A day out on Pulau Ubin - to learn from the past

About 520 Siglap residents, many with children aged 12 or younger, took part in activities at six stations along a 2.6km-long round-the-island trail.
About 520 Siglap residents, many with children aged 12 or younger, took part in activities at six stations along a 2.6km-long round-the-island trail.ST PHOTO: LIM MIN ZHANG

For the past four years, teacher Tan Huili's family spent National Day watching the parade at home.

But this year, Ms Tan's family of four, together with her parents-in- law, woke up at 6am to catch a bumboat to Pulau Ubin.

They were there for a walking trail organised by community volunteers from Siglap to celebrate Singapore's birthday. "Visiting such places gives us a sense of rootedness and identity," said Ms Tan, 35, whose children are aged four and seven.

The family was among the more than 100 who celebrated National Day on Pulau Ubin yesterday morning, learning about the early years of Singapore's independence.

About 520 Siglap residents, many with children aged 12 or younger, took part in activities at six stations along a 2.6km-long round-the-island trail.

They learnt about challenges Singapore faced in the past. For example, at Teck Seng's Place, one of the conserved landmarks on Pulau Ubin, participants learnt about the 1961 Bukit Ho Swee fire - a key event that led to the Government's shift to the public housing programme.

Participants were also treated to traditional snacks such as gem biscuits, ice lollies and jagung urap, or steamed corn with coconut shavings.

The event was organised by grassroots leaders and volunteers from the Siglap division of East Coast GRC, in collaboration with the National Parks Board.

Limousine driver Melvin Koh, 31, took part in the trail with his son, eight, and wife, 31. "It was something new for my son, and an interesting and meaningful experience, especially on National Day," he said.

Dr Maliki Osman, adviser to East Coast GRC grassroots organisations, joined the families in the morning's activities, which ended with an observance ceremony to commemorate 50 years of national service.

One aspect of the day's celebration was about asking what it means to be a Singaporean, said Dr Maliki, who is also Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs. "Hopefully, the younger generation will then say, 'I have a role to play in making Singapore succeed' in the many years to come."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'A day out on Pulau Ubin - to learn from the past'. Print Edition | Subscribe