Managing The Tortoise Island: Tua Pek Kong Temple, Pilgrimage, and Social Change in Pulau Kusu, 1965-2007



This article examines the Guiyu Fushangong Tua Pek Kong Temple (龟屿福山宫大伯公庙) and religious activities in Pulau Kusu as they intersect with the larger forces of social change, state management, and development of the Southern Islands since the independence of Singapore for the period from 1965 to the present. It contends that the state’s interest in the economic potential of the Tua Pek Kong Temple, and the attempt to seek profit from its religious activities in particular over the last two decades, has very much affected the temple and contributed to the commercialization and “touristization” of the island. The state authorities have tried to reduce the autonomy of Pulau Kusu, exerting more control over the temple, and management of the island. They also sought to profit from the religious activities, as seen from their monopoly of goods and services, promotion of commercial activities, and their attempt to transform the island into a tourist site.


Pulau Kusu, Tua Pek Kong Temple, Pilgrimage, Grand Uncle, Southern Islands, Singapore

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