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CNA, 24 Oct 2011

MND aware of Bukit Brown cemetery's rich heritage

SINGAPORE : The Ministry of National Development (MND) has said it is aware of the rich heritage of the Bukit Brown cemetery and is working with civic groups to document graves that will be affected by planned developments.

Plans for a new road running through the old cemetery have drawn some criticism for its lack of sensitivity to the area's history.

The Singapore Heritage Society has also said it was not consulted on the plans.

A ministry statement said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) have been working with partners like the Heritage Society, and that discussions have been going on for months.

An advisory committee will guide the process of documenting over 5,000 graves - or 5 per cent of over 100,000 graves - affected by the new road.

It will record the history of the graves, as well as burial rituals.

Documentation work begins this month and will take over a year to complete.

Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin said: "We are aware of the rich heritage of Bukit Brown and its links to the history of our country. We have sought to explore various possibilities for the road but there were no easy choices.

"Once the decision was taken on the road, we began discussing with key stakeholders. We aim to properly capture the history and memories of the affected graves and to do this before the planned road development begins."

The new road is part of planned redevelopments for the Bukit Brown area, first outlined in a 1991 report.

It requires about 5 per cent of the over 100,000 graves in the area to be exhumed.

Mr Tan met with the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, The Peranakan Association and the Singapore Heritage Society (SHS), as well as academics and grave experts on Monday to discuss the documentation framework.

Commenting on the plans, the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan and The Peranakan Association said that while they support the move to document the graves, they would prefer the area to be conserved.

The Hokkien Huay Kuan hopes that the area to be affected is kept to a minimum, and called for iconic tombs to be relocated.

The SHS called on interested Singaporeans to step forward and be part of the process.

"There is room for further collaboration and consultation on plans for Bukit Brown Cemetery and the SHS looks forward to being an integral part of the decision-making process," it added.

- CNA/ms 

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