Bukit Brown’s Value to Education1
@Angeline Lee just wrote directly to the Prime Minister via FB. Here’s the message, shared with her permission.
I visited Bukit Brown with my 2 nephews who are of primary school age. I showed them where our ancestors were buried, namely Mr Lim Chan Siew and his wife, Mm Ong Seok Kim. Lim Chan Siew was descended from Lim Liak (Lim Liak Street in Tiong Bahru was named after him). They also visited the grave of Lim Liak’s elder son, Lim Teck Ghee and his mother, Yeo Im Neo.In 2 hours, the boys learned that Singapore’s history is personal and relevant, cultural heritage of the Chinese from the inscriptions on the headstones and the layout of graves, they saw wild animals and horses and wondered at spider webs. The list goes on. They met expatriates who waxed lyrical about the beauty and serenity of the place. But what made this learning journey memorable for them was that the leader of a tour group recognised my cousin and invited him to tell the tourists about Lim Teck Ghee’s adventures.As a teacher myself, I found many things to value about Bukit Brown from an educator’s perspective.Bukit Brown’s value to education:
1. History: people who played a part in Malaya were buried here, e.g. Lim Teck Ghee who played a part in the Larut wars, and important pioneers whose graves date from the Qing era.
2. Archaelogical values: many old graves contain personal items of the deceased.
3. Geography: help students to understand how land like Bukit Brown act as a sponge during torrential downpours and help prevent flooding downstream.
4. Sustainable ecology: Singapore has very few green corridors left for our local fauna and flora to thrive.Learning, for our children, should not be confined to the 4 walls of a classroom. Please help to save Bukit Brown for future generations to touch the past, understand the present and work hard for their future.
A week later, she penned a second letter:
Time is running out for Bukit Brown. I feel the government must take decisive steps instead of waiting for MCYS and MND to study the points I raised in my earlier letter.
This came to my attention recently. “The Japanese Cemetery Park (Kanji: 日本人墓地公園; rōmaji: Nihonjin bochi kōen) is a cemetery and park in Hougang, Singapore. It is the largest Japanese cemetery in South East Asia at 29,359 square metres, consisting of 910 tombstones that contain the remains of members of the Japanese community in Singapore, including young Japanese prostitutes, civilians, soldiers and convicted war criminals executed at Changi Prison in Singapore. It was gazetted (announced or published in an official journal or in a newspaper) as a memorial park by the Singapore Government in 1987.” But the same government wants to turn Bukit Brown which contain really old trees and graves which are more than a hundred years old into an 8-lane highway.
It is good and gracious to honour our enemy but at the same time we need to teach our young people to honour and value our pioneers if we want them to honour and value the founding fathers of modern Singapore.