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The last Malay islanders in Singapore
Published:  Nov 8, 2015 5:31 AM
Updated: 4:33 PM

Sixty three islands located at the south of Singapore were previously home to 10,000 Malays who set up settlements, farmed and fished.

But all these are now a thing of the past. Most of the islands have been converted to petroleum industry use, as well as for military and tourism purposes.

Photographer Zakaria Zainal said he and his friends had managed to track down more than 100 residents for their documentary titled ‘Island Nation’.

The associate photographer for creative agency Captured explained that the Malays on the islands were resettled on the Singapore main island in the mid 1990s.

Some of them consider that the flats received as compensation were nothing more but prisons.

Zakaria said they were forced to go through with the project hastily as they were worried that they would not be able to capture the verbal history from the people there.

One of the people they interviewed passed away before the project was completed.

Some of the individuals, said Zakaria, could only shed tears when they think about the boats and the fish which were their source of livelihood.

“When the government offered compensation, some were okay with this as their children did not have to wake up as early as 5am to catch the boat to go to school.

“But some feel that their heaven is no longer around. Their ancestors’ way of life where money is not needed is no longer practiced,” said Zakaria.

The documentary also captures the life of Mohamed Sulih Supia, the only individual who still resides in Sekijang Bendera Island, which is also known as St John’s Island.

Sulih will ride a boat to the main island once a week for Friday prayers, which costs him S$18 per trip.

The documentary also chronicles the life of fishermen in Seking Island as well as Semakau Island who still go to sea to capture fish in traps.

This project is one of the initiatives of the Singapore Memory Project under the National Library Board.

The project aims to present the country’s recollections in conjunction with the republic’s 50th birthday.

Bedah Din, 76, menikmati riadah di pantai Pulau Sekijang Bendera, kini dikenali dengan nama St John's Island. Jurugambar, Edwin Khoo merakam pertemuan semula Bedah dengan rakan sekolahnya di pulau ini. Siri dokumentari Island Nation merupakan salah satu projek Singapore Memory Project @iremembersg. Ia sempena sambutan ulang tahun ke-50 negara republik itu. Laporannya di laman tidak lama lagi. #sgmemory #sg50 #melayu #singapura #nelayan

A photo posted by Malaysiakini (@malaysiakini) on

Kumpulan nelayan Melayu yang mendiami kawasan kepulauan selatan Singapura sekitar 1950-an. Foto oleh Teo Yen Teck, salah seorang bekas pekedai di Pulau Sekijang Pelepah, kini digelar Lazarua Island. Karyanya dimuatkan dalam siri dokumentari Island Nation, salah satu projek Singapore Memory Project @iremembersg sempena sambutan ulang tahun ke-50 negara republik itu. #sgmemory #sg50 #melayu #singapura #nelayan

A photo posted by Malaysiakini (@malaysiakini) on

Nov 8, 2015 at 3:39am PST

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