Place of interest – Pasir Ris Park

Pasir Ris – Sunset by Margaret Leong

Pasir Ris – Sunset


The clouds drew sunset from the sea

For palettes of cerise and aquamarine,

Drew mountainous heapings of blue aside

And piles of spindrift green;

But the spun-foam aerial colours

Were left on an ebony beach,

Till an indigo black opaqueness

Stretched as far as waters could reach.


(Taken from Writing Singapore, pg 183)

Pasir Ris refers to ‘beach bolt-rope’ in Malay which means a narrow beach (National Parks). Pasir Ris, located in the east of Singapore, was originally an underdeveloped area with kampongs and villages. It was well-known for several of its plantation estates such as the Singapore United Plantations and Loh Lam Estate. Pasir Ris beach was a popular attraction for water skiing, picnics, or gatherings in the 1950s, to 1970s.

Today, the new landmarks there include the NTUC resort, Pasir Ris Beach Park, its MRT station and the shopping mall, White Sands. The NTUC resort is popular with the locals for gatherings as it is one of the first luxury resorts fully equiped with the amenities of a country club made affordable for the ordinary Singaporean. The Pasir Ris Beach Park is along Elias Road, is popular for family outings with a playground for the children to play at.  The 35 ha park is cut through by Sungei Tampines and spans between the end of Jalan Loyang Kechil and the NTUC Pasir Ris Resort. It offers a wide range of activities such as water sports, cycling, inline skating and barbeque pits rental. In the park lies a 6-ha mangrove forest for people to explore. Broadwalks are built to bring visitors closer to this mangrove community. Further, another feature of the park is the 3-storey high Bird Watching Tower located within the mangrove forest.


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Pasir Ris Park
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Mangrove in Pasir Ris Park
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In the early 2000s, Pasir Ris Beach was being polluted with bacteria, making the beach water unsafe for people to come in contact with. The bacterium is found in animal and human faeces which may cause gastro-intestinal illnesses like vomiting and diarrhoea if swimmers come into contact with it. This problem is due to the smaller sewage system in the area as well as possible leakages of the untreated sewage into the water. However, with several measures implemented and the massive cleaning up of the beach, it was announced safe for people to swim in Pasir Ris Beach again in 2012.

Signboard to warn people against gong in the water
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The Pasir Ris park is a popular location for people to enjoy the magnificent view of sunrise. This is significant in Margaret’s poem, Pasir Ris – Sunset, as she name the poem with the opposite, seemingly in a seemingly mocking manner, to mislead her readers.  She started off the poem with ‘The clouds drew sunset from the sea’ to create the imagery of a beautiful sunrise at the sea. She also tried to create the imagery of the Pasir Ris Beach Park by mentioning ‘heapings of blue’ and ‘piles of spindrift green’. However, she ended the poem by analysing on the filth of the beach. Pasir Ris beach is easily classified as one of the dirtiest beach in Singapore. Margaret’s mention of ‘an indigo black opaqueness/Stretched as far as waters could reach’ clearly refers to the pollution of the waters. This spoils the beautiful imagery created in the early section of the poem and acknowledges the reality of dirty waters in Pasir Ris Beach Park. In my opinion, this is done intentionally to reflect her mocking of the beach, by creating a beautiful imagery and spoiling the impression by bringing up the pollution problem. This is similar to her chosen title of ‘Sunset’ in Pasir Ris which is clearly in contrast to the reality of Sunrise instead. Thus, I feel that instead of glorifying the beach, Margaret was mocking at it.

Sunrise at Pasir Ris Park
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Another view of Sunrise at Pasir Ris Park
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Dirty waters and trash being washed up the shore in Pasir Ris Park
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