The following blog entry was written by Denyse Chua Pei Yun, a first year Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences undergraduate at Tembusu College. She and her classmates visited Bukit Brown on 8 March 2014. 

Cemeteries to me seem to extol the notion of death and seat its weight in the society of the living. A collectivized piece of land plotted to house the dead community, to which the living visits to give flowers and incense and their respects. These skeletons habiting under our feet are commanding our ways of life without as much of a murmur. Yet even with such daunting and ghoulish imaginations of cemeteries, Bukit Brown posits a sense of familiarity and nostalgia – not the eerie predispositions of the phasma phasmatis, but a reminder of culture and nature tumbled in an isolated park-like setting of greenery and avid runners; a platform that accommodates both the living and the dead at a grassroots level.

Conditioned by the media’s chilling and unnerving perspective of such death collectives, and coming from a community where life and youth is celebrated, the fourteen of us wide-eyed and intrigued undergraduate students didn’t know what to expect when we arrived at the largest gravesite in Singapore. Fortunately, we visited the site in the afternoon when the sun was still up and the possibility of the specters of our dead forefathers being in our presence didn’t spook us too much.

We visited Bukit Brown as part of a research field trip for a module on the topic of death hosted by Tembusu College, a University Town College in the National University of Singapore. Our lecturer Dr Connor Graham, who was also present at the site, teaches this module with an unusual level of enthusiasm for the departed. A bus ride down to Bukit Brown cemetery took us on a trip down Singapore’s memory lane, and much was to be explored around the willowing trees and hastily buried graves.

We found ourselves touring with other cemetery enthusiasts on International Women’s Day. The tour was led by a group of avid volunteers eponymously named Brownies, who help to manage and educate the public on Bukit Brown’s history, strategically centered on the graves of women, their stories, and their legacy.

Figure 1. A Brownie in (passive) action

Figure 1. A Brownie in (passive) action

Altruism was a key theme throughout the tour, as the guides shared stories of women both of status and none, who played significant roles in creating and contributing to today’s Singapore, amongst other quirky figures. One specific story of a 19-year-old lady who encompassed the virtues of bravery and heroism spoke to me. The grave of a 19-year-old maiden and her story was reminiscent of the willingness to sacrifice oneself for others, a virtue and value that can I feel can hardly be seen in today’s youth, and I include myself here. Soh Koon Eng was my age in the 1941 when she was unfortunately killed by an air raid during the Second World War, throwing herself in front of her family to shield them from flying fragments of furniture from the explosion. This selfless act cost her life in the most painful way possible, but saved the lives of her family, who lived on to tell her story.

With so much happening in the living world, it is easy to overlook the abundance in culture Singapore provides, contrary to the belief that this island is all but a concrete jungle with nowhere to get away. In Bukit Brown, an area isolated from the perpetual churning of our roaring lion city, the voices of those forever silenced are deafening. Thankfully, we have the Brownies to be grateful for voicing their rumbles, recanting stories of the dead with a whisper of vivacity while maintaining the gravitas of their life, legacy and contribution to Singapore’s modern success.

Coming from a generation of Singaporeans where cremation is the last step in life (and death), it hadn’t occurred to me that cemeteries in Singapore were such an important part of the landscape and were so entwined in national discourse, not only in her history, but also in our present. The sequestration of a part Bukit Brown would be the final effort of legendary figures untold in history books for Singapore, paving the way for the future, and for the living.

Figure 2. Tembusians treading on dead leaves...and around dead bodies

Figure 2. Tembusians treading on dead leaves…and around dead bodies

 

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By Sugen Ramiah

The Qing Ming festival, or  tomb sweeping day, is  observed by the Chinese worldwide. It is a day for them  to pay homage to their ancestors, either by visiting graveyards, columbariams  or ancestral tablets in ancestral halls.

The actual day falls either on the 4th ot 5th  of April, but families have a window of  ten days before or after the actual day to conduct Qing Ming.  This year, I was fortunate to have been able to observe Qing Ming in Bukit Brown and other  locations.

Qing Ming, has many stories to its origin, but is mainly observed as an act of being filial and for geomancy (feng-shui) reasons. The Chinese believe that the bones of their ancestors and the lives of the descendents are inextricably  connected. For abundance in wealth and happiness, firstly, one has to be filial. Secondly, there has to be a good flow of Chi (positive energy) on the forecourts of their ancestors. During the dry season, the  foliage clogs the drainage causing an obstruction to the flow of water.  During  Qing Ming, the drainage is cleared, to allow the flow of water (Chi) onto the forecourt of the tomb.  Qing Ming is also a perfect opportunity for extended family members to get together amidst busy work/family commitments.

Descendents set off as early as first light, to wash, sweep, and weed the tombstones. Inscriptions on the headstones are then re-inked using red or gold paint. A stack of coloured paper or a stone is placed on the headstone to signify that the dead is not forgotten. The paper is also  scattered on the mound of the grave. This recalls how an emperor from the Han Dynasty in China could not find his parents’ tomb  after he returned from war. He was then told to throw five coloured paper into the air and where they lodged, that was the location of his parents’ tomb.

Two sets of offerings are prepared by the families. First set is for the earth deity by the side – a pair of candles are  lit,  food   and incense  offered to the Tu Di Gong who is the guardian of the tombstone. Paper money is also burnt as a form of offering.

Second set is for the deceased – a pair of candles are lit, offerings of tea, fruits, favourite food, and longevity cakes are placed on the tombstone altars.  Incense sticks are firstly offered to  long departed ancestors and subsequently to the deceased.  Incense sticks are placed in an urn and sometimes  around the mound, and then descendents wait for the deceased to ‘finish’ their meal  Sometimes during  the wait, incense sticks are offered to neighbouring tombs – recalling the days of the  kampong spirit.

Once approval has been given through the moon blocks or coins,  offerings of hell notes and silver paper, clothes, shoes and even latest technological gadgets such as the ipads are  burnt for the deceased. Sometimes the required items are packed in a paper treasure box, sealed with the  name of the ancestor and burnt for them exclusively. To conclude, tea or any form of liquid is poured around the offering to “secure”  the area of the burnt offerings, so as to avoid invasion by other wandering spirits.

 

Coloured Paper  placed on the headstone (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Coloured Paper placed on the headstone (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Coloured paper  scattered on the mound of the grave (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Coloured paper scattered on the mound of the grave (photo Sugen Ramiah)

How  water accumulates  on the forecourts of a tomb (photo Sugen Ramiah)

How water accumulates on the forecourts of a tomb (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Offerings to the earth deity (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Offerings to the earth deity (photo Sugen Ramiah)

E - QM

Simple offerings of tea and candy by a woman who comes here yearly to pray for her infant aunt who died during the war. The infant’s burial was not registered so the exact location of plot is unknown.(photo Sugen Ramiah)

F - QM

The Ng Family has to charter a bus  to transport  the entire family for  Qing Ming (photo Sugen Ramiah)

G - QM

The Ng Family has to charter a bus to transport the entire family for  Qing Ming (photo Sugen Ramiah)

H - QM

A young boy from the Pek Family, who looks forward to Qingming annually, as he gets to visit the tomb of his Lau Yeh (Great grandfather) and meet his cousins. Photo taken at the tomb of his Great Grand Father at Hill 3 (photo Sugen Ramiah)

I - QM

The Pek Family at the tomb of their ancestor (photo Sugen Ramiah)

J - QM

The older generation still make their way to visit their ancestor’s grave (photo Sugen Ramiah)

K - QM

The older generation still make their way to visit their ancestor’s grave (photo Sugen Ramiah)

L - QM

Descendents observing Qing Ming in a less taxing environment at the Cantonese Ancestral Hall of the Singapore Hok San Clan Association (photo Sugen Ramiah)

M - QM

Offerings placed at a niche at Mandai columbarium (photo Sugen Ramiah)

N - QM

Offerings of silver for the deceased and gold for deities (photo Sugen Ramiah)

It has been a rewarding experience, to learn from family members on how they up hold traditions that has been handed down to them.  All they hope is that these traditions will be carried on by the generations to come and that their ancestors will not be forgotten. I will close with a quote that is close to my heart.

“To acknowledge our ancestors means we are aware that we did not make ourselves that the line stretches all the way back, perhaps to God; or to Gods. We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love and die. The grace with which we embrace life, in spite of the pain, the sorrow, is always a measure of what has gone before. ” – Alice Walker

***

Sugen Ramiah is a teacher by training and his interest includes   observing and documenting Chinese festivals and rituals conducted by temples.

Read his blog posts on Salvation for Lost Souls here and  here

Read about the tombkeepers’ Qing Ming here

 

 

 

 

 

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All Things Bukit Brown received an email this morning  (14 January) addressed to Raymond Goh. It was from Gillian Mendy (Lim)  from London, asking if her grandfather’s  Lim Hock Seng’s grave was affected by the highway. Her email read:

“Your Bukit Brown website is incredibly informative and interesting.  We have only just discovered about the planned road works through the cemetery.

My grandfather is buried at Bukit Brown and we are trying to find out if his grave is affected by the road project.  The family now live in England.  If it is affected then we would come to Singapore to  claim the remains.  

My father is now 80 and very ill so I would be extremely grateful if you could either help or let me know who is the appropriate person to contact to try and trace the grave because it would mean a lot to him. 
 
The documentation of the affected graves online is very helpful but the names are mostly in Chinese so I have been unable to find if he is listed.
 
I have found the burial register and plot details.  These are:
 
Name: Lim Hock Seng
Date: 9 April 1946
Age: 46 years
Plot ‘A’ 368 (IV)
Register Entry: 1554
 
This was his Death Announcement in the Straits Times.

 
I believe the plot may come under the affected area but I cannot find a list of affected graves showing their original plot number. His name is not listed on the published lists but I am worried that his tombstone may be one of the illegible or damaged ones.
 
We are grateful for any help you may spare, I look forward to hearing from you.” Gillian Mendy.
We forwarded Gillian’s email to Raymond who is presently in India on a business trip and within one and a half hours,  Raymond replied :
“Hi Gillian, don’t worry, the tomb is not affected. In fact Hock Seng and his parents’ tomb are now one of the most beautiful tombs in BB. Hock Seng father is Lim Peng Chin and mother is Tan Po Neo, and I believed his uncle was Lim Peng Siang, one of the pioneers of Singapore. Here is a news of his mother death. You can see they stay in the same address.  I am overseas now , but will be able to send you photos in a couple of days when I am back. Cath, their tombs is in Blk 4a before going to Tan Quee Kan cluster, we pass by a trio of very big and beautiful tombs with exquisite carvings of deities, Hock Seng is positioned on front of his parents’ tombs” Raymond Goh.
We did not wait for Raymond to return. Brownies Sugen Ramiah and Victor Lim were mobilized , with Catherine following Raymond’s directions to a “T” . We found the tombs and  have forwarded the photos to Gillian. She has given us permission to share her story.
” It was very moving to receive the photographs of the family tombs, especially after hearing so much about my grandfather since I was small. The information you have given will be such a great assistance in tracing the family history.

 
When he last visited Singapore, my father spent hours searching for the location of his family tombs but gave up and assumed all was lost.  Even yesterday, when I mentioned that I had found the burial register entry for Lim Hock Seng, my father sadly said that his grave was no longer there!  He will be very overcome when I give him the photos.  My father’s Chinese name is Lim Cheng Ean and he is listed on Tan Po Neo’s tombstone as a grandchild.  This brought tears to my eyes.Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your help.“  Gillian Mendy
Request fulfilled in record time, because Raymond Goh seems to carry with him,  where ever he goes, an inbuilt repository of Bukit Brown in his head and heart.
***
1) The grave of Lim Hock Seng (Gillian’s grandfather) , behind are the graves of  his parents (Gillian’s great grandparents)
Lim Hock Seng (Sugen Ramiah)
2) The double graves of Lim Chin Peng & his wife Tan Po Neo  (Gillian’s great grandparents)
Lim Peng Chin (photo Sugen Ramiah)
3) An unusual memorial stone (about the size of the earth deity) dedicated to the memory of Mr & Mrs Lim Peng Chin located on the right hand corner of their graves. It singles out  Tan Po Neo’s  (Mrs Lim Peng Chin) death date. Note the name of son  Lim Hock Seng and  grandson Lim Cheng Ean ( they are father and son respectively)
Tan Po Neo (photo Sugen Ramiah)
4)  The Earth Deity located on the left hand corner  of Mr & Mrs Lim Peng Chin’s graves.
Earth Diety (photo Sugen Ramiah)
 (photos by Sugen Ramiah )

 

 

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On  2nd  January, 2014, June Tan   witnessed and photo documented the exhumation of her grandfather, Ong Kim Soon. She also shared with us the testimonial of how a promise was fulfilled to carry on the lineage of another family. It speaks to men and women  of honour and ties of kinship which live on till today.

Ong Kim Soon 1  (photo June Tan)

The exhumation of Ong Kim Soon begins, after the family conducted their  pre- exhumation rituals (photo June Tan)

***

By June Tan

My grandfather was an ordinary man. He worked hard to make ends meet and was an honest man of principles.  When he passed away at the age of 47 , he left behind his wife & 6  children aged between 6-22 years old then.

The story I want to share of my grandfather has to start from my great great grandparents.

My great great grandfather Ng died at a very young age. He was in his 20s then. He left behind his wife but no descendants. The women of that era usually did not remarry if their husband passed on. It was deemed to be their duties to take care of their in- laws .

However, my great great grandmother was a young lady in the prime of her life at that time. Her mother- in- law decided that she should not stay as a widow and allowed her to remarry.   She, however,  set a condition for the man (suramed Ong) who was to marry her- that  the first son born by them had to take  the surname “Ng”  (黄). As a gratitude to the old lady, they readily  agreed.

Soon after, my great grandfather was born and he took  the Ng surname. However, great great grandfather Ong soon fell very ill and with his wife they were unable  to produce a 2nd child.  Their son, my great grandfather had  no option but to reinstate his surname to Ong in order to perpetuate the Ong family line.

The older generation is a generation of principles.  It was resolved that the next male child born in the family will carry the surname of Ng to honour the promise of my great great grandparents.

Years later, my grandfather was born and he adopted the “Ng” (黄) surname. In fact, of the 3 sons born in that generation, my grandfather and his 2nd  brother took on the Ng surname as a gratitude to the Ng family.

At age 47,  my grandfather passed away. All that he left behind was a meagre sum of S$24.  The family was faced with the task of paying for a decent  burial place.

Seh Ong Sua (which adjoins Bukit Brown)  was the only cemetery with free burial grounds available for the Ong descendents . My grandfather’s brothers, my grand uncles,  approached the person in charge of the Ong Clan then. However, only descendants of the Ong clan could be buried there. After hearing the origins of my grandfather’s surname, the Ong clan agreed to accord him a burial ground in Seh Ong  on condition that that he had to use his Ong surname on the headstone of his grave.

Hence,  the surname  on his tomb is Ong (王) whereas his children will continue to take the Ng surname.

For these reasons, my great grandmother had “set” a rule for my mum’s generation that they are allowed to marry Ngs’ but not Ongs’ as that is the origin of their bloodline.

***

A few photos from June Tan’s album of  her grandfather’s exhumation.  The coffin was fully intact and the set of bones, nearly complete. With her permission, the  complete album which she has captioned as a photo essay,  is available here 

Ong Kim Soon 2 (photo June Tan)

Setting up the canopy, getting ready to remove the remains from the coffin (photo June Tan)

Ong Kim Soon 6   (photo June Tan)

The remains after the coffin (which was fully intact) was opened with an electric saw (photo June Tan)

Ong Kim Soon 5   (photo June Tan)

The bones are washed with white wine as required by traditional exhumation practices. (photo June Tan)

***

Ong Kim Soon has moved to  Yishun Columbarium. Rest in Peace.

Editor’s note: We would like to thank  June Tan for  sharing her photos of her grandfather’s exhumation and her family story with us. If you are a descendant who has ancestors staked for exhumation,   please share your story with us.

Email us: a.t.bukitbrown@gmail.com

You can read about another  first hand account by a grandson, who witnessed his grandfather’s and aunt’s exhumations, here

 

 

 

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by Sugen Ramiah

While exploring Hill 4, I stumbled upon a tomb of a young man,  by the name of Ee Tean Choon.(E Tean Choon on tombstone)

Ee 2 (Sugen Ramiah)

A dapper and genteel looking Ee Tean Choon (photo Sugen Ramiah)

It was very unique because the tomb was of a modern design in marble.  And so I started a little research on his family in early November 2013.  It was on the 31st of December 2013, while strolling with brownies Peter and Ee Hoon, that I was told that there was another art deco tomb, similar to that of Ee Tean Choon that also belonged to the Ee family, his grandparents. Here’s what I have traced of the Ee Tean Choon  family tree.

Grandparents:  Ee Swee Hin and Khoo Swee Yee

Ee Swee Hin passed away on the 8th September 1942 and his wife  Khoo Swee Yee,  on the 19th February 1955. They are buried together in Hill 5 Division B with LTA tag #1122 and will be exhumed in March.

Ee grandparents (Sugen Ramiah)

Father: Ee Yean Keat

Ee Yean Keat was the eldest son of Ee Swee Hin and  Khoo Swee Yee. He had two other siblings, Ee Yean Bee and another adopted brother – Tan Eng Yam. Born in Malacca in the year 1884, he was educated in a high school there and came to Singapore to look for a better future. He married Seow Joo Neo and had seven children. He first started work with Netherlands Trading Society in 1904. After 6 years, in 1910, he worked as a cashier with the KPM shipping company. He wanted an early retirement after 25 years with the shipping company. However, he later joined the Straits Times Press (Malaya) Ltd and officially retired in 1959 at the age of 75. He was also known as the “Grand Old Man’ of the accounts section of Straits Times Press (Malaya). He passed away on the 24th of September 1968 at the age of 84. The Obituary section in the archives indicates that he left behind 2 wives.   Seow Joo Neo  the mother of Ee Tean Choon,  passed away on the 4th of January 1985 at the age of 102. She left behind 19 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. No information has been uncovered about Ee Yean Keat’s other wife.

Ee Tean Choon (E Tean Choon on tombstone)

Ee Tean Choon  born in the year 1910 and was the first born of  Ee Yean Keat and  Seow Joo Neo of No.350 East Coast Road. He was the eldest of seven children. He married  Ruby Chia Boey Neo , the fifth daughter of Mr & Mrs Chia Keng Chin of No.8 Saint Thomas Walk, on the 3rd of October 1936. Chia Boey Neo the grand-daughter of Mr Chia Hood Theam, was born in July 1914 and was 22 years old when she married Ee. They didn’t have their own children but adopted two babies -Willie Ee Kean Leong and Margaret Ee.

Sadly,  Ee Tean Choon died of typhoid, on the 3rd of April 1938, at just  28 years old. He left behind a young widow and two infants, barely two years after his marriage. The two infants were then adopted by his brother, Ee Tean Cheng   and the young widow returned to her  parents’ house.

Inscribed on the tomb is an epitaph :

‘In the prime of his life death claimed him, In the pride of his manhood days, none knew him but to love him, None mention his name but with praise.’

Ee 3 (Sugen Ramiah)

I believe that the epitaph was taken from  ‘The life of Rev. William James Hall, M. D.:  Medical Missionary on the slums of New York, Pioneer Missionary to Pyong Yang, Korea’ 1897.  It is about how Rev Hall ministered  to the sick and wounded of Korea and his martyrdom.  Coincidentally, both William (Willie for short) Willie  and Margaret, were the names of Dr. Hall’s great grandparents.

Ee Tean Choon is buried in Hill 4 Division C with LTA tag #2612. He has been claimed by the family of his wife, the late Mdm Chia Boey Neo.

Brother : Ee Tean Cheng

Ee Tean Cheng was actively involved in many athletic associations such as the Useful Lads Badminton Party, Horlicks Badminton Party and was elected as vice president of the S.A.S.U (Singapore Armature Sports Union) in 1940. The tournaments, training and meetings were often held in the badminton court of the Ee’s residence at East Coast Road. He worked for Ford Motors and  married to Ong Lian Neo Nellie  on the 15th December 1940. Unfortunately, she passed away on the 26th October 1941 while in labour, both mother and child didn’t survive. She was buried in Bukit Brown and Raymond Goh has a blog post on her life  here

Ee Tean Cheng had a second marriage to  Lily Oon Siok Neo. They had a son, Winston Ee Kean Leng and also adopted the late Ee Tean Choon’s children – Willie and Margaret. He had five grandchildren. He passed away on  3rd April 1999, coincidentally  the anniversary of his brother, Ee Tean Choon ( 3rd April 1938)

Brother:  Ee Tean Chye

Colonel Ee Tean Chye was the  first Commander of the Singapore Air Defence Command and in 1972,  the first Chief of Air Force of the Republic of Singapore Air Force.   He has three children, Patricia Ee, Laura Ee and Christopher Ee.

Son: Willie Ee Kean Leong

Willie Ee Kean Leong was the director of Sankyo Seiki Singapore Pte Ltd. He married  Lim Eng Hong, eldest daughter of Mr Lim Kim San, former cabinet minister and first chairman of HDB. They had two children, Ee Kuo Ren and Ee Yuen Ling.

Daughter: Margaret Ee

Margaret Ee married Mr Richard Png and had two children, Dr Kenneth Png and Keith Png.

Postscript : Unfortunately both grandparents and grandson will be moving house to make way for the new highway. However both grandparents and grandson will be interned in the same block in Choa Chu Kang Columbarium. This is just another story of another ordinary family that has contributed to this country. May they rest in Peace.

Ee 4 (Sugen Ramiah)

Offerings for Ee Tean Choon on the day of the Winter Solstice 21 December 2013, prepared by brownies Choo Ai Loon and Sugen Ramiah (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Sugen Ramiah is a teacher by training and his interest includes   observing and documenting Chinese festivals and rituals conducted by temples. This is his first foray into researching family trees.

Read his blog posts on Salvation for Lost Souls here and  here

References for Ee Family

The life of Rev. William James Hall, M. D. : medical missionary to the slums of New York, pioneer missionary to Pyong Yang, 1897. (E-book) Emmanuel College Library, Victoria University

Announcement. (1936, June 23). The Straits Times

Tean Cheng-Ong. (1940, December 16). The Singapore Free Press and the Mercantile Advertiser

Deaths. (1941, October 26). The Straits Times

Cashier, 75, Retires for Second Time. (1959, December 31). The Singapore Free Press

Deaths. (1968, September 25). The Straits Times

Deaths. (1985, January 5). The Straits Times

Condolences. (1994, September 4). The Straits Times

Deaths. (1999, April 4). The Straits Times

Deaths. (2000, June 20). The Straits Times

The Air Force, Singapore : Republic of Singapore Air Force, 1988

Controlled Growth Restriction Policies For Certain Closed Food-Chain Systems by Patricia G. M. Ee 1992. Simon Fraser University, April 1992.

 

 

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Dec
2
1

A Shared Heritage

 

By Ishvinder Singh

In search of a shared heritage – how a once-forgotten Chinese cemetery re-connected me with my Singapore heritage.

In 2011, when the government announced that a part of Bukit Brown was to be re-claimed for a highway, I was not too concerned. Bukit Brown did not matter to me because the material culture was foreign and I had no intentions of messing with the supernatural. Growing up in a conservative Indian family I was often warned not to venture into unknown territories or investigate matters that did not concern me. Hence, I initially thought that I did not have any business being in Bukit Brown. As a result this non-Chinese Singaporean did not care about Bukit Brown until one fine Saturday morning spent on Facebook.

As I was scrolling through my news feeds on Facebook, a whole bunch of turbaned and bearded statues appeared on my screen that look so much like me!

Sikh guard statue (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

Sikh guard statue (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

They were the Sikh statues of Bukit Brown and more than 24 pairs of them have been re-discovered by Peter Pak who has carefully documented them on his blog, Rojak Librarian.

I was struck by the careful detail of the turban and every handcrafted curl of the beard. Simply, I fell in love with Bukit Brown. I was sold and soon I found myself rallying around the “Save Bukit Brown” campaign, now feeling that this place mattered to me. Bukit Brown preserved this identity and this ideal of what it meant to be a Sikh, which made me and my turban feel at home at the cemetery. There is a pair of Sikh statues which I adore very much, given the fine workmanship and attention to detail. They stand guard at the tomb of Wong Chin Yoke who received the King’s Police medal for his efforts in suppressing subversive organizations as a police Intelligence officer in 1938:

A striking Sikh guard at Wing Chin Yoke's final resting place (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

A striking Sikh guard at Wing Chin Yoke’s final resting place (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

 

The statue is seen with an ammunition belt, is accompanied by a little dog and even the folds of his shirt are so realistically captured. It also has a riffle in his hands. It was a standard issue riffle known as the Lee-Enfield Riffle which is still used by the Singapore Armed Forces’ Military Police for ceremonial purposes. I also like this other statue very much that is much smaller in height and has a small dagger by its side:

A Sikh guard with his kirpan (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

A Sikh guard with his kirpan (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

 

This is known as Kirpan, one of the five Sikh articles of faith and symbolic of a Sikh’s commitment to defending his community. It is just so amazing how much attention is given to make these statues as life-like and accurate as possible.

Over time as my curiosity grew, I began studying Bukit Brown deeper and did things I never imagined doing such as understanding tomb architecture, appreciating grave art and its symbology. The schematic of a tomb resembles a compound, consisting a few layers before you reach the tombstone. Typically in the front section, there would be a pair of Warrior Gods, Sikh Guards or some similar representation protecting the overall property. This is followed by the celestial servants, a pair of Golden Boy and Jade Maiden statues. The earth deity comes next and followed by a pair of lions or lion-dogs to ward off evil spirits. It is fascinating to see that every element had its place in creating an auspicious aura.

 

Triple Lim tomb, rich with iconography Hill 1 (photo: Claire Leow)

Triple Lim tomb, rich with iconography Hill 1 (photo: Claire Leow)

The Sikh guards are not just security guards here. Instead they are elevated to guardians of the afterlife and I find that truly remarkable as it shows the degree of respect and reverence the Sikhs have received.

Ong Sam Leong’s life and death exemplifies this. He was Peranakan and the coolie labour contractor on Christmas Island, a former asset of the British known for its phosphate deposits. Besides labour he also operated a Kongsi, a society on Christmas Island which supplied food, opium and entertainment for the labourers. The Sikh guard statues at his tomb were probably inspired by Sikh police force posted on Christmas Island. British colonialist had capitalized on the commanding appearance by stationing Sikhs to protect British assets and even to squash riots by the Chinese coolies.

Ong Sam Leong's elaborate tomb is a great educational tool (Photo: Claire Leow)

Ong Sam Leong’s elaborate tomb is a great educational tool (Photo: Claire Leow)

 

Sikhs were therefore seen as protectors of property and guards in the eyes of prominent Chinese merchants and traders, both on Christmas Island and in Singapore. My research took me from Bukit Brown all the way to Christmas Island and in this excitement I asked myself if there were other forms of Sikh imagery in Singapore? I was not left disappointed. There are two instances in which Sikh and Indian guards are captured on motives imbedded into the walls of shophouse entrances at Geylang Road and Balestier Road. The shophouse at Balestier road was owned by Madam Sim Cheng Neo in 1928. The Sikh guards here seem to be a stand in for the Chinese Warrior Door Gods typically used in Chinese Temples to ward off evil spirits.

This is remarkable evidence of how Singapore’s unique ethnic diversity inspires local architecture.

There is also a pair of Sikh statues at Katong Park presented in a more contemporary form:

I spy a Sikh guard! (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

I spy a Sikh guard! (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

 

And if you think that these statues could not get any bigger, wait till you see these guards which were placed in front of a Chinese residence in Singapore in bygone times:

(shared by Lai Chee Kien)

(shared by Lai Chee Kien)

 

In fact, Singapore is not the only country which has such Sikh imagery. Penang, Malaysia has one too. This is the Sikh statue standing guard over the prayer hall of the Khoo Kongsi Temple in Penang:

Sikh guard at Khoo Kongsi, Penang (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

Sikh guard at Khoo Kongsi, Penang (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

 

As all these re-discoveries grew over time, I felt that this information had to be shared, so the idea of the Singapore Sikh Heritage Trail was born and will include other sites of interests. I hope that through this trail, Sikhs and Singaporeans will be better able to re-connect with their Singapore heritage. This trail is still in its conceptualization stages and should be ready by 2014. It should be pretty evident that I grew up with the idea that Sikhs are a martial race, that we are fierce fighters and defenders of the community. Most Sikhs come from Punjab, India, that sits right at the gateway of invasion into India. From 9th century till the formation of Sikh empire in 18th century, India was routinely invaded via the Khyber pass by central Asian armies and empires. Sikhism, a peaceful community of believers in the concept of unity and social improvement had to adapt to becoming defenders of their land. The saint-soldier concept evolved when the repeated invasions made it tough to live peacefully. There is a small community of Sikhs known as the Nihangs:

 

A Sikh warrior, Nihangs (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

A Sikh warrior, Nihangs (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

 

They are the guardians of the Sikh martial spirit and still maintain the traditional styles of an early 17th century Sikh army, much like the Samurai warriors. When the Sikh Empire fell to the British, the British decided to harness the martial spirit of Sikhs by deploying them as arms of British dominance over the colonies. As instructed in British recruitment handbooks: “the Sikhs displayed masculinity, [were] fairly uncorruptable and made good policemen.”

In policing the colony, the British further reinforced adherence to the Khalsa Sikh identity through their recruitment policies. Only turbaned and bearded men of a certain height and weight and from specific clans were accepted into the ranks. As such, military service became a domain that could produce and police the British vision of a coherent Sikh identity.

The import of this particular image eventually led to many prominent figures in the Chinese community employing Sikh guards as well, which I see it as a reproduction of that Sikh image masculinity and martiality.

In that space of Bukit Brown, I saw an intermingling of histories, between the Chinese pioneers and the Sikh guards. It was an era frozen in time. Then it dawned upon me that this was not just about “my” people or “my heritage”, but rather was about “our” heritage. 

Sikh guard, meet Jade Girl (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

Sikh guard, meet Jade Girl (Photo: Amardeep Singh)

 

I asked myself, if it was possible to conceive the notion of a “shared heritage”? I surprised myself for having discovered a commonality amongst that bewildering array of personal and collective identities. That was how I reconnected with the Singapore story where Bukit Brown reminded me what it is to be a Singaporean; that we are willing to invite, embrace and accept differences, even taking them to our graves.

If a nobody like me can have the audacity to put myself in an uncomfortable position by learning about another culture, by being in a cemetery, by questioning my own faith, then so can you. Get out there, search and you too might just find a crazy relatable connection that binds us all together.

**

This article has been adapted from Ishvinder Singh’s speech at TedxYouth@SG on the 17th December 2013. Acknowledgments:  Ms. Vithya Subramaniam and Mr. Amardeep Singh in researching and documenting the Sikh statues of Bukit Brown Cemetery, along with the development of the Singapore Sikh Heritage Trail. Vithya is a recent South Asian Studies and Political Science graduate from NUS interested in the intersections of these fields with the visual. Amardeep is a creative photographer: www.amardeepphotography.com

Sandhu_Ishvinder (Ish)

With a passion for history, Ishvinder Singh has set out to document the history of the Sikh community in Singapore. His goal is to create a heritage trail in Singapore that traces places of historical significance to the Sikhs. This idea was first conceived in Bukit Brown cemetery, where numerous Sikh statues stand guard at the tombs of Chinese merchants. Intrigued by this curious sight, he wanted to learn more about the motivations behind those statues. What began as a personal endeavor to reconnect with his past, has evolved into a project to share the collective history of the Sikhs in Singapore.

Ishvinder is a fresh graduate from the National University of Singapore and is currently a supply chain professional for an American Oil and Gas company. He has also spent a significant amount of time in the United States pursuing his other passions of entrepreneurship and business management. At any other time, Ishvinder may be found in Bukit Brown documenting the statues, or in the archives reading up on Sikhs in Singapore.

 

**

What are you waiting for? Join us on our tours at Bukit Brown. You may well run into a Sikh guard statue, or even Ish himself.

 

Related posts:

Ishvinder Singh’s TEDxYouth talk on a shared heritage at Bukit Brown.

Claire Leow’s TEDx talk on how Bukit Brown helped her come home from abroad.

Join Claire and Ish this weekend on a special tour.

 

 

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Pre- exhumation rituals for the nearly 4,000 pioneers who will have to be exhumed to make way for the highway, took place on the morning of Thursday, 28th November.  A short and simple ceremony, it was organised by the Land Transport Authority and  Swee Hong construction company  for descendants. More than 500 descendants together with well wishers and brownies were in attendance.

The rituals were conducted by 7 members of the Inter Religious Organisation.

Prayers were offered for the peaceful move of the soon to be exhumed pioneers to their new homes and for the safety of the people who will be working on the site.

The descendants who arrived were confronted by a new almost “fortress-like” Bukit Brown where barriers had been put up in preparation for exhumations, scheduled to begin in December 2013

Descendants arriving to participate in the prayers for the deceased. (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Descendants arriving to participate in the prayers for the deceased. (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

The area for the ritual prayers was under a marquee enclosed by a metal barrier and restricted to descendants. Registration was required.

Registration (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Registration (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

The area within was quickly filled to capacity

Pre exhumation rituals  3 ( Jennifer Teo )

Pre exhumation rituals ( photo Jennifer Teo )

It quickly became standing room only

Pre exhumation rituals  2 ( Jennifer Teo )

Pre exhumation rituals ( photo Jennifer Teo )

Pre exhumation rituals  1 ( photo Mil Phuah)

Pre exhumation rituals ( photo Mil Phuah)

The scheduled time to begin the prayers was 10am. It was delayed because of the unexpected crowds and started about 15 minutes later.

Religious leaders  from left to right  represented: Jainism , Buddhism , Taoism , Hinduism , Christianity, Sikhism and Baha’i faith (photo below)

Pre Exhumation Rituals (photo Walter Lim)

The prayers begin (photo Walter Lim)

The religious leaders took their turns to pray starting with Jain leader in pink, followed by Buddhist leader. (photo below)

Religious Leaders  Buddhist (photo Jennifer Teo)

Buddhist religious leader (photo Jennifer Teo)

The Taoist leader (in black robes) was followed by the Hindu religious leader

Religious Leaders  Hindu (photo Jennifer Teo)

Hindu religious leader (photo Jennifer Teo)

Religious Leaders  Sikh (photo Jennifer Teo)

Religious leader of the Sikhs (photo Jennifer Teo)

Religious Leaders  Christian (photo Jennifer Teo)

Christian religious leader (photo Jennifer Teo)

Religious Leaders  Baha'i (photo Jennifer Teo)

Baha’i faith leader (photo Jennifer Teo)

The prayers took about 10 minutes and the ceremony was over. A few descendants took the opportunity to also pay their last respects personally to their ancestors and came bearing offerings.

Families conducting their personal pre Exhumation Rituals  2 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Pre  Exhumation Rituals  (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Families conducting their personal pre Exhumation Rituals 1  (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Families conducting their personal Pre Exhumation Rituals (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Family with 3 affected tombs (Khoo Ee Hoon)

Family with 3 affected tombs (Khoo Ee Hoon)

Pre exhumation rituals  3 ( Walter Lim )

A lone offering, but all it takes is just one person to remember (photo Walter Lim)

Victor Lim, a brownie offered his own prayers of remembrance and respect  to the earth deity at the Lorong Halwa gates. Bukit Brown to him is a place to remember his ancestors and affectionately as he is always wont to say “my playground”

Victor Lim : “I don’t know when we can meet again. Since the past 1 1/2 years, we have been meeting with those lonely souls every week. This morning we are departing from this endless,  from a party that needs to be dispersed. Alas, we would still need to leave and this brings me good memory. I wish you all the best, bless you peace when you leave, and may this good luck come forth to your new home. We will think of you now and then, and we will be together , not forgetting the milestones of our social memories and roots.”

Brownie Victor Lim at Pre exhumation ritual (photo Raymond Goh)

Brownie Victor Lim at Pre exhumation ritual (photo Raymond Goh)

And finally, all the way from London, Sugen Ramiah remembers Bukit Brown in his prayers at the Westminster Cathedral. His message : While Rev Fr Paul Staes said a prayer for the dead in Bukit Brown, I too lit up a candle and said a prayer for the dead in the Chapel of Holy Souls.

Eternal rest
grant unto them O Lord,
may perpetual light
shine upon them;
May they rest in peace. Amen

From Westminister Cathedral candles burning for Bukit Brown (Sugen Ramiah)

From Westminister Cathedral candles burning for Bukit Brown (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Amen, indeed amen. A ceremony that seem all to short,  commemorates a farewell to those for whom Bukit Brown has been home for decades. We wish you all a safe and peaceful passage to your new homes.

Read Walter Lim’s blog on the rituals in Chinese here

A postscript. Thursday, 28 November 2013, was also the day the Roundabout became a Road.

28 November (photo Raymond Goh)

Thursday, 28 November : The Roundabout becomes a Road (photo Raymond Goh)

Follow the path of destruction here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dateline Sunday 10 November, Kranji War Memorial.

Remembrance Day was commemorated at the Kranji War Memorial in a ceremony dedicated to those who died fighting for Singapore during World War II. Brownies Khoo Ee Hoon and Mok Ly Yng who attended the memorial service had another mission when they were there,  to seek out the names of 5 soldiers who had been listed as missing in the  Battle at Cemetery Hill (Seh Ong and Bukit Brown Cemeteries).

Based on war records,  Ly Yng had already mapped out  the dead and missing soldiers from the 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, whose last known positions are right in the middle of the proposed 8-lane highway cutting across Seh Ong and Bukit Brown Cemeteries.

Map of last known positions of the Suffolk soldiers ( map Mok Ly Yng)

Last known positions of the Suffolk soldiers ( map Mok Ly Yng)

The 5 soldiers, named  are not the only ones fallen in the battle.

“4x in yellow to the left of  the green box represents 4 individuals known to be buried at that position. At the top of the bo along Lornie Road are know to be  5 soldiers (5x), as with the 1x (in green) at the Lornie Road houses. As these soldiers were located outside of the immediate threatened area, I did not include their names, so as to reduce map clutter.But I decided to keep them in the map to provide some context and indicate that there are in fact more soldiers around the area within the Greater BB area.” Mok Ly Yng.

At the Kranji War Memorial, the soldiers’ names on the memorial wall :

Corporal Davis Angus Adcock
Singapore Memorial Column 53, Kranji War Memorial
Missing: 12 Feb 1942

Adcock  (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Adcock (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Lance Corporal Cecil George Meadows
Singapore Memorial Column 53, Kranji War Memorial
Killed: 14 Feb 1942
———-
Private Harry Thomas Cattermole
Singapore Memorial Column 54, Kranji War Memorial
Missing: 14 Feb 1942
Missing. Last seen on Hill 95, badly wounded on 14 Feb 1942.

Meadows and Peacock (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Meadows and Cattermole  (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Mok Ly Yng clarification of  Cattermole’s position: Due to the large map coordinate error, Cattermole could be buried within 50 m of the map coordinate’s position. in other words, he could be very, very to Oon Chim Neo’s grave too. In fact the uncertainty area overlaps her grave. “

Cattermole's position  in relation to Oon Chim Neo (Mok Ly Yng)

Cattermole’s position in relation to Oon Chim Neo (Mok Ly Yng)

Private Ivan Jonathan Warne
Singapore Memorial Column 56, Kranji War Memorial
Killed: 14 Feb 1942
Buried top of Highest hill Chinese Cemetery East of Adam Road in Adam Road – Lornie Road Area by padre Polain 2/26 Bn AIF 14.2.42 (crossed out May 1942) Effects 2 Identity Discs, 1 cross.

Private Ivan Jonathan Warne’s position is not affected by the road construction. He is listed as the only known unrecovered casualty to be buried in Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery proper (Hill 1).

Warne (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Warne (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Mok Ly Yng on the case of  Private P Sawyer in the map:

“The 5 named individuals on the map were known to have been killed or last seen at those map coordinates just before or after the surrender. But after the war, those who were recorded as’ buried’ could *not* be found again and their remains are still missing. Private P Sawyer is the most difficult to find. His records showed that he had ‘Died in Singapore’ on 14 Feb 1942 and that he was buried on 17 Feb 1942 but this burial record was crossed out at a later unknown date. This leaves him with no records and hence he does not appear on the Singapore Memorial at Kranji nor the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) database or nominal roll, unlike the other 4 named soldiers presented here.”

In battle, the Cambridgeshire Regiment and the Suffolk Regiment fought in adjacent sectors.  The Cambridgeshire Regiment held the Adam Park area while the Suffolk Regiment the Bukit Brown Cemetery area.  In death, casualties of the two regiments are buried in adjacent sections at Kranji.  This photo shows the boundary between the Cambridgeshire Regiment and the Suffolk Regiment in Kranji.

Cambridgeshire and Sullfork regiments are buried side by side (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Kranji War Memorial Sunday 10 November, 2013. Cambridgeshire and Suffolk regiments (photo Mok My Yng)

From Jon Cooper. historian and war archeologist on the Adam Park Project, who also  conducts the Battlefield Tour at Cemetery Hill once at month at Bukit Brown:

‘The fate of the missing Suffolks on Bukit Brown is just part of the rich WW2 heritage that can be found on the hills. There were many other units fighting in the area, constantly passing over the cemetery during the ebb and flow of warfare. It is most likely that there are more missing men to be found amongst the headstones.

There will also undoubtedly be spent ammunition and equipment to be found across the site, the remnants of fieldworks and bomb craters and the general detritus of war. Each item will be the part of a big jigsaw of artifacts and by plotting the locations in the landscape it will be possible to gather invaluable information about fighting that took place there.

The impending work on the hills will peel back the top layers and will undoubtedly expose these traces of the past.Hopefully the construction teams, with proper instruction will identify these clues and call in the experts to catalog and retrieve the material before the concrete is poured over it. There is a chance; just one chance to collect this invaluable evidence.

But most of all there is the possibility that we may come across the remains of our missing men. A chance to identify them and lay them to peaceful rest amongst their own. The fact that we go to great lengths to retrieve these men says as much perhaps about the attitude of Singaporeans today as it does about their generation of sacrifice.’

Jon Cooper and Mok Ly Yng (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Jon Cooper and Mok Ly Yng who are working together to identify locations of the fallen Suffolk soldiers (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

 

Mok Ly Yng at the memorial wall looking for the names of the fallen in the Battle on Cemetery Hill ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Mok Ly Yng at the memorial wall looking for the names of the fallen in the Battle on Cemetery Hill ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Matching names of the fallen at Seh Ong Cemetery ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Matching names of the fallen at Seh Ong Cemetery ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

The Suffolk Regiment casualties list on the Singapore Memorial at the Kranji War Memorial, columns 53 & 54.

The Suffolk Regiment casualties list on the Singapore Memorial at the Kranji War Memorial, columns 53 & 54. (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Mok Ly Yng is part of the documentation team tasked by the government to record and document graves affected by the impending highway

The Kranji War Memorial is dedicated to the men and women from United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Sri Lanka, India, Malaya, the Netherlands and New Zealand who died defending Singapore and Malaya against the invading Japanese forces during World War II, it comprises the War Graves, the Memorial Walls, the State Cemetery, and the Military Graves.

Kranji War Memorial 1 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 3 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 4 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 5 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 6 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 7 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 1o November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 8 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

The Royal Airforce (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Kranji War Memorial, Sunday 10 November 2013. A member of the Royal Air Force, which is Jon Cooper’s unit (photo Mok Ly Yng)

The Royal Engineers (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Kranji War Memorial, Sunday 10, November 2013. A member of the Royal Engineers, the unit responsible for mapping and map production (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Kranji War Memorial 2 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 1o November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

 Ubique Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt

Everywhere – Where Right and Glory Lead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice® 2013 Winner “Ranked #16 of 665 attractions in Singapore. “

6 November, 2013.

Latest Reviews

“Get there before its too late…This is a very special place – peaceful, beautiful, historic, and a natural wildlife haven”

Visit Bukit Brown cemetery while you still can – before the bulldozers move in to create yet another expressway. This is a very special place – peaceful, beautiful, historic, and a natural wildlife haven. Intricately carved statues guard many of the old gravestones, which are often adorned with gorgeous antique tiles painted with flowers and peacocks. There are several pathways to explore and so the cemetery also makes a lovely place just to visit for a ‘country’ walk. Kingfishers, monitor lizards, monkeys and nightjars are common sights, and some of the huge banyan trees are staggering. In recent months the ‘Friends of Bukit Brown’ have painstakingly signed and cleared pathways to the gravestones of many notable names from Singapore’s history, making this an even more interesting place to visit.
Visited October 2013
HilarySingapore

Beauty shots 2 (photo public domain)

Bukit Brown(photo public domain)

Singapore is a concrete jungle and if there is a garden, it is man-made, like Gardens by the Bay…..(except for) a historical site called Bukit Brown. 

Today, I had the privilege of touring a historical site called Bukit Brown. Bukit Brown is a cemetery, where many of Singapore’s pioneer are buried and may soon be “awakened” from their peaceful slumber to make way for 8 lanes highway.
I toured with volunteers of Bukit Brown, and learn about the tombs of Tan Kheam Hock and his family. History is being collected as I write this review. The tour is made even more interesting with the descendants of Tan Kheam Hock in our midst. A definitely worthy visit for any tourist to Singapore, to see a side of Singapore which money cannot buy.
As Bukit Brown tour is manned by volunteers with a passion to preserve the heritage and culture of this little city state, one will need to visit Bukit Brown FB page to make enquiries of any tours.
Visited October 2013
IreneLim63

Beauty shots (photo public domain)

Bukit Brown, Tombs (photo public domain)

It was like stepping back into another place and time. You can see rays of sunshine illuminating the misty verdant hills, rich smell of the forest and hear sounds of delightful birds. It was somewhat surreal in heavily urbanised city but the oasis of tranquility calms the soul and the mind is clarified. What a wonderful place to go for a walk!

I joined a friend to witness the Cheng Beng festivity and was overwhelmed by the throngs of people with their prayer paraphernalia and the heavy traffic winds patiently through the hills. It was BUSY!

Then some 3 months later, I took a trip with the Brownies who gave free guided walks through Bukit Brown practically every weekends! It was like stepping back into another place and time. You can see rays of sunshine illuminating the misty verdant hills, rich smell of the forest and hear sounds of delightful birds. It was somewhat surreal in heavily urbanised city but the oasis of tranquility calms the soul and the mind is clarified. What a wonderful place to go for a walk!
Yes, we have the crowded Botanic Gardens, the monotonous MacRitchie & Pierce reservoirs, the hot Sungei Buloh Reserve and Chek Jawa Park is a little too far to reach but Bt Brown is way too cool! If you dare venture off the main track, you will encounter unusual structure, designs, engravings, statutes, reflecting the various cultures, beliefs & eras. You might encounter a monitor lizard, horse riders and almost always expats walking their dogs. Join the Sats & Suns groups of 10-20 people on the guided walks like the one I’ve taken, listening to the passionate guides who are bursting to share with you the stories of the hills.
Visited September 2013
Ally A

Beauty shots trees  3  (photo public domain)

Bukit Brown the birds nest ferns on the raintrees (photo public domain)

“The most beautiful place on earth”

Jo Prudence, descendant of George Henry Brown, after whom the cemetery is named.

A spectacular time-lapse aerial  video of Bukit Brown

More beauty shots of Bukit Brown here

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This is a blog post that will be updated as the destruction continues……

Thursday 28 November ( Pre Exhumation Rituals) : The Roundabout has become a road

28 November (photo Raymond Goh)

Thursday, 28 November the Roundabout becomes a Road (Photo Raymond Goh)

28 November 1 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Thursday, 28 November: The ‘ole raintree, still there. But for how long more? (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

A reminder of what it once was, almost exactly a year back in December 2012  :

BB Roundabout Dec 2012 (photo Chua Ai Lin)

Bukit Brown Roundabout : Dec 2012 (photo Chua Ai Lin)

 

Friday 22 November

22nd November Roundabout (photo Andrew Lim)

Friday, 22 November : erecting metal barriers at the Roundabout (photo Andrew Lim)

22nd November Sime Road Seh Ong Cemetery Barricaded (photo Andrew Lim)

Friday, 22 November: Sime Road, Seh Ong Cemetery completelybBarricaded (photo Andrew Lim)

Wednesday 13 November , roundabout paved

13 November Roundabout Paved (photo Ian Chong)

13 November, 2013 Roundabout Paved (photo Ian Chong)

Saturday, 9 November. Morning 9am, no works within the grounds.

Guided walks proceeded from the ‘ole rain tree. Respite!

Saturday 9 November, respite (photo Raymond Goh)

Saturday 9 November, respite (photo Raymond Goh)

Thursday, 7th November. The road works in progress  

Paving the roundabout, and putting up hoardings along Adam Road.

Photos on Flicker on 7th November, 6pm  here

Wednesday 6th November, other areas barricaded by concrete blocks

6 Nov Concrete barricades on Kheam Hock towards Lornie Rd  (photo red herring)

6 Nov Concrete barricades on Kheam Hock Rd towards Lornie Rd (photo public domain)

6 Nov Concrete barricades  (photo red herring)

6 Nov concrete barricades along Seh Ong cemetery (photo public domain)

6 Nov, 5pm  Along Lornie Road, Seh Ong side, getting ready to be barricaded  ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov, 5pm Along Lornie Road, Seh Ong side, getting ready to be barricaded ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Wednesday 6th November, 2013 clearing continues at the roundabout

6 Nov, 5pm  Roundabout ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov, 5pm Roundabout ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov, 5pm  Roundabout 1 ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov, 5pm Roundabout 1 ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov  Roundabout 9 am  (photo red herring)

6 Nov Roundabout 9 am (photo public domain)

6 November a 7.50am (photo red herring)

6 November cu of excavator at roundabout 7.50am (photo public domain)

6 November 7.50am (photo red herring)

6 November roundabout 7.50am (photo public domain)

Tuesday 5th November, 2013. The roundabout is destroyed.

5 Nov roundabout Georgina Chin

5  Nov 2013, roundabout (photo Georgina Chin)

Friday, 11 October, 2013. The roundabout is barricaded and sealed

Roundabout 11 October Sealed (photo Mil Phuah)

11 October Roundabout Sealed (photo Mil Phuah)

Before Oct 11,  2013. The Roundabout

Roundabout August (photo Aaron Chan)

Roundabout before October 11 (photo Aaron Chan)

Sun lit Roundabout May 2013 (photo Aaron Chan)

Sun lit Roundabout May 2013 (photo Aaron Chan)

 

 

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