Pulau Ubin Stories

Stories, old and new, about Pulau Ubin, Singapore

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Maternity and Child Health Clinic

Over this last semester, Alvin Lee, a Masters student from the South East Asian Studies Programme, did an ethnographic study of Pulau Ubin and kindly allowed me to publish his results.

Below is an extract from his paper on the Maternity and Child Health Clinic on Ubin that was closed down in 1987 that is now the Ubin First Stop Restaurant facing the Wayang Stage!

A Maternity and Child Health Clinic (M&CH) was set up on the island in 1957 (Chua, 2000) There was a team of nurses who visited the clinic two or three times a week and they attended to the needs of expectant women, post-partum mothers and their children (up to pre-school) including immunisations and treatment of minor ailments. Deliveries were referred to the Kandang Kerbau Hospital even though a midwife was stationed at the M&CH clinic daily during office hours. The midwife attended to this group and visited them at their homes for emergency deliveries and follow-up services. [The 78-years-old Ubin resident interviewed, Mdm Ong] did mention to me that a few of her children were born on the island though I did not have to chance to ask about her thoughts on the services provided by the clinic. The clinic shut its operations on 1 December 1987 with the decreasing island population. Residents had to travel to the Somapah Outpatient Clinic for their medical problems. When reports of emergencies were received, officers stationed at the police post would in turn contact the marine police to transport residents to the mainland.

Also mentioned in Dr Chua's book on Pulau Ubin (2000), according to residents, the Maternity and Child Health Clinic used to be a remand centre for the Japanese and after the war, it served as an opium retail shop (Tan, 2004).

The M&CH clinic's current facade - The Ubin First Stop Restaurant.
Photo by November Tan, 2004.

WildSingapore writes this of the Ubin First Stop Restaurant:

Ubin First Stop is housed in the building that previously served as the Maternity and Child Health Clinic of Ubin. The Clinic was closed in 1987 as the number of Ubin residents fell. The restaurant serves seafood and other interesting local specialities including wild boar. Facing the Wayang Stage, the Restaurant sometimes also hosts large dinners with seats on the wayang stage itself or under a makeshift tent.

Today, as we enjoy our meals at this popular restaurant, how many of us would ever get to know of the location's colorful and exciting past.

Photo by November Tan, 2004.

  • Chua, E.K. (2000) "Pulau Ubin: Ours to Treasure" pp. 36-37.
  • Lee, T.S.A. (2005) "An Ethnographic Study of Pulau Ubin" unpublished
  • Tan, P.T. (2004) "The Colonial History of Pulau Ubin: A neglected cultural resource" unpublished
  • WildSingapore (2003) "Makan (Eating) on Pulau Ubin" (website)

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