|Area||24.43 km2 (9.43 sq mi)|
|Planning Area||North-Eastern Islands
|Member of Parliament|
|Transport SAF Changi Ferry Terminal |
Pulau Tekong Hot Spring
Pulau Tekong, also known colloquially as Tekong, is the second-largest of Singapore's outlying islands and found off Singapore's northeastern coast, east of Pulau Ubin. The island is used by the Singaporean military and is not open to the general public. Transport to the island for permitted persons is via SAF Changi Ferry Terminal.
The 24.43 km2 (6,037 acres) island is expanding due to land reclamation works on its southern and northwestern coasts which will eventually subsume many of its surrounding small islets, including the 89-hectare (220-acre) Pulau Tekong Kechil.
Pulau Tekong appears in the Franklin and Jackson's 1828 map as Po. Tukang. 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.
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. 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.
On 29 May1990, national servicemen spotted a family of three Indian elephants which had swum 1.5 km (0.9 mi) across the Straits of Johor. 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.
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.
Land reclamation work is currently undergoing off the southern part of the island. Malaysia has referred the reclamation issue to International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in July 2003. Subsequently, the tribunal ordered a year-long joint study on the issue. The conflict was resolved in April 2005 following the signing of an agreement between the two countries. The agreement includes modifications of the island in "Area D". The signed agreement was sent to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for final judgment.
A book, Malaysia & Singapore: The Land Reclamation Case - From Dispute To Settlement, on the reclamation case was written by Lionel Yee, Tommy Koh and Cheong Koon Hean, who were part of the Singapore team who presented Singapore case to the ITLOS and published in 2013.
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 another islands, Pulau Sudong, Pulau Pawai & Pulau Senang.
The Basic Military Training Centre is based here where recruits to the Singapore Army are trained in basic military craft. 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 Singapore such as the leopard cat, Sunda slow loris and Sunda pangolin. 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.
The National Biodiversity Centre and National Parks Board (NParks) will be conducting coastal protection and restoration works at the north-eastern coastline of Pulau Tekong which suffers from coastal erosion. The National Biodiversity Centre stated that the erosion resulted from the 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 remaining mangrove areas in Singapore with a mature and undisturbed habitat. Ecologists point out that the island is extremely rich in biodiversity and resident to some rare or endangered species, including the Fern Dipteris conjugata.
In popular culture
In Singaporean folklore, the island is deemed to be extremely haunted. The Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (now MediaCorp) Channel 8 drama "Son of Pulau Tekong" 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.
- "PIONEER - 10 things you didn't know about Tekong". www.mindef.gov.sg. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
- "Tekong Revisited". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
- "Home on Pulau Tekong". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
- "Runaway elephants on Pulau Tekong". Singapore National Library Board. Archived from the original on 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
- "Massive manhunt on Pulau Tekong for 3 armed robbers fleeing Johor". ChannelNewsAsia. Archived from the original on April 7, 2004. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
- "Book on land reclamation case launched". The Straits Times. 2013-08-06. ISSN 0585-3923. Retrieved 2021-10-13.
- 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.
- "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.
- "NParks to conduct coastal protection & restoration works at Pulau Tekong". Archived from the original on 2010-05-14. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
- Victor R. Savage, Environment and Climate Change in Asia: Ecological Footprints and Green Prospects, 2012.
- Ibrahim, Hassan. "Saving A Prehistoric Fern From Extinction". nparks.gov.sg. Archived from the original on 30 September 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2003), Toponymics - A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern Universities Press, ISBN 981-210-205-1
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