Pulau Tekong

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Pulau Tekong
Pulau Tekong BMTC-crop.jpg
Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) at Pulau Tekong. (2011)
Pulau Tekong is located in Singapore
Pulau Tekong
Pulau Tekong
Location of Pulau Tekong within Singapore
Geography
LocationSoutheast Asia
Coordinates1°24′29″N 104°03′21″E / 1.40806°N 104.05583°E / 1.40806; 104.05583Coordinates: 1°24′29″N 104°03′21″E / 1.40806°N 104.05583°E / 1.40806; 104.05583
ArchipelagoMalay Archipelago
Area25[a] km2 (9.7 sq mi)
Administration
Planning AreaNorth-Eastern Islands
Additional information
Transport SAF Changi Ferry Terminal
Pulau Tekong Hot Spring
Rocky Hill
Map of Pulau Tekong in Singapore

Pulau Tekong, also known colloquially as Tekong or Tekong Island, is the second-largest of Singapore's outlying islands after Jurong Island. Tekong is located off Singapore's northeastern coast, east of Pulau Ubin. Since the 1990s, the island has been used by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and is generally restricted from public access. Transport to the island for permitted persons is via the SAF Changi Ferry Terminal at Changi Beach.

The original 25 km2 (6,178-acre) island has undergone extensive land reclamation works for military use on its southern and northwestern coasts subsuming many of its surrounding small islets, including the former 89-hectare (220-acre) Pulau Tekong Kechil (Small Tekong Island). When fully completed, the island is estimated to reach an area of about 75 km2 (18,530 acres).[1]

Etymology[edit]

Pulau Tekong appears in the Franklin and Jackson's 1828 map as Po. Tukang.[2] The early name could have arisen because the island served as a trading station for both residents of Pulau Ubin and the state of Johor. Tukang means merchants in this case.

Tekong means "an obstacle", so-called because the island blocks the mouth of the Sungai Johor. Pulo Tekong Besar came under the Changi district, and the island had a sizeable population, being the largest island off Singapore and two miles from Fairy Point. Ferries plied from the pier at that point and the island daily. After 1920, it was mostly known for its rubber plantations.

History[edit]

Civilian era[edit]

The island was once home to 5000 inhabitants, the last of which moved out in 1987. 60 percent of the inhabitants were Chinese, out of which 70 percent were Hakkas and 30 percent were Teochews, and 40 percent were Malays.[3][4] There were a few Indians as well.

The reason for Hakka being the majority of the Chinese population is that most of the Hokkien and Teochew businessmen already had flourishing businesses on the mainland. When the Hakkas arrived, they decided to make a living on an island less inhabited. Most were farmers, fishermen and shop owners selling sundry goods.

Wild pigs and deer were once plentiful on Pulau Tekong, and attracted hunters from Singapore. Pulo Tekong Besar had undergone so much development after World War II, with vegetable, fruit and poultry farms, that the wildlife has mostly disappeared.

Military era[edit]

On 29 May 1990, national servicemen spotted a family of three Indian elephants which had swum 1.5 km (0.9 mi) across the Straits of Johor.[5] The Singapore Zoo worked with the Malaysian Wildlife Department's Elephant Capture and Translocation Unit to help in its plan to recapture the runaway elephants. On 10 June, all three elephants were captured and relocated back to the jungles of Johor.

In March 2004, Pulau Tekong was the hiding place for a group of armed robbers comprising two Indonesians and a Malaysian. The robbers had fled from Malaysia, sparking off a massive coordinated manhunt involving Air Force helicopters, commandos, ground surveillance radar, troops from the 2nd Singapore Infantry Regiment, troops from the 40th Singapore Armoured Regiment and the Singapore Police Force. All three were caught by police officers; two by members of the Gurkha Contingent and one by the Police Coast Guard's Special Task Squadron. They were later charged with illegal entry and possession of firearms.[6]

On 25 September 2006, the Combat Engineers of Singapore Armed Forces handed over a new field camp, Sanyongkong Field Camp, named after a depopulated village Kampong Sanyongkong,[7] after a year of construction. The field camp would allow for longer training periods without returning to mainland Singapore.[8]

Land reclamation work is currently undergoing off the southern part of the island, with works on the northwestern coasts having been largely completed as of 2022. In contrast to other land reclamation works at other parts of the country, Singapore has been using the polder method to create new land for Pulau Tekong.[1][9]

Current usage[edit]

Pulau Tekong lies in the distance in the background, as taken from Changi Beach Park.

Pulau Tekong is used exclusively as a training base for the Singapore Army. Pulau Tekong Besar is one of the islands that is a training base for the various Singapore Army with other islands, including Pulau Sudong, Pulau Pawai and Pulau Senang.

The Basic Military Training Centre is based here, where recruits to the Singapore Army are trained in basic military operations. The School of Infantry Specialists (SISPEC) was formerly situated at Rocky Hill Camp. A new training area, called Sanyongkong Field Camp, has been completed on the reclaimed land south of Dogra Bridge. Built by the Combat Engineers, this field camp will be used to train Infantry and Guards battalions.

It also provides habitat to some wild animals that are rarely seen in the main island of Singapore, such as the leopard cat, Sunda slow loris and Sunda pangolin.[10] The extended Pulau Tekong will massively replace all training grounds, like Mandai, Marsiling, Seletar, Nee Soon, Lower Seletar, Upper Thomson and Simpang.

The island also houses Singapore's second hot spring, Pulau Tekong Hot Spring in the former grounds of Kampung Unum.[11]

Coastal protection[edit]

The National Biodiversity Centre (NBC) and National Parks Board (NParks) has conducted coastal protection and restoration works at the north-eastern coastline of Pulau Tekong to prevent further coastal erosion. The NBC stated that the erosion had resulted from extensive movements of ships and strong waves in the area. A study NParks commissioned in 2006 found that 1.65 km (1.03 mi) of the north-eastern shore is most severely affected.

The coastal erosion poses a threat to the 92 ha (230 acres) of mangroves in Pulau Tekong which is one of the largest mangrove areas in Singapore with a mature and undisturbed habitat.[12] Local ecologists point out that the island is extremely rich in biodiversity and resident to some rare or endangered species,[13] including the Fern Dipteris conjugata.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In Singaporean folklore, the island is deemed to be extremely haunted.
  • The Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (now Mediacorp) Channel 8 drama "Son of Pulau Tekong (亚答籽)" portrayed the lives of the inhabitants of Pulau Tekong before it was turned into a training area for the Singapore Armed Forces. It is unclear whether the folklore actually dates back to the days when Tekong was inhabited by civilians, or the beliefs sprang up after the island was taken over as military territory.[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Prior to land reclamation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sajan, Chantal (25 June 2021). "Singapore's first polder is a groundbreaking land reclamation project in Pulau Tekong". www.straitstimes.com. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  2. ^ "PIONEER - 10 things you didn't know about Tekong". www.mindef.gov.sg. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  3. ^ "Tekong Revisited". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  4. ^ "Home on Pulau Tekong". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  5. ^ "Runaway elephants on Pulau Tekong". Singapore National Library Board. Archived from the original on 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  6. ^ "Massive manhunt on Pulau Tekong for 3 armed robbers fleeing Johor". ChannelNewsAsia. Archived from the original on April 7, 2004. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  7. ^ Seng, Chen Poh; Lee, Leong Sze (2012). A retrospect on the dust-laden history the past and present of Tekong Island in Singapore. Hackensack, N.J.: World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-4365-97-0. OCLC 1261967172.
  8. ^ "Army Field Training Site Ready" (Press release). 30 September 2006. Archived from the original on 11 May 2007.
  9. ^ "Book on land reclamation case launched". The Straits Times. 2013-08-06. ISSN 0585-3923. Retrieved 2021-10-13.
  10. ^ Lim, K.K.P.; Chua, M.A.H.; Lim, N.T-L. (2016). "Freshwater fishes, terrestrial herpetofauna and mammals of Pulau Tekong, Singapore" (PDF). Nature in Singapore. 9: 165–198. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-07-14. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  11. ^ "10 Army Facts So Secret Even Our NS Boys Don't Know Them". 16 February 2016. Archived from the original on 2020-03-22. Retrieved 2020-03-22.
  12. ^ "NParks to conduct coastal protection & restoration works at Pulau Tekong". Archived from the original on 2010-05-14. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
  13. ^ Victor R. Savage, Environment and Climate Change in Asia: Ecological Footprints and Green Prospects, 2012.
  14. ^ Ibrahim, Hassan. "Saving A Prehistoric Fern From Extinction". nparks.gov.sg. Archived from the original on 30 September 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  15. ^ Singh, Ishan (15 July 2021). "Pulau Tekong: An island of ghosts, and the military men who train there". The Skeptic. Retrieved 31 March 2022.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]