TANAH MERAH, Oct 15 – Pulau Raya is not like any other island in Kelantan.
Located about 15 km from Tanah Merah town, it is unique because there are only 12 families living on it and they are all Chinese. The villagers number only around 30 people.
According to the great-grandson of Pulau Raya founder Chung Ting Bun, the island was previousl covered by thick forest. His great-grandfather arrived on the island about 200 years ago.
“He arrived from China by boat and landed on the island with friends.They started living there and soon after, other people arrived and they named the island Pulau Raya.
“However, the number of villagers dwindled due to the isolated location and its distance from town,” said the 70-year-old farmer when met at his home here.
The father of four said not many families remain.
“Our life here is difficult and not the same as those living in other areas because we are far from town,” he said. He said all Chinese villagers are farmers and have their own dokong, duku and durian farms. “We will sell our products to the traders in town. The nearest town is Tanah Merah which is about 10 minutes drive from here,” he said.
Another villager Yap Mek Seek, 66, said the island, located in the middle of the Kelantan river, was connected with Kampubg Jelatok across the river by a bridge.
“We have no clinic and school here, or even banks and sundry shops for groceries. All this can only be obtained at Tanah Merah town.
“What worries us is when the flood season arrives. We will be stranded on the island and therefore, need to take early precautions and buy as much food as we can.
“Even our cars and motorcycles are parked at Kampung Jelatok across the river,” she said.
Yap said the relationship between Pulau Raya’s people and other villagers was good and they help each other all the time.
“Despite living on this tiny and isolated island, we are not forgotten. If there is any event, we will be invited to join the other villagers,” she said.