulau Tekong and the nearby Pulau Ubin will double their size, from 3534ha to 6228ha. However, Malaysia is unhappy about the reclamation works that have affected their shores, marine environment and more.

          The reclamation has affected Pasir Gudang and Tanjung Pelepas ports in the process. There were also complaints from Johor fishermen that their livelihoods have been affected due to the sand discharge and other sediments from the Pulau Tekong reclamation will make the deep water channel shallower and narrower within about one year. Reclamation had also extended some 12 nautical miles south of Pulau Tekong, leaving only about 950m of passageway and thus, leading to traffic congestion. This gravely compromises the safety of small vessels in particular.
          Fishermen spotted many sand dredgers trespassing into fishing areas to siphon sand for the reclamation works, thus affecting marine habitat and disturbing fish breeding grounds. Reclamation works bring about changes to the shore line; physical processes such as wave and current patterns will also change. Reclamation works can affect the natural drainage of hinterland areas with river mouths being affected and the natural hydrology upset. Malaysia thinks that Singapore should pend the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal, suspend all current land reclamation activities in the vicinity of the maritime boundary between the two States or of areas claimed as territorial waters by Malaysia (and specifically around Pulau Tekong).
          Singapore will provide Malaysia with full information as to the current and projected works, including in particular their proposed extent, their method of construction, the origin and kind of materials used, and designs for coastal protection and remediation. She will also afford Malaysia a full opportunity to comment upon the works and their potential impacts having regard, inter alias, to the information provided to negotiate with Malaysia concerning any remaining unresolved issues.

          The Tribunal suggests both countries promptly establish a group of independent experts to conduct a joint study in line with Singapore's position. The Tribunal has also ruled in line with Singapore's offers and assurances, while allowing reclamation works to continue.
          As an overall, Singapore does not need to stop its land reclamation works either at Pulau Tekong or Tuas as ‘demanded’ by Malaysia.
          The government had planned housing and industrial development on the reclaimed land of Pulau Tekong. It has also been noted that when in 2010, Singapore may reach a population of 5 million. Part of the population may be able to live on Pulau Tekong or Pulau Ubin. This decision is yet to be confirmed.

Mysterious Ghost Stories

The Only Three Door Bunk
          This story is told by an army officer stationed in Pulau Tekong. He has to take special induction training courses in order to perform his duties as a platoon commander.
          In one special session, which he unfortunately missed, but his fellow officers told him, it involved a Mindef Directives on not conducting training on Thursday nights. The reasons cited included an increased risk in accidents, injuries and incidents occurring in Thursday Trainings in the evening. The session included an actual case study of the mysterious death of an army recruit. The incident supposedly occurred in the 1970s.
          It involved the incident of a recruit who went missing halfway through a route march. First the platoon, then the company, then the camp, and eventually the entire island unit was mobilized to look for him. They found him the next day, with his body disembowelled, along the route of the route march.

          There is a 3 door bunk in Charlie Company. The army officer is not aware if there is a connection with this story. He believes that the 3 door could have been there for a reason, whether paranormal or not.
          There were other stories saying that people who sleeps there, never wakes up and have all their organs nicely placed outside their bodies beside the corpse. But one thing is sure, is that the door exist. One can always go there and see that door and realized that all other bunks have only 2 doors except that one.
          Rumours are passed on about the murder of a soldier in the 3 door bunk on a Thursday night. The scene was cleared and was never mentioned, as authorities did not want to destroy the reputation of the military site. Was it because of the ghost of the soldier or did the recruit happened to die unknowingly? It’s up to you to believe and decide the truth!

Beware The Toilet Ghost
          This is what happened to bunkmate. His friend, P, for simplicity use, needs to go the toilet in the middle of the night. So he asked his pairing buddy D, to accompany him to the toilet. This was, of course, a usual practice in camps. So P was in the toilet urinating, and whistling and D was outside the toilet, half asleep. After quite some time, P was still in the toilet whistling and D was restless. So D asked P if he is done, but P did not answer and continued whistling. D climbed up the cubicle to see if P was finished or somehow asleep.
          But when he looked into the cubicle, there was no one in it, and the whistling stopped! When D climbed down, the whistling continued. D was scared, and told P that he is tired and wanted to go back to sleep. P finally spoke and said, “Are you tired or do you already know?” D ran back to his bunk and bed to hide and sleep.
          The next day, D asked P if he had woke him up last night to go to toilet, and P said no. Somehow guys can always sense is someone is playing a trick or not, and in this case, it is definitely not a trick or prank.

Tekong Jacob’s ladder
          There is this female silhouette on the top of Jacob’s ladder at Tekong Camp 1 while doing prowling with another platoon mate. She is known to be waiting for her husband who went out to sea and has not returned since. Once in a while, she will remove her head to comb her hair. There was other story about a lady raped in red and was buried just under the ladder. Every night, unfortunate people who pass the area may hear sings or cries.

Remember, Malays Hate Pork
          It was believed that long ago, Malays were the first immigrants in Pulau Tekong. Lately, due to disease or internal wars, all the Malays on the island disappeared. They were not really considered disappeared, but as they die, they happen to decompose at spots. Thus, Pulau Tekong became haunted as a Malay Cemetery.
          Then, there were stories that a recruit brought pork to the bunk and left it in the locker. Apparently the locker shook violently or he became possessed. He was stopped, shaken and was then alright. Also, there was once when his mother brought char-siew (pork) rice for him to consume. He then had high fever after finishing the food. Later, it was identified that the camp was buried over Malay cemeteries and that the spirits were not happy when pork was found in the bunk.

The Oil Palm Plantation
          At the oil palm plantation is a checkpoint known as SQ. It was once known as the Japanese Karaoke point as the Japanese had occupied it during the war. At night, if you pass by there, you may hear some Japanese songs drifting towards you.
 

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 Copyright Material of Group 88.
Last updated: 08/15/04.