2月9日(星期日) : 0900 – 1200

新加坡是个移民社会,不论文化习俗都是由移民所引进,但民间的往来,其实产生一种对流。以坟墓旁的锡克卫兵为例,这是新加坡槟城等地区的独特习俗,但金门墓地也有这类锡克卫兵,这是早期在新加坡工作致富的金门人将这本土文化引进金门。金门最著名的就是抗战碉堡,许多人以为是国共对抗期间建造的,其实它是由长眠于武吉布朗的黄肖岩和林则杨于抗日时所督建。一水之遥的厦门,在世纪发生小刀会起义,创办人陈庆真其实是新加坡出生的英籍华人,小刀会起义还蔓延到上海。武吉布朗导览员林志强将带你参观黄肖岩与小刀会家族,以及金门与厦门先贤坟墓,和你一起探讨这股文化思想之回流。

免责声明:
“在本人同意参加武吉布朗的游览活动下,我了解及接受我必须具备体力上的条件。在法律容许的程度下,我同意承担自身及我所看护的人士(包括儿童或我所监护的人士)可能受到身体损伤的任何及所有风险。”若有任何疑点,一概以英文版为准。

Disclaimer: By agreeing to take this walking tour of Bukit Brown Cemetery, I understand and accept that I must be physically fit and able to do so.To the extent permissible by law, I agree to assume any and all risk of injury or bodily harm to myself and persons in my care (including child or ward).

报名:

我们在周末为公众提供的导览服务是免费的

理想人数为一团三十人(平均一名导览员十五人)

请在我们的Facebook活动页面按‘参加’/‘加入’,然后告诉我们共有多少人与你一同参加活动,或直接在活动当天在集合地点(按个别游览活动页面所示)与我们会合。

武吉布朗义工座右铭:风雨无阻,不见不散。

For information on how to get there and handy tips please visit Getting There/ 集合地点

Walter's tour

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Meeting Place for all guided walks : Gates at end of Lorong Halwa

Saturday 8 Feb  2014 :   0900- 1200

Bukit Brown is on the World Monuments Watch list 2014 . Find out what makes this a heritage site worthy of preserving. http://bukitbrown.com/main/?p=7930

Fabian and Yik Han will shine a light on the notable pioneers including revolutionaries, social reformers, bankers, war heroes etc and the historical context of their lives and times. They will also explain tomb architecture and the significance to the after life. This tour will concentrate on notable tombs in Hill 4. There will be a NHK film team following this tour.

Disclaimer: By agreeing to take this walking tour of Bukit Brown Cemetery, I understand and accept that I must be physically fit and able to do so.To the extent permissible by law, I agree to assume any and all risk of injury or bodily harm to myself and persons in my care (including child or ward)

Registration:

Our weekend public tours are FREE …
Optimally the group size is 30 participants (15 individuals/guide).

Please click ‘Join’ on the FB event page to let us know you are coming, how many pax are turning up, or just meet us at the starting point at 9am. We meet there rain or shine.

“We guide rain, shine or exhumations”

For information on how to get there and handy tips please visit Getting There/ 集合地点

Four of the Immortals (photo Jim Wong

Four of the Immortals (photo Jim Wong

 

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Chew Chai Pin

(b. 11 November 1911 – d. 13 June 1941)

Among the 4,000 graves which will have to be exhumed to make way for the highway is that of Chew Chai Pin (# 1253)

Chew grave documentation project

The Grave of Chew Chai Pin  ( photo credit : The Bukit Brown Documentation Project)

Chew Chai Pin was one of three founders  of the Chinese High School in Batu Pahat.  Unlike the other prominent Chinese men who contributed to the school, Chew was not well known then in the community.    He held the concurrent  position of director and teacher of  the Ayer Hitam School. But he was soon to answer a higher calling.

On March 6, 1940,  Chew went to China from Singapore to Yangon and China, to  visit and give moral support to the Nanyang  volunteer mechanics and drivers, as well as civilians and troops.  The Nanyang  Volunteers were  recruited and trained  from  South East Asia,  to transport war and logistic supplies through the notorious China-Burma highway to sustain  China’s war effort against the invading Japanese. Chew represented Batu Pahat as  part of a deputation comprising of representatives from the overseas Chinese communities of South East Asia.
But on March 29 1940, the vehicle he was in overturned and he sustained serious injury to his spinal cord.  He was warded at a hospital at Xiaguan (Yunnan)  while the rest of the deputation proceeded to their destinations.  He was visited by none other than Tan Kah Kee,  who was instrumental in  galvanizing  the support of  the overseas Chinese in Nanyang (South East Asia)  for the second Sino-Japanese War.  Tan made arrangements to have Chew sent to Yangon for treatment as the doctors in Xiaguan were unable to heal him. Chew’s legs were numb and he could not walk for more than a year.  Chew also received a letter of consolation  from the  Commander-in-Chief of the war and leader of the Kuomintang , Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek.

On March  4th of 1941, a year after his accident,  an arrangement was made for him be transported to Singapore for treatment. Just when many thought Chew would recover, he died in Singapore on June 13, 1941  at 0615 hours. It was said that his funeral in Singapore  was attended by more than 400 people. He was hailed in both Singapore and Malaysia as a patriot who sacrificed his life for  China.

citation for Chew

An obituary in the  Nanyang Siang Pau to the memory of Mr Chew Chai Pin proclaims:  “He Died for his Country”

On his deathbed, he urged his compatriots to spare no effort for China’s salvation. He said:

“I am ashamed to have done nothing in service of my country. How can I die without doing anything for the motherland? I must do something for the nation when I come back in another life.” Chew Chai Pin.

Chew  was just 30 years old when he died.

Tan Kah Kee wrote in his memoirs that when the deputation left Singapore by ship on the 6th of March, it was sent off by a crowd in high spirits. Only Chew’s mother and wife were weeping. Somebody observed to Tan,  that the deputation would be away for only 3 months and it was an honour to be a delegate, so even though one could excuse Chew’s mother as she was of an older generation, his wife who was educated and a teacher was showing too much emotion. After seeing Chew in hospital six months after his accident, when he could not be cured by the doctors there, Tan Kah Kee remarked that it seemed the mother and wife had been prescient of what was to come at the point of parting.

Chew  was born on 11/11/11 in the Hokkien Province, Tong An County, Au To village. He married in November 1937,  and was childless at the time of his death.  After he  passed  away,  his parents adopted a son on his behalf.

Article

An article from Sin Chew Jit Poh 19 Dec 2012 on Chew Chai Pin

 

Chinese High School (photo Raymond Goh)

The Chinese High School in Batu Pahat co founded by Chew Chai Pin (photo Raymond Goh)

postscript : Chew Chai Pin’s grave has been claimed.

***

Source: From  the blog  of 沈志堅’who is a teacher at Chinese High School in Batu Pahat. (Translated by Fabian Tee)

Additional information from the Memoirs of Tan Kah Kee

 

 

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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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A personal account by Aylwin Tan who witnessed the exhumation of his grandfather and aunt at Bukit Brown on the morning of Wednesday, 8th January,2014.

***

I received a phone call from the exhumation office about 1.5 hours after I had registered. Picked my Dad up and went directly to the gravesite.

The green tentage is that of my aunt Tan Siok Hwa (aged 10) and the grey is my grandpa, Tan Cheng Moh. Both were killed during a Japanese raid; a bomber scored a direct hit on the bomb shelter where my grandpa had put his entire family, including his close relatives. Apparently, grandpa’s thinking was that they should all stick together and if they all died, so be it.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 8

Exhumation at grave of aunt (photo Aylwin Tan)

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 6

Exhumation at grave of grandfather (photo Aylwin Tan)

Their funerals were carried out in haste. A number of traditions were abandoned for fear of being caught out in the open by the Japanese bombers e.g. mourners alighting to perform rites at every bridge along the way to the burial ground.

Mr Lee (the gentleman in yellow boots seen in the first photo) told me that the coffins and remains had disintegrated and had merged with the soil. Not surprising, given that they had passed about 70 years ago. The gravediggers gathered some earth and put it in plastic bags for the purposes of cremation.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 7

(photo Aylwin Tan)

I was curious to know how the gravediggers knew that they had dug deep enough to reach the remains. Mr Lee explained that the gravediggers would know once they reached a flat surface as this was the bottom of the coffin.

The gravediggers were also able to tell that my aunt died when she was a child. If you look at my aunt’s grave, you can see a ‘step’ indicating that the coffin was shorter than an adult’s.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 16

The grave of 10 year old aunt with a “step” ( photo Aylwin Tan)

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 12

Measuring the depth of aunt’s grave   (photo Aylwin Tan)

(photo Aylwin Tan)

The grave of grandfather dug until a flat even  surface was reached, where the coffin had been laid   (photo Aylwin Tan)

I was worried that Dad would not be able to negotiate the uneven terrain to the grave sites but the path worn out by the gravediggers proved manageable. Mr Lee told me that these gravediggers are the last of their kind in Singapore.

Dad spent some time telling his story to the gravediggers while I sorted out with Mr Lee the items found in the graves. Dad’s chair was provided by Swee Hong, the company that won the exhumation tender, a testimony to their planning and attention to detail. Also, you can see how they used the umbrellas to shield the boxes from the sun.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 13

Umbrellas shading the remains from the sun as required by traditional practices. Aylwin’s father (seated) chatting with the grave diggers (photo Aylwin Tan)

The gravediggers recovered a chain and part of a bowl from my aunt’s grave. The bowl was probably used in the funeral rites. Mr Lee asked if I would donate them for research. I shall have to ask my elders’ permission first.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 0

Items recovered from graves (photo Aylwin Tan).

My grandpa’s grave yielded a bullet and a piece of metal which looked like a cone with the top portion cut off. I had to surrender the bullet as it was not a spent round. The gravediggers surmised that the metal piece came from the bomb but I wonder where the bullet came from. Dad said that the metal piece was not the cause of grandpa’s death; a beam had fallen on grandpa’s head and cracked it open. Death was instantaneous. The sight must have been extremely traumatic for the family. Dad was only 11 or 12 then.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 5

A bullet recovered from grandfather’s grave (photo Aylwin Tan)

One unexpected development came about when Dad suddenly said that my great grandfather was also buried somewhere in Bukit Brown. Dad did not know his name or the location of the grave site. Apparently, only one of grandpa’s brothers had this information and he had since passed. According to Mr Lee, great grandpa’s remains will be exhumed and disposed of if unclaimed after a period. Mr Lee also said that there was still hope if someone in my family could remember great grandpa’s name as the tombstone would surely state grandpa’s name. I’ll try my best to ask my relatives but am not very hopeful.

I will miss the 2 “Yodas” guarding grandpa’s grave. The other 2 guards look kind of effeminate.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 10

(photo Aylwin Tan)

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 14

(photo Aylwin Tan)

The left panel of the tombstone lists grandpa’s sons and daughters. Dad is ‘Geok San‘, which means ‘jade mountain’ in Chinese. In accordance with Chinese tradition, the sons and male cousins in the same generation have the same identifying name. In my Dad’s generation, the name is ‘Geok‘. In mine, it is ‘Wee’, which means ‘great‘ in Chinese. I understand that these names are predetermined by the Chinese Almanac.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg inscription

Inscriptions of the names of 3 sons and 3 daughters (photo Aylwin Tan)

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 15

The start of exhumations this morning 8 January 2014 (photo Aylwin Tan)

The exhumation ended on a quiet note. After I had given written confirmation of the items from the graves that I had retained, I was given printed photographs of the two grave sites and that was it.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 11

The end of exhumation (photo Aylwin Tan)

I was very impressed with the professionalism of the Swee Hong staff. They were attentive to my requests and sensitive to religious aspects of the exhumation. They worked fast but were in no hurry, allowing claimants all the time they needed to carry out their religious observances. Thanks to them, the exhumation process went smoothly.

- Aylwin Tan-

Additional Information : Both grandfather and aunt  died on 18 Jan 1942.

Grave of  Tan Cheng Moh 陳青茂 #769 (photo credit The Bukit Brown Cemetery  Documentation Project )

0769  Tan grandpa Documentation site 0769-2 Tan grandpa documentation site

Grave of Tan Siok Hwa  陳淑華 #763  (photo credit  The Bukit Brown Cemetery  Documentation Project)

0763 Tan aunt documentation site 0763-2 Tan aunt documentation site

Editor’s note: We would like to thank Aylwin Tan for giving us permission to reproduce his personal account on the blog. If you are a descendant who has ancestors staked for exhumation,   please share your story with us.

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

 

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The  Art Nouveau (Peranakan) tiles of Bukit Brown have caught the attention of a French academic who helms an international research team. The team  has embarked on a 4 year study of the tiles in Asia, under an MOU with the Unesco University and Heritage Forum.

Professor Chantal Zheng together with her husband, Dr Zheng Shun-De, visited Bukit Brown recently, guided by our tiles expert, Victor Lim.

Victor Lim guiding.a grooup  Chantal Zheng ( ) with her husband

Victor Lim with Chantal and Shun De Zheng, pictured here nearest to Victor.  (photo Claire Leow)

The visit, so impressed them, they wrote to All Things Bukit Brown to tell us more about their project and how they hope, they can include Bukit Brown in their study. Reproduced here with Professor Chantal’s kind permission.

“I am very grateful to your association and to Mr Victor LIM for having introduced me to this fascinating Singapore Cultural Heritage field concerning « Art nouveau tiles ». As a matter of fact, this is particularly interesting for the Tiles research team I am responsable for in the IRASIA (Research Institute for Asian Studies): Aix-Marseille University in the south of France. My Research Institute (IRASIA) is conducting historical, anthropological and sociological researches on many countries in East and South-East Asia such as China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, India, and Taiwan.

Three years ago, we submitted on the behalf of the University a research project on “Art nouveau tiles” in Asia to the Unesco University and Heritage Forum. The project has been accepted and a MOU has been signed by Aix – Marseille Université and The Unesco Forum for 4 years (2012-2016). The first objective being to make a survey of the presence of these specific tiles in East Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea), South-East Asia (Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia) and even in South Asia with India. The second objective is to select and write a report on some particular and (to use Unesco vocabularly) “exceptional” places where tiles are found in great number.

It appears that these tiles have been diffused by the Chinese Diaspora and the Peranakan culture in Asia. They constitute a cultural asset common to many Asian countries, are the testimony of cultural, artistic and even commercial exchanges between East and West at the beginning of the XXth century and that is why they present a very great interest for the research. In Singapore, I have discovered many districts with very beautiful and unique houses decorated with a profusion of tiles, all in very good state and very well preserved. And I also had the opportunity to make a visit to Bukit Brown Cemetery

I was very surprised to see so many beautiful Peranakan tombs decorated with old tiles. As far as I understand the situation, this cemetery is now on the way to being destroyed for the construction of a road. That is a real pity indeed and I do hope very sincerely the tiles may be preserved, as I doubt there is another place in the world comparable to Bukit Brown. It is our hope that these tiles will be kept in good condition as they must be considered an important element of the Singapore national treasure.

Conscious of the interest that Singapore presents and of the precious contribution of the Peranakan culture to its cultural heritage, my research team on Asian Art nouveau tiles (which includes 7 French researchers and architects, a Japanese Museum director: Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Archaelogy, a Taiwanese Association for Cultural Heritage, a Taiwanese historian and a Taiwanese architect: University of Kaohsiung), is prepared to focus now on the history of the Republic of Singapore to discover the cultural and commercial links with other Asian countries in the diffusion of Art Nouveau tiles (Japanese or European). We are very grateful to your association and to your colleagues for the help in our research during our short stay in Singapore and hope we will continue in the future to cooperate with you and with Singapore architects and historians on the tiles subject.” Chantal ZHENG, Professor, Department of Asiatic Studies, Aix-Marseille Université

Victor together with the Zhengs at his office

The Zhengs at Victor Lim’s office showcasing his collection of tiles

Montage of Tiles (photo composite: Joy Loh)

Montage of Tiles (photo composite: Joy Loh)

book (photo Victor Lim)

A book on art nouveau tiles in French published by the Zhengs (photo Victor Lim)

You can learn more about the tiles this Sunday 12 January at Bukit Brown with Victor Lim. Details 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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A Look Back at 2013

Aerial view of the largest tomb in Bukit Brown (Photo: Franck)

Aerial view of the largest tomb in Bukit Brown (Photo: Franck)

 

A look back at 2013… 

We lost a dear Brownie, Vicky Tan, but started the Tan Kheam Hock Tour as a tribute to her and her ancestors. Other kin have been clearing the tombs of Kheam Hock’s relatives, and in the process, prettifying entire clusters in Bukit Brown. It has added much needed cheer at a time exhumations have started.

Celebrating Bukit Brown exhibition of posters and tiles (Photo: Gan Su-Lin)

Celebrating Bukit Brown exhibition of posters and tiles (Photo: Gan Su-Lin)

 

We held 2 exhibitions, “Celebrating Bukit Brown” (above) as a “report” on our efforts to reach students and teachers and their works, and “Bukit Brown: Our Roots, Our Future” (below), an extensive exhibition at Chui Huay Lian Club that featured English and Mandarin speakers and brought attention to the threat to the Muslim graves at Jalan Kubor. Both enabled us to reach out to more communities and decision-makers. The latter also featured a rare reunion of the descendants of Seah Eu Chin. Walter Lim, Yik Han and Charlene Tan deserve special mention, aided by an army of volunteers to put it all together.

 

Our Roots, Our Future: An Exhibition
More schools signed up for tours, and even resulted in books published. This confirms our belief that Bukit Brown is an educational resource to be treasured, conserved and shared.

Victor Lim has added depth to the tours with his tile expertise. A tile expert team has now taken interest and plans to bring it to the attention of UNESCO.

Expats Bianca Polak and Ritsuko Saito joined the cause, Bianca avidly guiding and photographing, while Ritsuko has given talks in Taiwan and Japan on Bukit Brown. Again and again, Bukit Brown proves to be not just a treasure for Singaporeans. Brownies shared their expertise far and wide, and many a weekend, Yik Han, Mok Ly Ying, Raymond Goh, et al could be found giving talks on knowledge gleaned from Bukit Brown.

Catherine Lim helped put Bukit Brown in the living rooms of Singaporeans with “History from the Hills”, a TV documentary series that moved many and won mention in Parliament.

At least 3 TEDX talks by Claire Leow, Ish Singh and Lavanya Prakash featured Bukit Brown as a focus subject.

Ish Singh with one of Sikh guards [photo: Bianca Polak]

Ish Singh with one of Sikh guards [photo: Bianca Polak]

Ish Singh recently joined the Brownies as a co-guide after penning a reflective piece on how he felt connected to his Sikh history through Bukit Brown and Amardeep Singh has started research there – pointing to the Sikh interest in the history of Bukit Brown.

Sugen Ramiah and Ai Loon stepped outreach for the young, Simone Lee, Zhi Hao and Aaron Chan became our newest guides. More and more are coming out in support because they see the intrinsic value of Bukit Brown. We welcome anyone with the same passion.

Bukit Brown made it to Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2013 Winners list.

Battlefield archaeologist Jon Cooper continues to uncover more of our past and his Battlefield Tours are always fully subscribed in record time.

An animated Jon Cooper on his popular Battlefield Tour (Photo: Claire Leow)

Jon Cooper on his popular Battlefield Tour (Photo: Claire Leow)

Behind the scenes, many elves abound to do good work. Khoo Ee Hoon mapped out Bukit Brown and helped with the iBBC app. She, Danny Chew and Edmon Neo-Khoo are among those cleaning tombs every weekend. Lim Su-Min would be on call with his saw to clear fallen trees to prevent damage to graves or visitors.

The supporting cast of Brownies (photo Gan Su-Lin)

The supporting cast of Brownies (photo Gan Su-Lin)

Edmon spends weekends "gardening" at Bukit Brown to upkeep tombs. He is a descendant of Tan Kheam Hock. (Photo: Khoo Ee Hoon)

Edmon spends weekends “gardening” at Bukit Brown to upkeep tombs. He is a descendant of Tan Kheam Hock. (Photo: Khoo Ee Hoon)

Needless to say, stalwarts like Raymond Goh, Peter Pak and Walter Lim blogged avidly and added to our depth of knowledge of what we stand to lose by losing Bukit Brown. Guides Chew Keng Kiat, Fabian Tee, Andrew, Peter Pak, Beng Tang, Yik Han, Bianca, Mil Phuah, Raymond, Catherine and Claire were ably assisted by many in the community who shared their knowledge, time and talents, often as co-guides. We have now guided 10,000 visitors to Bukit Brown as a community.

Jennifer Teo and Tien of SOS Bukit Brown not only guided but gathered 7,000 signatures and delivered them to the government in the petition to save Bukit Brown. Georgina Chin’s book on the birds, including many at Bukit Brown, sold out.

And together, this community has put Bukit Brown on the world map by getting international recognition for its potential as a heritage site with the World Monuments Watch list 2014.  Ian Chong deserves special mention for his help with the application. And you have been pushing the envelope with your letters to the government, giving us much encouragement.

WMW 2014

If we missed out on anyone, think of it as a blessing that there were so many of you giving support that we cannot list everyone, and not that you have been forgotten.

We have come a long way in 2013. With the highway project starting, we need to do more, not less. We have 95,000 more tombs to save.

Rain or shine or exhumations, we carry on with our tours.

Brownies announcing the World Monuments Watch Listing (Photo: Terry Xu)

And we thank you, this wonderful community, for carrying us. We who stand on the shoulders of others see further. May you be blessed in 2014.

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Sharing our feedback on Bukit Brown in the Draft Masterplan. We are grateful to all who wrote and shared your  feedback with us. Without your support, awareness of Bukit Brown would not  be where it is  now – not just a talking point but- a rallying point to enrich our identity, a respect for our heritage and a Singapore we can all call home.  We are humbled.

***

“We met as volunteers and in response to a groundswell of feedback after the announcement of the plan for Bukit Brown, formed All Things Bukit Brown as a loose group of volunteers to support amateur historian Raymond Goh, people who might want to contribute time, research, translation skills, etc to raise awareness of the value of Bukit Brown. We subsequently created the blog, All Things Bukit Brown, (http://bukitbrown.com) and started organising social events onsite in December 2011 to gauge interest in Bukit Brown as a destination. We were happily surprised by the enthusiastic turn-out for 3-4 events and started guiding tours onsite with whatever knowledge we received from February 2012.

Since then, we have cobbled together a dozen committed volunteers who research and/or guide. We are pleased to report that in that time, we have guided 10,000 people to Bukit Brown, including secondary schools and tertiary institutions, overseas academics, and participants from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Civil Service College. Former Foreign Minister George Yeo was an early visitor guided. We have also guided grassroots communities led by their MPs, including DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Sylvia Lim. This weekend, Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee will bring his grassroots community there too. Groups which have come include the elderly Chinese, the hearing impaired and the docents from the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall , National and Peranakan Museums.

Bukit Brown has already inspired the students of  Pioneer Junior College to co- write the book “1911 Revolution: Singapore Pioneers in Bukit Brown” which was  launched  last Friday at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. On our part we have applied for a grant from the National Heritage Board to put together useful information we have gathered over the past two years as a guide book to Bukit Brown.

Imagine this, a grassroots effort to bring 10,000 people to a site without any amenities – no toilets, drinks stalls, resting stations, shelter from the rain, marked trails or trash bins. How much more can we do together when we put our resources together? Give us a chance.

As Singaporeans, we are very proud to share what knowledge we have and encourage interest in Bukit Brown. We have met many engaged Singaporeans,  academics, students, tourists, photographers, artists, etc – a diversity of participants who have reinforced the notion that Bukit Brown is more than a cemetery but a public space that draws different communities there for different reasons. We are witness to the grassroots movement which has built up a valuable community with a strong outreach component. We hope that you see this element of a place in fostering communal ties and meaning. These are valuable to building a strong and cohesive society, people rooted to their identities and bringing Singaporeans and residents together in a meaningful way. It is not something that can be easily replicated without the actual space that first drew us together in the first place.

It is this community-building effort that also drew the attention of the World Monuments Fund in awarding Bukit Brown World Monuments Watch status. We are proud of this international recognition and hope that one day, we can twin Bukit Brown with the Botanic Gardens for a unique world heritage site unmatched anywhere else in the world. That it is set in such lush and spectacular settings makes Bukit Brown all the more special.

State recognition of Bukit Brown’s intrinsic value will lift tourist awareness of Singapore in a different way, opening up ideas (and revenue streams) for education tourism, battle site tourism, cultural tourism etc in the same way medical tourism has brought international attention (and revenue) to the world-class medical services available in Singapore. Already, heritage associations in the region, specifically Penang and Malacca, have displayed keen interest in Bukit Brown and we hope there would be attendant tourism effects for the better good of Singapore and her neighbours. Not only would Singapore benefit from state recognition of the heritage value of Bukit Brown, we can work together with tourism agencies around the region and reap the benefits of good neighbourliness and joint tourism campaigns. Indeed, we are not short on ideas. We ask for the state to demonstrate leadership in this. 

We hope you will protect Bukit Brown and Singapore’s historical, cultural, wartime and natural heritage for future generations, and will have an open discussion on how best to protect Bukit Brown and other heritage and nature sites affected by the proposals in the URA Draft Master Plan 2013. National development includes supporting our Nation’s sense of identity and belonging across generations in addition to infrastructure.”

Claire Leow & Catherine Lim

brownies _ Terry Xu TOC

(photo Terry Xu)

 

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