SINGAPORE — Reminiscing about his first visit to Pulau Ubin in 2003, Mr Nor Syazwan Abdul Majid vividly recalls cycling on a tandem bicycle with his mother and passing by several derelict huts before coming to a stop near the house she grew up in.
CONTRIBUTING TO THE COMMUNITY
This is not Mr Syazwan’s first project on Pulau Ubin.
In 2019, he kickstarted the “WUJ Kampung Clean-Up” project, which he renamed “Project Gotong Royong” in 2022, a monthly affair where volunteers assist residents in maintaining and cleaning up their kampung.
Mr Syazwan cited the island’s increasingly ageing population as one of the reasons for starting this project, as elderly residents would need more help with maintenance.
“This includes raking leaf litter, removing pre-loved items and mainly beautifying the kampung so it looks a little bit more proper and presentable for visitors of the island.”
In December 2020, Mr Syazwan also began offering a paid service called “WUJ Heritage Hike”, where he would guide participants across Pulau Ubin, sharing his intimate knowledge of the island’s rich culture and heritage through the lens of the “orang pulau” (Malay term for islanders) community.
To celebrate Ubin Day 2023, which happens annually on June 24, Mr Syazwan offered his heritage services for free, guiding 70 participants in exploring the island.
WHAT RESIDENTS SAY
Speaking to TODAY, past and present residents of Kampung Sungei Durian in Pulau Ubin are supportive of Mr Syazwan’s efforts, saying that it is important to preserve the place’s culture and heritage.
Mr Othman, 78, who lives in one of the houses in Kampung Sungei Durian with his wife, said that life in Pulau Ubin is alien to most people.
“The reason why I still have so much stamina is that I am staying in a kampung. It is about peace and serenity. Once you are here, the air is fresher, and you can relax more,” said Mr Othman, who goes by one name.
Mr Abdul Malek Salleh, 68, who used to live in Kampung Sungei Durian before moving to mainland Singapore in 2000, believes that it is important to showcase what the villagers had gone through.
“I feel very good about the project. It will showcase the struggles, hard work, culture and heritage of the Malay community in Kampung Sungei Durian and Pulau Ubin.”