'Robinson Crusoe' of Pulau Senang

Mr Adolf Monteiro once described his life on Pulau Senang this way: "I like the peace and the quiet. When I am in Singapore, I can't sleep until the last bus has stopped running."

On July 30, 1965, the 72-year-old former Raffles Lighthouse keeper died from lung cancer. He died in Singapore, "miles away from the Southern Islands he loved so much", reported The Straits Times.

After 27 years at Raffles Lighthouse, he had moved in 1947 to Pulau Senang with his family, and they were the only residents of an island said to be haunted by the ghosts of Japanese soldiers.

There, they farmed the land and built a hut. He was nicknamed the "Robinson Crusoe" of Pulau Senang.

But the family's idyllic existence ended in 1961 when the island was turned into a penal settlement for hardcore secret society thugs.

Mr Monteiro's wife and all but one of their 12 children moved back to Singapore while he and his son Stephen went to live on neighbouring Pulau Pawai.

The Senang penal colony did not last - a 1963 prison riot that led to the deaths of three prison officers led to its closure.

It is now used for military live firing exercises.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2015, with the headline ''Robinson Crusoe' of Pulau Senang'. Print Edition | Subscribe