A very good morning to everyone, and a warm welcome to Ubin Day! We're very glad today to have the Minister for Education with us this year as our Guest of Honour. Thank you Minister Ng Chee Meng for taking the time to support this celebration of Pulau Ubin � our unique natural and cultural heritage. Thank you very much for coming and joining us today. This is our 6th Ubin Day, we hold one each year, and my 4th time playing host to everyone here.

Let me begin by thanking our Friends of Ubin Network, or FUN. So thank you all our members and volunteers of the Friends of Ubin Network and community groups who worked very very hard for today's event. I know many of you arrived yesterday and stayed over, to make today that special day for Ubin.

We have 15 booths here, maybe even more, including new ones promoting better outdoor and trail etiquette, making Ubin more accessible, as well as one on archaeology by the Institute of South East Asian Studies � Yusof Ishak Institute. There are also many other activities you can take part in, such as guided walks, kampong games and children's programmes.

Ubin Day marks the conclusion of Pesta Ubin, which is an annual celebration of what Ubin can offer to urban Singapore. This year's Pesta Ubin is the biggest ever, spanning over two months, reaching out to more than 8,000 participants. We have seen some 900 volunteers and 45 organising groups working with our FUN members and NParks to offer over 100 ground-up activities that showcase the unique aspects of Ubin.

These include a series of free art workshops and talks conducted by talented local artists and friends of Pulau Ubin, and a community mural painting at Ubin Living Lab � which, the Lab is itself a group-up initiative, featuring Ubin's biodiversity and watercolour paintings of birds. A very big thank you to Ria, Inez and Jing Rou!

In my report to you this morning, I will cover 3 new developments. First, some plans to enhance the heritage, history and community of Pulau Ubin. Second, the opening of our revamped Nature Gallery by HSBC. And third, details of our first comprehensive biodiversity survey on this island. So whether you are a history buff, a heritage buff or a nature lover, or you just love this island, today I hope to be able to say something that will excite you. So let me begin.

Ubin's Cultural Heritage

Ubin's charm, as you all know, stems not just from its rich biodiversity or natural green setting alone. It also has a history and a heritage. The Orang Laut lived along the shores of Pulau Ubin before colonial Singapore. Later, this island was a hive of economic activity � such as granite quarrying and farming. Today, it still has a small but endearing community of Ubin villagers, with a distinctive character of days gone by. Since last year, we've embarked on initiatives � in fact, ground-up initiatives, that represent our commitment to further enhance the heritage, history and community of Pulau Ubin.

For example, House 363B once belonged to Mr Chew Teck Seng, who used to run his own provision shop in the village centre. But after it was returned to the State, we restored House 363B and re-launched it as Teck Seng's Place � in honour of the original occupant, in order to give visitors a glimpse into kampong life on the island in the 1970s.

Many people have enjoyed visiting Teck Seng's Place. The house and the specially curated memorabilia and photographs have triggered fond memories of how life used to be in the past, especially amongst older Singaporeans. And for younger Singaporeans, it is fascinating for them as they look around a kampong house of what used to be early Singapore. Over the past year, FUN members and community groups have expressed interest in helping out in the restoration of kampong houses, in a bid to retain this crucial component of our cultural heritage on Pulau Ubin.

Kampong house restoration project

Recognising the community's interest, we will be embarking on a more concerted effort to restore the kampong houses on this island. In fact, the Friends of Ubin Network comprising volunteers from many volunteer groups, Heritage Society, Nature Society, many green groups, we've got designers, architects, historians, social anthropologists, cyclists, musicians, teachers, and many many people who care passionately about Pulau Ubin came together to discuss what to do about it � heritage, history and community of the island. And what am I going to say today, in fact, came from them as a collective group.

Now, this kampong restoration programme will be the start of a long-term, multi-year effort with the community to sensitively enhance Ubin's tangible living cultural heritage, starting with the restoration of old kampong houses on Ubin. In fact, community efforts have already started, with our pilot project at House 63C. This kampong house at House 63C was built in the 1930s. It was the home of Mr Tan Bak Tee and his family for half a century � 50 years, before it was returned to the State in early 2000.

We wish to build on these community efforts. The Friends of Ubin Network would like to invite and partner you, the wider community, to facilitate the restoration of both existing as well as dilapidated kampong houses on this island. A set of restoration guidelines that are appropriate to Pulau Ubin will be put together, to guide this process. And the restoration of the kampong houses will be aligned with the Sustainable Design and Practices theme of our vision for Pulau Ubin. So you can imagine architects, designers, students, members of the community, coming together to restore kampong houses in the traditional way. And not only do we then protect the kampong houses on this island, we also bring communities together to learn about our heritage, and in coming together, an opportunity to build community through this process.

This programme is but a first step to sustain the unique charm of Pulau Ubin. In fact, it is the existing community's way of life on Pulau Ubin that makes for the living heritage that is special to Pulau Ubin � and this is something that can be sustained only if we continue to anchor the active participation of the community on this island. So this is an island that is lived, it's historically been lived. It is a green island but there is a living community here with a set of values and principles that make this island nostalgic, unique and authentic.

The Friends of Ubin Network has discussed and mulled over this for some time, and our members who come from the heritage community convened a small group and have worked with us to develop some proposals which I will announce now.

Moving forward, we are exploring the possibility of allowing groups and individuals to use and manage unoccupied kampong houses that have been restored, if they demonstrate that they can work alongside the existing village community to contribute to our larger vision for a rustic, nostalgic and authentic Pulau Ubin. We will continue to engage Pulau Ubin villagers and FUN members on how we can manage this process. And at the appropriate juncture, we will invite the community to come forward with your ideas and proposals to make this village come alive yet again.

Revamped Nature Gallery by HSBC

Now that's heritage, history and community. Let me move on to biodiversity and greenery. Apart from our community partnerships, our partnerships with corporate organisations have been key in realising some of these initiatives on Ubin.

Today, we will unveil the revamped Nature Gallery, that has been supported by a S$100,000 donation from HSBC through the Garden City Fund. Thank you HSBC for always supporting biodiversity on the island.

This Nature Gallery is a showcase of Ubin's biodiversity conservation, research, heritage, nature-based recreation and sustainable practices. The revamped gallery features information panels, educational displays and an interactive touchscreen to enhance the experience for visitors. Visitors can view the nature conservation masterplan for Ubin, including maps that highlight its vegetation, biodiversity areas, habitat enhancement and species recovery sites, and other sites on the newly installed touchscreen. You can even listen to the different bird calls of 10 species that call this island home.

First comprehensive biodiversity survey of Pulau Ubin

Now let me move on to the first comprehensive biodiversity survey of Pulau Ubin. Pulau Ubin is home to 720 native plant species and over 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as some 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Documenting this rich biodiversity will help us to better understand the ecology of this island and allow us to better plan our conservation efforts together with the community.

In this regard, NParks will partner the larger research community and launch a two-year comprehensive biodiversity survey of Pulau Ubin later this year. This is the very first time that such a survey will be conducted on the biodiversity of this entire island.

NParks will collaborate with volunteers and researchers from NUS, as well as citizen scientists from nature groups such as the Vertebrate Study Group of the Nature Society (Singapore), Herpetological Society of Singapore, Entomological Network of Singapore, as well as ButterflyCircle, many of whose volunteers and leaders are here with us this morning.

The comprehensive biodiversity survey will focus on key groups of animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, dragonflies, butterflies and moths, bees and wasps, grasshoppers and katydids, as well as intertidal biodiversity.

The results of our survey will enable NParks to update the baseline data for taxonomic groups such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies, and obtain new baselines for other groups that we have never focused on hitherto. The data will help to update the species inventory of Pulau Ubin � and so in future we will give you updated numbers, and aid in the planning of future research, habitat enhancement and species recovery efforts, that we hope will be headquartered and be launched out of the Ubin Living Lab on this island. The results will also be used for systematic long-term monitoring and management of Ubin.


There is much that community and the Government can achieve together, and today's event demonstrates the many fruitful and meaningful partnerships we have built over the years, and reaffirms our shared commitment to retain Pulau Ubin as a rustic, nostalgic and authentic destination for all of us.

I look forward to all of you partnering with us in these initiatives to enhance the living heritage and community of Pulau Ubin. We hope that more Singaporeans will step forward to preserve the way of life and sense of nostalgia that makes Ubin so special and help us to conserve the rich biodiversity that we have on this green, emerald jewel we call Pulau Ubin. So that future generations as yet unborn, will continue to enjoy the unique and rustic charm of this island, away from the hustle and bustle of the active city life. So thank you all, and have a wonderful day exploring the island, and welcome once again, Minister Ng.

Source: Ministry of National Development, Singapore