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S’porean visitors stole durians from the backyards of some Pulau Ubin residents

How about support resident durian sellers on Ubin instead?

Ashley Tan | July 17, 07:54 pm

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If there’s one food that unites Singaporeans, it’s durians.

However, it appears the king of fruits has been causing conflict between mainland Singaporeans and residents of Pulau Ubin, an island considered to be the ‘last kampung’ of Singapore.

The best durians are apparently on Ubin

Recently on July 14, 2019, a Singaporean by the name of Nor Syazwan Bin Abdul Majid, who calls himself Wan, shared on his online blog the troubles Ubin residents experience during the durian season.

Wan’s grandparents were residents of one of Ubin’s kampungs, and he considers himself a “descendant of the Ubin community”.

According to Wan, the best durians can be found on the island, and are known to be the most “tender, creamiest and flavourful” of all.

Another Straits Times (ST) article on June 8 stated the durians on Ubin were reportedly popular as they were organic, with no pesticides added.

Wan’s mother had also shared several tales of how she and family would excitedly wake up in the night to the loud thuds of durians dropping from the trees, and quickly run out to savour the freshest durians.

Unruly durian pickers

The durian season would apparently see an increased number of mainland Singaporeans, equipped with helmets, gloves and gunny sacks, flocking to the forests to hunt for the fruit.

However, durian trees on Ubin do grow inside residents’ gardens and backyards, and unaware durian pickers often trespass these areas to steal the fruits, Wan said.

According to ST, durian trees found within the residents’ compounds under the Temporary Occupation Licence, belong to the owners.

Additionally, Wan mentioned that people have allegedly consumed the durians on the spot, disposing the husks and seeds around residents’ houses.

The Ubin residents, who are sometimes away on the mainland during the weekdays, apparently return on the weekends to find their homes and backyards trashed.

Not only do the rotting durian husks smell terrible, Wan said, but the leftover fruits could attract wild animals such as wild boars and macaques, which might endanger the safety of residents.

Durians picked on Ubin sold on the mainland

One of Wan’s biggest concerns and the most “upsetting”, was that durian pickers make a profit off durians found on residents’ grounds.

Singaporeans from the mainland reportedly leave with huge sacks of the fruit, which they sell commercially back on Singapore, leaving little left for Ubin residents to enjoy, ST also reported.

Said Wan of the conflict between mainlanders and residents:

“It is an upsetting thing to see visitors and tourists often at throats [sic] with the residents just over durians, which for the residents could have already been planted by their generations before them.”

Free-for-all durian festival

According to ST, villagers and stakeholders have been conducting meetings over in order to resolve this thorny issue.

After 18 months, it was decided that a durian festival would reportedly be held on Ubin, where visitors and residents would able to enjoy the fruits for free.

Residents were informed of the decision, and seemed to have reacted positively. Said village chief Chu Yok Choon to ST:

“I think the sharing of durians through a festival is a good idea as some 80 per cent of the durians here are taken away by groups of people that come in and the islanders don’t get to eat them.”

More details on the festival would reportedly be released at a later date.

Maybe support Ubin’s durian sellers instead?

Wan on the other hand, acknowledged that the festival was a good first step, but that it was “still a long-shot away from tackling this issue completely”.

He proposed three simple ways for durian pickers to be more considerate of Ubin’s residents:

  1. Do not trespass onto Ubin residents’ yards and gardens to pick their durians.
  2. Do not dispose the seeds and husks near houses.
  3. Consider supporting residents selling durians on Ubin.

As Wan aptly summarised, “enjoying our prickly fruit doesn’t have to be a prickly affair, you know?”

Top photo from Singapore Durian Pickers and Chan A H Henry

 

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