The Revolutionary Tour


It was the inaugural Revolutionary Tour so dubbed because the tombs visited belong to the revolutionaries of the Tong Meng Hui. They  made Singapore a base to raise funds to support  Sun Yat-Sen in bringing  about the fall of the Qing Dynasty who ruled between the 1905 – 1911. it was popularly  called the “辛亥革命” (Revolution of the Xin Hai Year) Post 1911 they continued to  play a part in influencing  the course of China’s history and also contributed to Singapore’s social, economic and community development.

Walter Lim led the tour conducted in Mandarin for some 36 guides from the Sun Yat Sen museum, many of whom also guide in Mandarin at  the Singapore History and Peranankan Museums. He was assisted by volunteers,  Yik Han and Ee Hoon. As tours went, it was one  of the most engaging and lively  of tours conducted at Bukit Brown, with participants sharing their insights and postulating various theories. It took nearly 5 hours to cover just under 10 tombs. There  are 13  known TMH tombs and 14  tombs known to belong to Republicans – the latter was formed after TMH at Bukit Brown.  Collectively both groups were part of the Reformation movement of the New China.

The following is a photo essay report with photos by Ee Hoon and captions contributed by Walter and Yik Han. Of the tombs covered 3 belong to Republicans:  Khoo Seok Wan, Leow Chia Heng and See Tiong Wah . The rest are Tong Meng Hui

The group gathers just before 10am for introductory briefing by Walter Lim (photo Ee Hoon )

First stop  Tay Koh Yat. At the height of his business he owned a total of 163 buses serving public transportation. He was a  patriot who started and led his own self defence force of 20,000 before  the onset of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore in World War 2. With a price on his head, Tay escaped to Indonesia with Tan Kah Kee on the eve of the war. After the war, Tay returned and immediately started to compile the fatalities from his volunteer force and lobbied the colonial government for the same compensation given to widows and children of servicemen who died during the war. Initially rejected, he appealed and the colonial government finally gave in. Tay next went on to form the Singapore Chinese Appeal Committee for the Japanese Massacre victims to seek justice and compensation.

The first stop is introduction by Yik Han to Tay Koh Yat, transport pioneer, war hero and Tong Meng Hui member (photo Ee Hoon )


Walter takes a back seat while Yik Han weighs in with more info on TKY (photo Ee Hoon )

Stop 2, destination :  the tomb of 蒋玉田(Chio York Chiang) (1856-1927). He was one of the pioneer batch of Hokkien TMH member. Others were, Tan Chor Nam, Lim Keng Chew and Liew Hong Sek.

(photo Ee Hoon )

Interesting inscription of the head stone, one  side has  ” 时国民党老同盟独具先“ and ”为华侨界代議士尚繋後思“ The first “He is a pioneer of the Guo Min Tang with sharp foresight” the second statement on the right says that he is a “Representative of the oversea chinese righteous member, a thoughtful person”

Chio York Chiang is concealed behind bushes,  on hill 2 (photo Ee Hoon )

Around the tomb of Chio York Chiang – Buried with him is his brother,  in the same tomb so the names on the tomb shoulders are those of their respective children

A tight squeeze around the tomb of Chio York Chiang which is  unique in that  it is  inscribed with  his and his brother’s,  sons’ names on each of  the tomb shoulders.(photo Ee Hoon )

Stop number 3 Tomb of Khoo Kay Hian and his third wife Lee Poh Neo, behind are his 2 older  wives and watching over the cluster his mother. The first of the tombs on the tour which is staked for exhumation as it is in the way of the proposed 8 lane highway.

Kay Hian and third wife (photo Ee Hoon )

Mother of Kay Hian (photo Ee Hoon)

Stop 4 See Tiong Wah

Making their way to See Tiong Wah cluster in a hill once known as See Tiong Wah hill because so many of his relations including his mother, wives and in laws are buried here. This cluster is also staked  ( photo Catherine Lim)

Almost there (photo Ee Hoon)


Guides wait patiently as participants tear themselves away from last tomb (photo Catherine Lim)

Ee Hoon takes a sip before launching into what she knows of See’s  genealogy including his marriage to Khoo Seok Wan’s sister. ( photo Catherine Lim)


Walter weighs in on See’s role as a Republican . (photo Catherine Lim)


Much to take in with 3 guides sharing ( photo Catherine Lim)


With 3 guides, possible to have one on one time (photo Catherine Lim)

For more on See Tiong Wah, see here

The next stop 5,  took participants up another part of Hill 2 into an overgrown tomb belonging to Boey Chuan Poh who built Wan Qing Wan

A sight of the tomb of Boey Chuan Poh, he is not a poor man but he has a really humble tomb, unmatched  to his social status at that time.


Boey barely revealed. Much ado about just who/what  was Wan Qing Yuan named after, mother, wife or horse? Officially it is his mother (photo Ee Hoon)

cascading vines screen  Boey’s tomb ( photo Ee Hoon )


Much scribbling not just here where it was cramped but at all the tombs visited, We are expecting the tours at SYS to be much expanded as a result of this tour! (photo Ee Hoon)


Craning to see and hear (photo Ee Hoon)

Stop 6 Tan Chor Nam

On to Hill 3 by car and Tan Chor Nam on foot (photo Ee Hoon)


Tan Chor Nam aka Tan Lian Chye (photo Ee Hoon)


Tan Chor Nam ( photo Ee Hoon)

Stop 7 Lim Keng Chiew

At the tomb of Lim Keng Chiew a hop and skip from Tan Chor Nam. (photo Ee Hoon)

Lim was an early member of the Tongmenghui and the first secretary of its Singapore branch. He was so active in promoting the revolutionary cause that his shoe business suffered. But you say he left his footprint on the movement. He was one of the founders of the Ho San Kong Huay, a locality organisation for Hokkiens from the Ho San region in Xiamen. (Photo Ee Hoon)

Stop 8 Khoo Seok Wan

To Hill 4 and a grave marked by a hibiscus tree which always seems to be in full blossom (photo Ee Hoon)


Khoo Seok Wan and his own epithet (photo Ee Hoon)

Read about it here

The intense interest is palpable in this scholar and revolutionary (photo Ee Hoon)


The person buried here gives  much pause for thought and talk (photo Ee Hoon)

A chance near where KSW tomb is located to study the LTA’s plans for he 8 lane highway and contemplate the stake tombs which are in the way, including Khoo Seok Wan’s (photo Ee Hoon)

In fact when you see these boards in Hill 4, follow it, look for the hibiscus plant and it will lead you to KSW, ironic isn’t it? ( photo Ee Hoon)

Stop 9 Leow Chia Heng

For more on Leow, please click here

Nearly 5 hours later, still enough energy for one last cheer, for more tours to come (photo Ee Hoon)


Look out for Revolutionary Tours in October in English!