Pulau Bukom or Pulau Bukum is a small island situated about 5 kilometres Southward of Singapore City. Being only 1.45 km2, there have been several reclamation projects in order to make the island bigger and connect it with its islet called Pulau Bukom Kechil. Pulau Bukum has no touristic value.
The first appearance of Pulau Bukum in the documents dates back to 1828 when it was first enlisted on a British map. The whole island was a Mangrove swamp those times and thanks to its inland fresh water supply, Pulau Bukum served as a stopover for several ships to refill their water supply. That is why a businessperson who has heard of this island has decided to make a water supply company on its territory.
Today, Pulau Bukum gives home to Shell’s oil refinery and plantations. Shell from 1891 is using the island as a kerosene-storing place although at that time it was not based there. Shell is also taking part in the land reclamation projects and it has been enlarging its site.
There is a ferry going to the island from Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal of Singapore. There is no commercial traffic to Pulau Bukum; only personnel working at Shell can go there. As there is no storage of bulk oil in Singapore; therefore, there is a huge Petroleum tank depot with a 4500-ton capacity and Bukum Island. It has become the official supplier for the entire Far-Eastern region. Shell has made the first oil refinery of Singapore in 1961, which is among the largest in the world with a capacity of 400,000 barrels per day. Shell has also built out a living and entertainment area on Pulau Bukum but it is restricted to the workers.
The Pulau Bukum Terrorist Affair: In 1974 31th January around 11.00 am, two Japanese terrorists representing the then active Japanese Red Army and 2 Arab terrorists representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have been threatening to bomb the Pulau Bukum Oil Refinery if their requests are not fulfilled. They were trying to disrupt the main oil supply in order to lead it to South Vietnam for reasons only they knew. This attempt has successfully failed so the terrorists decided to leave and they hijacked a ferry called Laju Ferry with five people who they held as hostages for nine days until the negotiations between the terrorists and the governmental body of Singapore agreed on freeing the hostages on the price of them leaving free for Kuwait. This was among the first terrorist issues, which Singapore had to handle. Ever since their Police and Defence Forces are highly training in order to learn all the Crisis Management and Hostage Management techniques.
Singapore has to deal with several terrorist threats all the time, because of its geographic situation and therefore they do not stop being attentive all the time for any sort of threats. The Singapore military, police and Special Forces receive some of the best training in the world.
Although Pulau Bukum is not a touristically interesting place, as you see, you can teach a lot from it history. Pulau Bukum can be seen nicely from the Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal.