Transcript of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Speech at the Launch of Ubin Day on 30 November at 2014 at Pulau Ubin

30 November 2014

 

Good morning everybody. Very happy to be here today for Ubin Day

I come to Ubin every now and then, but not so as often as I would like. First time I was here, I was a school boy, I came with my parents. The longest time I spent on this island, which is probably longer than most of you, is 17 days on a row at Outward Bound School (OBS) as a teenager. Later on, over the years I come back especially for the Ubin seafood, to visit Tanjong Chek Jawa or to rent a bike and cycle around the island. The most recent time I was back was 2007, which was seven years ago now, visiting the new OBS which was very much changed from what I remembered it to be. I have accumulated many good memories of Ubin, like many Singaporeans, and I hope our children too will have the chance to do the same as they grow up. 

It is a special pleasure to be back here again on such a beautiful, sunny and pleasant day. To enjoy Ubin’s richness in biodiversity and to wonder at nature, and to celebrate with all of you - volunteers and students, who take an active interest in Ubin, who preserve, record and enhance it, so that Pulau Ubin continues to be part of our shared heritage and shared memories.

We continue to discover new and surprising things on Ubin. For example, NParks recently discovered that some trees on Ubin was actually a new tree species, unknown to science or at least unrecognised, called Utania nervosa - small tree, about 5m tall, white flowers with a tinge of creamy yellow. 

In Singapore, you can find them on Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong and also in Southeast Johor. Not so unusual, but previously unidentified. We also have endangered mangrove trees, something called the Eye of the Crocodile – there are only 200 such mangrove trees in the world. Singapore has 11 of them, and 2 are on Pulau Ubin.

You have the whole richness of Tanjong Chek Jawa –wetlands teeming with different kinds of fauna and flora, where you can see knobbly sea stars and Perapat, one of our two mangrove Heritage trees 

We also have Hornbills on the island, now 70 plus Hornbills. They are breeding, we provide them with nests in which to bring up their young and they have become quite a common sight, and I hear they even visit the mainland from time to time and fly across. 

I am very glad that all of you are here and contributing to Ubin, young and old, and some starting quite young. For example, students like Choo Yi Feng, 17-year-old, who has been volunteering on Ubin since he was in primary school, inspired by his father who was an NParks volunteer. Yi Feng has become a regular on Ubin, conducting tours on weekends for visitors who are much older, and teaching them about conservation and nature.

This year in March we launched the Ubin Project and formed the Friends of Ubin Network, FUN. With FUN, we can do much more - preserving nature and biodiversity, documenting our heritage and culture, pursuing outdoor activities, making Ubin a field lab for our students and also a cradle of sustainable living. I am glad that through this we have involved many Singaporeans interested in Ubin to come up with ideas and pool the ideas so that we can do something about it.  

One young man, Mr Caleb Loh, aged 11, wrote a report on the future of Ubin, based on a survey which he did, which included more than 100 people! So I think he is off to a good start. Collectively, we have now developed a vision of Ubin that will honour our past, treasure our present, and shape our future. A few weeks ago, I have launched the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint. The blueprint works on the basis that every Singaporean has an important role to make Singapore a liveable and sustainable city.

What we are doing here in Ubin is a prime example of this. So please continue to participate, to give us your ideas, and to visit and do your bit for the environment on Ubin. Look around and ask yourself: “What can I do to make our environment better, to make Ubin a more interesting place” Imagine it, commit yourself to it and we will partner with you to make it happen. Thank you very much.