SEA STATE 2: As Evil Disappears

Charles Lim

DOI: 10.33671/ISS01LIM

Pulau Sajahat was an island in Singapore’s waters.


Maps courtesy of Maritime and Port Autharity, Singapore
It is uncertain when, between 1997 and 2007, Pulau Sajahat disappeared from Singapore’s nautical charts. Above are two charts — from 1996 an the left,
and 2007 on the right. Grid sector 0214 reveals that by 2007, Pulau Sajahat had become landlocked – and it continues to exist as something else.


The current land reclamation project began in the 1960s, mainly using material excavated from the hills of Singapore. However, this process had been in effect as early as the 1820s, when Singapore was part of the Straits Settlements.

They thought the matter over three days. Then it occurred ta Mr Raffles that the small hill near Tangjong Singapura might be broken up and the earth used for banking on the near side of the river. The next day the two of them considered this idea and agreed to it. The people must have been amazed to see the work being carried out. The next day men under the orders of Mr Raffles and Mr Farqguhar came round calling for Chinese, Malay and Indian Labourers, and some two or three hundred labourers were paid one rupee per head per day to dig and carry earth.

Abdullah, Abdul Kadir Bin, and A, H. Hill. The Hikayat Abdullah; The Autobiography of Abdullah Bin Abdul Kadir, 1797-1854, Singapore: Oxford UP, 19685.

Map courtesy of Maritime and Port Authority, Singapore


In 1975, this method of excavating hills to build new land elsewhere
was halted; imported sand was used instead.


A fleet of tugboats tow sand barges to Singapore.


The Goryo 6 Ho Hyundai dredger was designed to suck sand from the seabed. Here, it operates near Nipah Island, Indonesia.



In the Pulau Karimun Free Trade Zone, hills are being excavated for land reclamation in Singapore.


Pulau Pelampeng, Indonesia, 2008


This island, like the neighbouring Nipah Island, has borne the brunt of sand dredging.

In 2003, Nipah Island, which lies on the Singapore- Indonesia border, disappeared completely under the waves, “with only 3 to 4 palms trees visible to mark the island’s location,” according to the local NGO Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia. 

Milton, Chris. “The Sand Smugglers.” Foreign Policy. The FP Group, 4 August 2010. http//www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/ 2010/08/04/the_sand_smugglers (accessed October 2012)

Singapore land reclamation: View from the sea

1997 Malaysia bans the export of sand.
(The Straits Times, 25 January 2007)

2007 Indonesia bans the export of sand.
(Ministry of Trade of Republic of Indonesia regulation number: 02/M-DAG/PER/1/2007)


Pulau Sajahat
“jahat” translates as “evil” (Malay language)

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