Jul 6, 2007

Chek Jawa Nostalgia

As the Chek Jawa boardwalk will be launched tomorrow (7 Jul 07), I thought it appropriate to indulge in some nostalgia.

Chek Jawa has deeply influenced me. Much of what I am involved in today arises from my experiences on this marvellous shore and with the amazing people that came together for it.

Here are some of my personal experiences on Chek Jawa.

This was among my first photos of Chek Jawa. I never imagined such a magical place could exist in urban Singapore!

Here is the man who introduced Chek Jawa to Singapore; Joseph Lai. Who continues to inspire us today via his eart-h.com website and his work for nature.

A simple dirt road led to this amazing shore. And often, we were accompanied by Priscilla the Pig, a friendly tame wild boar. She was a pet of one of the residents at Chek Jawa. When the residents were resettled, she had to be left behind. She continued to welcome us whenever we visited, snuffling hopefully for a handout, or just wandering with us on the shore.

For the first Public Education walk, Loh Tse-Lynn made a heartfelt welcome sign with lots of spirit, if not enough yellow spray paint.
The public education walks were organised by the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and conducted by volunteers for Chek Jawa who came from all walks of life.

The walks begin with a tricky shore entrance next to the old broken down jetty.

An included an outdoor education exhibition provided by the Museum.

Many of the RMBR public education walks were overwhelmingly subscribed.

During one such walk, with hundreds of visitors crowding the shore, the only place where N. Sivasothi could give a quiet pre-walk briefing to volunteer guides was in the water!

The news that reclamation would be deferred was totally unexpected! Volunteers and friends celebrated the event with a toast to Chek Jawa on 1 Jan 02.

The sombre 'Remember Chek Jawa' buttons that were distributed to visitors before deferment was immediately changed to the joyful 'Chek Jawa is ALIVE!' button!

NParks took over responsibility for running the public walks, and the announcement to this effect was cheekily hung on an earth-mover parked near the shore.

The original volunteers of Chek Jawa readily took on the challenge of continuing the public walks. Not only conducting the walks but also providing training for new guides. Here N. Sivasothi is briefing NParks staff. This was all obviously old hat to Priscilla, who is not really paying attention.

Training included field orientation, here conducted by Dr Chua Ee Kiam, for the first batch of volunteers trained under the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

With the overwhelming demand for walks, on-the-job training was instituted to speed up the development of trained guides. Fortunately, there was strong response from all walks of life and a new corp of volunteers soon ensured that the public could continue to experience Chek Jawa's marvels.

Alan Tan was one of the first new volunteers and is currently one of the lead trainers for the Ubin NParks Chek Jawa guides.Chek Jawa thrilled all visitors!

Zeehan Jaafar introduces Chek Jawa to the young...

... and the younger are also fascinated by Chek Jawa's natural treasures.
Reclamation at Chek Jawa was deferred on 14 Jan 2002, for ten years.

I hope Chek Jawa will remain for our children and theirs!

More links
Lots more photos and stories of old Chek Jawa on wildsingapore flickr

The Chek Jawa webpage prior to deferment of reclamation: with details of efforts including public education, scientific work, checklists, websites, galleries, guestbook entries by visitors, proposals to the authorities.

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