More issues to resolve in Ubin

NParks is part of the Friends of Ubin Network, which includes over 40 interest groups ranging from nature and heritage enthusiasts to villagers and researchers.
NParks is part of the Friends of Ubin Network, which includes over 40 interest groups ranging from nature and heritage enthusiasts to villagers and researchers.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

The National Parks Board (NParks) and Friends of Ubin Network (FUN) should be thanked for protecting Pulau Ubin's heritage (NParks working to preserve Ubin's rusticity, by National Parks Board and Friends of Ubin Network, March 18). My friends who are residents at Ubin appreciate it.

NParks, FUN and their contractors have addressed several infrastructural needs and environmental issues in Pulau Ubin.

However, their letter doesn't take some issues and factors into account.

First, NParks said that it "has sought to maintain and enhance the island's much-loved rusticity".

Licensees on Ubin are not reimbursed for maintaining this environment. Thanks to Singapore's agencies, the leases are kept low, but food, drink and electricity come at a much higher cost. Pulau Ubin folk have done much to sustain their homes, shops and services too.

Second, the letter said that NParks' "priorities were to ensure the safety of residents and visitors".

However, since 2016, residents and service providers have been raising concerns about falling income, cyclist injuries, compensation inconsistencies and the over-population of monkeys and wild boars, among others.

First aid is also not available islandwide with fewer staff on the weekends, and the Ubin folk make up for this absence.

While NParks and FUN finally rebuilt one drink stall last year, residents continue to face the danger of roofs and wooden planks falling down. There needs to be greater urgency in these matters.

Third, on the Ubin villagers' concerns about their leases, NParks and FUN said that they "have been working with them to ensure these concerns are resolved". However, there have been no improvements on this front.

Residents recently raised the matter of no compensation with FUN, only to be asked to re-sign leases with no change in terms.

Fourth, FUN said that the initiatives it leads "raise awareness of Ubin's cultural and natural heritage".

While FUN may be successful at promoting Ubin's natural heritage, it needs to work with its residents to ensure that its human heritage is sustained too.

To do this, FUN needs to study, publish and replicate Ubin's methods of building, farming and quarry management.

While FUN may be successful at promoting Ubin's natural heritage, it needs to work with its residents to ensure that its human heritage is sustained too... NParks and FUN should consult those working and living there when designing Ubin's programmes.

This could involve including in its committee Ubin residents who can contribute and add value to these processes.

NParks and FUN should consult those working and living there when designing Ubin's programmes.

The island's residents and service providers are on the same page as FUN and NParks in that they hope to see visitors going to Ubin to appreciate the natural kampung environment with a sense of adventure, and there needs to be more dialogue to achieve this.

Lee Ah Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2019, with the headline 'More issues to resolve in Ubin'. Print Edition | Subscribe