From houses on stilts, to eco-houses: Former Lazarus islanders fondly recall their old home

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SINGAPORE – Lazarus Island to many Singapore residents is an escape from the hustle and bustle of the mainland – now even more so, with tiny houses being built there for short stays – but to Mr Rabull Jalel Kasman, it was once home.

Before he was resettled in 1975, the 81-year-old spent languid days teaching at a school that used to be on the island.

At night, he flung his fishing net into the inky blackness of the sea. When he pulled his catch in, there would be enough fish, and the occasional cuttlefish, to share with his neighbours who lived in stilt houses above the water.

“Life on Pulau Sekijang Pelepah was really harmonious. The residents always worked together in everything to help each other,” Mr Rabull told The Straits Times, calling Lazarus Island by its former Malay name.

But in 1975, he and his neighbours were resettled into Housing Board flats in Telok Blangah to make way for what they were told would be redevelopment on Lazarus.

Nearly half a century later, redevelopment is finally taking shape in the form of “tiny houses”.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan announced in Parliament on Feb 28 that Lazarus Island will be transformed over the next three years into a “light touch” destination. This means visitors will be able to experience the island’s rustic charm while minimising their impact on the environment.

The first of the initiatives, run by Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), is Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus Island. Five “tiny houses”, between 150 sq ft to 170 sq ft in size, will be launched for the public to stay in from May.

In response to ST queries on whether the histo...

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