Could Pulau Ubin – Singapore’s second-largest offshore island and one of the country’s last rural areas – be developed and turned into a luxury waterfront residence?

A road network connecting Pulau Tekong and Pulau Ubin with mainland Singapore was included in a recently released Land Use Plan. Cyberita published an article (English translation to be found here) speculating over possible development of the island. The article sparked alarm and outrage among Singaporeans, especially after reading the following comment from a realtor:

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PropNex, Mr Ismail Gafoor, said while he agree that the plan is still far in the future, Pulau Ubin has the potential to be a “dream waterfront residential address, like Sentosa”.

“Waterfront towns with unblocked coastal water view, not crowded and windy are often able to command premium prices of 20 per cent higher.

“Housing on the island is able to attract the same premium,” he said.

Although a spokesperson from the Ministry of National Development was also reported as saying that the road network is part of a “long-term plan” to provide continuity in the event of the two islands being developed in the future – therefore suggesting that there are no current plans to develop Pulau Ubin – many Singaporeans are already rejecting the notion of developing yet another natural space.

It’s a common enough; as Singapore grows increasingly crowded, the government grows hungry for land and further development. Bukit Brown has already fallen victim to development, with graves being exhumed to make way for an eight-lane highway. For many Singaporeans, it’s disheartening to see more and more natural green spaces with historic value disappear.

What really angers Singaporeans, though, is the suggestion that Pulau Ubin could be developed into a luxury waterfront town like the notoriously expensive Sentosa Cove, where housing can command “premium prices” that most Singaporeans will never be able to afford. Such a suggestion once again implies to Singaporeans that their country is not necessarily being developed for everyone’s benefit, and that one day the island might just be a playground for the rich.