Sunday Times, March 12, 2006
Welcome to Pulau Amat Belanda, second home to many Singapore men who visit their 'weekend wives' there
By Arlina Arshad
THERE is an island near Batam that receives, almost exclusively, male Singaporean visitors.
When the men get off the boat, they pay 25,000 rupiah (about $5) to register with the security men. Their passports are checked, and details such as their names, IC numbers and Singapore addresses noted.
Then they head to the homes of their 'weekend wives', rooms rented in stilted wooden houses.
This is Pulau Amat Belanda, 30 minutes by boat from Sekupang port in Batam, an island that is a red-light district all on its own.
Almost every male visitor to the Indonesian island has an 'exclusive' relationship with a woman there, to whom they give a cash allowance of between two million and five million rupiah ($350 to $900) every month to keep them from straying.
Of the 35 'guaranteed' Indonesian women there, 15 are married to Singaporeans - middle-aged Chinese bachelors, widowers or divorcees.
The wedding is a simple ceremony involving 'paperwork with police and immigration department, and fees of several million rupiahs', said Mr Yusran Zabaruddin, 26, secretary to the island's village headman.
'It's a quiet affair, without the typical wedding parades and beating of kompangs (hand-drums). Official Indonesian marriage books are then issued to the couples.'
The rest of the women simply have a long-term relationship with the men, some of whom have wives back home.
Other men visiting the island are barred from getting close to them, or risk being kicked out by the security men.
It was on Pulau Amat Belanda that the first HIV case in Batam was discovered.
In 1993, a Javanese sex worker and a Singaporean man tested positive there for HIV, the virus which causes Aids.
The island is more popularly known to locals as Pulau Babi, or Pig Island. History has it that local Chinese used to rear pigs there in the 1970s and supply them to Singapore via wooden sampans.
The island consists of a mere 3ha of land and 2ha of beach and sea area, on which there are 56 wooden houses on stilts.
Johan (not his real name), a Singaporean in his 40s, likes the laid-back lifestyle there.
First, there is no way the women can cheat, as 'the only way to get in and out of this island is by boat so the girls can't run anywhere', he said.
Then there are the 'security men', appointed by the local authorities to look after the welfare of both the women and visitors.
Besides the weekend wives, there are also about 100 'freelancers' living on the island.
Women The Sunday Times spoke to hail from other parts of the country. A portion of what they earn is sent to their families in Java and Sumatra.
Many have told their families and children that they work in shops and factories in Batam.
They would not mention working on the infamous Pulau Amat Belanda, which was named after its 'big-sized, fair-skinned and sharp-nosed' Malaysian owner Ahmad, who resembled an Orang Belanda, or Dutchman.
Some of the couples buy the cheap houses on the island and rent out rooms to 'freelancers' for 250,000 to 300,000 rupiah a month, and to visitors for 30,000 rupiah a day.
Madam Kokom, 28, and her Singaporean shopkeeper husband bought a house there for $7,000 after they tied the knot five years ago.
She earns more than $200 a month from renting out six rooms, which covers food and utility bills.
'My husband visits twice or thrice a month and he will bring rice and other groceries,' she said.
Madam Kokom, who has a young son in Sumatra from a previous marriage, said she is selling the house so she can move to Belakang Padang island, a five-minute boat ride away.
One of the 34 villages on Belakang Padang is called Kampung Tanjung, where she said other weekend wives of Singaporeans live.
'I have a family in Sumatra to support and I can't depend on the rental income forever. Maybe I can earn more if I open a shop in the villages,' she added.
On a visit to the island last Saturday, The Sunday Times saw four elderly Singaporean men flirting with their wives over a dinner of rice and seafood at one of the island's five restaurants.
One balding man proclaimed his love for his partner aloud, saying: 'Saya cinta awak', which means 'I love you' in Malay.
The security register logged 21 Singaporean men that day.
Said village headman Amir Das Pasiribu, 68: 'Singaporean men who come here are old and lonely.
'Over here, the women do not discriminate against them even if they are old or blue-collar workers.
'They are respectful and perhaps that's why many Singaporean men are drawn here.'
Many of the 'freelancers' are not too happy to serve the older men, who they say are sexually insatiable, but they are still hoping to settle down with a Singaporean one day.
As 20-year-old Ningsih said: 'It is not easy servicing different men; better to just stick with one.'
12 March 2006
Special Island For Singaporeans and Their Indonesian Sex Partners
Mr Wang does not really have a lot to say about the article below. Mr Wang is posting it here just so that he can refer to it in future - when anyone starts talking about how AIDS is mainly due to gay Singaporeans' promiscuous activity; or how young Singaporeans are so very lacking in moral values today. Then Mr Wang can point to the straight Singaporean uncles and ah peks below and offer the ill-informed some food for thought.
Posted by Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang at Sunday, March 12, 2006