Pulau Tekong is the second largest of Singapore’s outlying islands with an area of 24.43 km², and the island is still expanding due to land reclamation works on its southern and northwestern coasts which will eventually subsume many of its surrounding small islets, including Pulau Tekong Kechil.
Pulau Tekong is found off Singapore’s northeastern coast, east of Pulau Ubin. Geographically, it is nearer to Johor, Malaysia than the Singapore main island itself. The Pulau Tekong Reservoir is also on the island.
Tekong means “an obstacle”, so called because the island blocks the mouth of the Sungai Johor (Pulau means “island). Wild pigs and deer were once plentiful on the island and attracted hunters from Singapore. Tekong under went so much development after World War II that the wildlife has mostly disappeared (wild pigs are seen throughout the island today). Mainly Malays and a few Teochews and Hakkas lived on Pulau Tekong. Most were farmers, fishermen and shop owners selling sundry goods.
Today, Pulau Tekong is used exclusively as a training base for various Singapore Army Units. Home to the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC), this is also where young Singaporean males are conscripted into National Service. The School of Infantry Specialists (SISPEC), which was situated two kilometres from BMTC, relocated to a new campus at Pasir Laba Camp in December 2005. A new training area, called Sanyongkong Field Camp, has been completed on the reclaimed land south of Dogra Bridge. Built by the Combat Engineers, this field camp will be used to train Infantry and Guards battalions. It also provides habitat to some wild animals that are rarely seen in main island Singapore such as the Leopard Cat, Sunda Slow Loris and Sunda Pangolin.
Next post: My brother’s enlistment day.