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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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