Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Launch of the Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub

On the morning of 28 October 2006, Saturday, a large crowd was sighted on Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Many of whom were the who's who in the nature scene in Singapore, along with a myriad of participants coming for NSS' Fun with Nature program that was held concurrent with the launch.

On the boat ride across the Straits of Johor, I had the honor of being in the same boat as Dr Chua Ee Kiam, author of the book, Pulau Ubin - Ours to Treasure.

Other than celebrating the launch of a long awaited infrastructure dedicated to the volunteers who had worked hard on the island for almost a decade, it was also a excellent opportunity for volunteers from different organizations to get to know each other and catch up with the latest news. There were members from Nature Society Singapore, Green Volunteer Network, NPark's Ubin Volunteers, RMBR Toddycats, NIE Green Club and Wildfilm crew to mention a few. For the young'uns like myself, it's excellent opportunity to meet the seasoned old guards.

(L-R) Dr Chua with Pak Ali; Dr Chua and the Wildfilm Gang (Chay Hoon, Ron and Ria)

In addition to the volunteer hub opening, the event also coincide with the launch of the HSBC Care-For-Nature stamp series whose latest theme was inspired by NSS' Fun with Nature series with Vilma at the helm of the program. The RMBR Toddycats! were all excited of course as one of the animals featured on the stamp series is a civet cat, or more affectionately known to us as a Toddycat.

A glimpse of the stamp series with a civet cat on one of the stamps!

To officiate the launch of the volunteer hub, 3 final tiles were added to the mosaic collage on the outer wall of the building. There I was thinking previously why it was left empty but now we know the reason! The collage was made up with photos contributed by staff and volunteers on the island with the mascot of the island, the Pied Hornbill featuring prominently over the outline of the island. The photos highlights the spectrum of activities that volunteers conduct on the island, from the early days of chek jawa to even the International Coastal Cleanup (ICCS) that happens every year on the island. We even spotted many youthful photos of familiar faces taken years ago! See if you can spot them when you visit the volunteer hub.

The completed mural featuring ICCS!

The new volunteer hub comes complete with a lounge for the volunteers (below left) and even a computer with broadband access for the use by ubin volunteers! The world has met Ubin through the internet for a long time but this is probably the first time Ubin met broadband Internet! Other than previous dial-up modems accessible to the NParks staff on the island, this is quite an interesting addition to the island. Unfortunately it's only available to staff and volunteers. If only IDA will next consider introducing free wifi to Ubin!

(L-R) Enjoying the volunteer lounge; broadband on ubin!

There is also a library with books and resources on Ubin and its ecosystems. This is part of the resource room. Not to forget, the NParks staff will also have their offices housed at this volunteer hub. At the end of the day, volunteers and staff gathered together to celebrate the joyous occasion with a few bubblies.

(L-R)Kenneth checking out the books; Hitting the bubblies!

But the day was not over yet! Concurrent to the launch of the hub and stamp series, Vilma and her team from NSS Education Division was working hard under the sun, having fun with nature with a big group of kids! The morning saw a big group of them gathered in front of the site of the future "Project Green House Ubin", a new eco-center by the Green Volunteer Network. Otherwise affectionately nicknamed "Grant's House" by this Monkey.

Registration and the crowd for NSS' Fun with Nature

There were activities for the kids within the hub with storytelling and videos. But of course Fun with Nature can never be kept indoors! There were lots of activities for them in different stations over at the Jelutong Campsite, otherwise known as the Butterfly Hill.

(L-R) Gathering in what the monkey thinks is the multimedia room at the hub; Fun under the sun in little canopied stations at Butterfly Hill overlooking the sea

Related Reads:
  • More photos on my flickr set
  • Ubin Volunteer Hub, Pulau Ubin Stories, 24 Oct 2006
  • "Pulau Ubin Has Oldest CC With Oldest Chairman" By Jimmy Yap, Straits Times, 15 February 1995
  • " Volunteer Hub Sneak Preview", Pulau Ubin Stories, 27 Oct 2006
  • " Opening of Pulau Ubin Volunteer Hub will boost nature conservation", By Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia, 28 October 2006
  • Saturday, October 28, 2006

    Opening of Pulau Ubin Volunteer Hub will boost nature conservation

    By Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia
    Posted: 28 October 2006 1922 hrs

    Nature conservation and outreach efforts on Pulau Ubin got a boost on Saturday with the opening of the $250,000 Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub.

    The one-stop centre for Pulau Ubin was set up in recognition of the dedication and efforts of the volunteers.

    It is jointly set up by the National Parks Board and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

    HSBC contributed S$800,000 to the Pulau Ubin Conservation Fund last year and S$250,000 of the sum went to setting up the Volunteer Hub.

    The rest of the donation will be used for nature conservation, outreach and research initiatives on Pulau Ubin.

    Pulau Ubin welcomes some 300,000 visitors a year and many got to enjoy guided walks and events - thanks to a dedicated group of 200 volunteers and others like the Nature Society, the Green Volunteers Network, and Pedal Ubin.

    In the last six years, the number of volunteers on Pulau Ubin has grown nine fold.

    With the Hub, volunteers can now tap into the resource centre, which is stocked with reference and multimedia materials on conservation research.

    It also has a lounge and seminar rooms for volunteers to gather for training and networking.

    The HSBC Care-For-Nature Stamp Series was also launched on Saturday by Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu.

    The series features the native wildlife of Singapore like the Common Palm Civet, the Common Flying Dragon, the Black-spotted Sticky Frog, and the Common Tiger Butterfly. - CNA/ch

    Related Reads:
  • Volunteer Hub Sneak Preview, Pulau Ubin Stories, 27 Oct 2006
  • Ubin Volunteer Hub, Pulau Ubin Stories, 24 Oct 2006
  • "Pulau Ubin Has Oldest CC With Oldest Chairman" By Jimmy Yap, Straits Times, 15 February 1995
  • Friday, October 27, 2006

    Volunteer Hub Sneak Preview

    Went to deliever the panels for the permanent exhibition in the Ubin volunteer hub today and got a sneak peek at the new hub.

    The wall of the old community center is now down and the building has a new coat of cheery paint with a new roof. Manicured gardens with bougainvilleas decorate the lawn while back of the hub overlooks the sea. We can now spot the building from the jetty. I even saw butterflies frolicking at the lawn.

    One of the exciting features of the hub is a mosaic tile map of Ubin made up of photographs contributed by volunteers and featuring people and places on Ubin. Toddycats are definitely represented with a picture of the civet cat right in the middle of the map!

    The launch of the volunteer hub also coincides with the launch of a stamp series entitled Fun with Nature, inspired by the namesake program conducted by NSS for kids, with NSS' Vilma at the helm of course. We had a gathering of familiar faces today on the island with Angie (NSS) bumping to me on the bumboat (pun intended) and then encountering Choon Beng (Nparks), Andrew and Vilma (NSS) on the jetty with promise of Grant (GVN) waiting for us at the hub. It's all fun and bustle as we set up our exhibition.

    Can't wait to see the guests learning more about volunteers and work on the island. In fact the guest of honor's presence on the island tomorrow must have resulted in the presence of army rovers on the island! We were surprised but speculations were that they were barged over from the nearby Pulau Tekong.

    Military vehicles spotted on the island!

    There will also be a children's program concurrently happening with the launch while Toddycats' Pedal Ubin will be having a leisure ride for members and guides with an interview on wheels happening for new members.

    My Ubin Friday ended with me sharing about Pedal Ubin and Pulau Ubin Stories at an event with the NUS community. In addition, a chinese newspaper article about Ubin by a journalist from Malaysia was sent to me and will be posted on here soon!

    The place to meet - Meeting Point 1!

    Definitely looking for another Ubin day tomorrow.

    Related Reads:
  • More photos on my flickr set
  • Ubin Volunteer Hub, Pulau Ubin Stories, 24 Oct 2006
  • "Pulau Ubin Has Oldest CC With Oldest Chairman" By Jimmy Yap, Straits Times, 15 February 1995
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Ubin Volunteer Hub

    One of the key landmarks of Ubin has always been the community center along the coast, in front of the basketball court, otherwise known as "meeting point 1".

    The old Ubin community center. Taken from wildsingapore.com.

    The community center served the thriving population on the island and on 15 February 1995, it was even featured on the Straits Times as the "oldest CC with [the] oldest headman" in Singapore.
    "PULAU UBIN COMMUNITY CENTRE can boast of many things. It is the oldest community centre in Singapore and is the only island community centre left. Mr Lim Chye Joo, 89, the chairman of the Community Centre Management Committee (CCMC), is Singapore's oldest serving chairman, having been in the position for the past 28 years. The CC was renovated two years ago at a cost of more than S$20,000. The old plank walls were replaced with brick, a new roof was put on, and the flooring was done up. It now looks brand new."
    A decade later, the community center will yet again be renovated. However, this time, it will be taking on a new persona, as the new Ubin Volunteer Hub.

    Notice of construction outside the old CC in August 2006

    Signs of construction in August 2006

    I was informed that some construction had to be done to convert the old CC to the new hub as the roof was leaking. But rest assured, the CC will again be revitalized and be the place where people will come together just as it served the Ubin residents for decades before it closed on 1 September 2003.

    Almost at completion in October 2006.

    Seeing how the volunteer hub is scheduled for completion on 25 October 2006, and the launch for the newly dubbed "Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub" scheduled on 28 October 2006, everybody must be scurrying around, getting ready.

    Many of the volunteer groups with activities on the island have been invited to contribute to the volunteer hub and RMBR Toddycats and Pedal Ubin will be contributing several panels to the hub. They should be seen decorating the walls of the hub by Saturday. Pulau Ubin Stories will be featured as well of course. I will be popping by on Friday to deliever the panels and check out the progress of works myself.

    More reports later.

    Related links:
  • "Pulau Ubin Has Oldest CC With Oldest Chairman" By Jimmy Yap, Straits Times, 15 February 1995
  • Ubin Volunteer Hub Photo Set on Flickr by November Tan.
  • Saturday, October 07, 2006

    Mr Lim Chye Joo, BBM

    Orbituary from the Lianhe Zaobao on 7 October 2006, Saturday


    Pulau Ubin headman, 101, dies

    Straits Times Interactive
    Oct 7, 2006

    Photo by Dr Chua Ee Kiam

    PULAU Ubin has lost its headman and oldest resident.

    Mr Lim Chye Joo, 101, died on Thursday at his home on the island, where he had lived for more than 70 years.

    The centenarian, who had nine children, had been the Pulau Ubin headman for more than 30 years, frequently intervening to resolve conflicts between families and neighbours.

    He was often involved in fund-raising activities and even helped set up a school on the island.

    Mr Lim was also known to wake up at 5am daily to walk around the island, until a bladder problem confined him to a wheelchair 10 years ago.

    When he was 80, he survived a bout of prostate cancer and came through relatively unscathed, having only to take the occasional painkiller.

    However, the disease struck him again three months ago.

    After a brief hospital stay, his condition worsened. A week ago, he was only able to eat oatmeal and drink milk.

    On Thursday afternoon, Mr Lim died after an hour-long coughing fit.

    His wake will be held at the void deck of Block 230, Pasir Ris Street 21 until next Wednesday.

    Share your memories of Mr Lim Chye Joo on the Focus Ubin Forum. Read more on the dedication page of focus ubin website.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    Headman's Wake

    Ubin Headman Mr Lim Chye Joo's wake will be held at the void deck of Blk 230 Pasir Ris St 21 until 11 October 2006. The cremation will then take place at Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium.

    Mr Lim's wife was buried on the island but it remains to be seen if Mr Lim can or will be lay to rest beside her.

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    In memory of the headman

    In July 2004, NParks' newsletter Ubin Tides conducted an interview with the Pulau Ubin headman, Mr Lim Chye Joo. In memory of Mr Lim, I am republishing and archiving the interview article here on Pulau Ubin Stories.

    The Headman Speaks
    Ubin Tides Volume 4, No. 2 (Jul 2004)

    Mr Lim Chye Joo is well known to those who visit Ubin regularly. As the village headman for the island over the last few decades, he has represented the villagers on many public issues. Although wheelchair bound now, Mr Lim can still be seen regularly being pushed on his rounds at the village centre. His position and honor of being Ubin’s oldest man (currently 102 years old) meant that he is a gemstone of information on Ubin’s earlier days. We paid a visit to him at his house for an interview and were warmly invited in for a cup of tea.

    Mr. Lim, how did you first arrive in Singapore and why did you decide to settle in Ubin?

    I arrived in Singapore in late 1936 from Swatow, China. I sailed in a junk and the journey took us over one month. On a friend’s recommendation, we moved to Ubin and set up a small provision shop business. We grew some vegetables and reared poultry at the same time.

    How did you become the village headman and was it a challenging job?

    Actually there was no official appointing of village headman. After staying here for a fairly long time, many residences started addressing me as their village headman. At that time, no one really cared for the position as we were leading a very simple life and everyone was enjoying this pace of life. However, we all agreed that we needed someone to represent our villagers in times of need. The headman’s role is not as challenging as the title sounds. The village was very peaceful and the villagers enjoyed their way of living. No one attempted to make trouble, as everyone was just concerned about bringing bread home.

    What was Ubin like then?

    There were no proper roads on the island itself and there were many forested areas. Everyone living here was working from dawn till sunset to earn a living. In those days, life was hard but simple. Most of the villagers were working in the quarries for the British while there are others working in the rubber plantations. Most of us planted fruit trees, vegetables and reared poultry at home for sale at the main village square. Besides that, we have Malay villagers who fished for a living. Starting from the sixties, many people from Singapore mainland came here to farm and mine, with the population reaching almost four thousand in the eighties.

    How has the nature in Ubin changed since you first stepped onto the island?

    Flying foxes are not as commonly found as before. We regarded them as pests then, feeding on our fruits. The villagers had to keep them away by laying poison on flowering buds or shooting them down with a catapult. Large parts of the original forest were cleared and replaced by coconut palms, durians and other tropical fruits planted by the villagers.

    What are some of the incidents in Ubin that have left the deepest impressions on you?

    I remember during the Japanese Occupation, how the island was not as chaotic as in Singapore mainland. As long as you bow to the Japanese soldiers when you pass them, they would not make trouble. When any villager sighted Japanese soldiers making rounds, he would cycle around on the bicycle to inform the families with young Chinese woman to hide in the Malay villagers’ houses since the Japanese seldom disturb the Malays. Such was the kampong spirit of helping each other.

    The simple way of living in those days is something I cherished most of all.

    Rest in peace

    The 101 years old headman of Pulau Ubin, Mr Lim Chye Joo, passed away at his home on Pulau Ubin today, 5 October 2006 at 11.11am. His wake is held at Blk 230 Pasir Ris St 21 until Wednesday, October 11.

    Straits Times reported that:
    "When [Mr Lim Chye Joo] was 80, he survived a bout of prostate cancer and came through relatively unscathed, having only to take the occasional painkiller. However, the disease struck him again three months ago. After a brief hospital stay, his condition worsened. A week ago, he was only able to eat oatmeal and drink milk. On Thursday afternoon, Mr Lim died after an hour-long coughing fit."
    With his passing, it is almost like the end of an era for Ubin. For me, he was the pillar of the island, a reminder of the prime of the island. He was the headman even when my mom was a little girl. He represented in my eyes the pioneers that toiled on the island.

    The news of his death shocked me, and many others, as I almost take it for granted that he will always be there, a permanent fixture of the island.

    He will be missed by many.

    Rest in peace Headman.

    Related articles:
  • "Pulau Ubin Headman celebrates turning 100" The Straits Times, 3 Apr 2005
  • ""Mr Lim Chye Joo, Pulau Ubin's Village headman, R.I.P" Habitatnews, 5 Oct 2006
  • "Ubin Headman Passed Away." Focus Ubin Forum: Ubin Happenings. 05 Oct 2006.
  • Mr Lim Chye Joo, photo, 12 May 2006. Photo by s25251 on Flickr.
  • Village Headman. Ubin's Vanishing Kampung. RGS students project for Cyberfair 2001.
  • "The Headman Speaks", NParks Ubin Tides Volume 4, No. 2, July 2004
  • "Pulau Ubin headman, 101, dies", Straits Times, 7 Oct 2006