More than 100 young families visit Pulau Ubin to learn about nation building

Dr Maliki Osman (in red) taking a photo with scouts from Metta School at Pulau Ubin at the Siglap Island Trail @ National Day celebrations on Wednesday morning (Aug 9).
Dr Maliki Osman (in red) taking a photo with scouts from Metta School at Pulau Ubin at the Siglap Island Trail @ National Day celebrations on Wednesday morning (Aug 9).ST PHOTO: LIM MIN ZHANG

SINGAPORE - More than 100 young families celebrated National Day at Pulau Ubin on Wednesday morning (Aug 9) with lessons from the early years of Singapore's independence.

Some 520 Siglap residents, many with children aged 12 or younger, took part in activity stations along a round-the-island trail. They learnt about challenges Singapore faced in the past, such as racial riots and the need for water conservation.

For example, at Teck Seng's Place, one of the preserved landmarks on Pulau Ubin, participants were taught about the Bukit Ho Swee fire of 1961, which was a key event that led to the Government's shift to the public housing programme.

They were also treated to traditional food such as gem biscuits, ice lollies, and jagung urap, or steamed corn with coconut shavings, at the station.

Some of the participants had woken up as early as 5am to catch the 10-minute bumboat ride to the island.

The whole trail was 2.6km long and included six stations.

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

Chairman of the organising committee and businessman David Tan, 50, one of the more than 200 volunteers involved in running the event, said: "Even though this was hard work, we felt it was worth it to have these activities to gel the older and younger generations together, regardless of age."

Limousine driver Melvin Koh, 31, took part in the trail with his eight-year-old son and 31-year-old wife.

Mr Koh said: "It was something new for my son, and an interesting and meaningful experience, especially on National Day."

Another parent, teacher Tan Huili, 35,went with six other family members- her husband, his brother, her parents-in-law and her two children, aged four and seven.

"It was my children's first time in Ubin. They were disappointed not to see any monkeys and wild boars, but they enjoyed walking on the mud and gravel trails, which was something they never did in mainland Singapore."

Adviser to East Coast GRC Grassroots Organisations Maliki Osman joined the families in the morning's activities, which ended with an observance ceremony to commemorate 50 years of national service (NS).

Fourteen father-son pairs who had both done NS were given recognition packages for their contributions. The Siglap residents also stood up to give a salute to thank past and present servicemen.

"The whole day's celebration is really about looking back and reflecting, and not just celebration, but also asking ourselves 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."