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Zaobao News Dec 28, 2014


吴安全(左)与吴安龙两兄弟多年来默默寻找与发掘本地的古墓,并带动本地寻墓热。
摄影⊙叶振忠

吴安全
51岁,寻墓人

2014年成绩
★寻获凤山寺创建人梁壬癸古墓。
★发现建国总理李光耀外家先人四古墓。

吴安龙
46岁,寻墓人
2014年成绩
★发现四排埔旧精神病院围墙。

不是祭祖,送殡一般人都不会到坟场去。采访当天要求德士司机载记者到武吉布朗(Bukit Brown)坟场去,司机就不很乐意,记者只好在离坟场约200米的路口下车。吴安全和吴安龙就毫不避忌,他们一次又一次带队到坟场寻根问祖,让一个个深藏在老林的古坟重见天日,还历史的本来面目。

自2011年9月武吉布朗因为要让位给新道路,约5000多个坟墓必须迁移的消息公布后,每个月的两个周末,还有公共假期,总有一群来自各界,学有专长,自称布朗人(Brownies)的热心人士轮流义务导览。他们身穿印有“Bukit Brown Heritage”的白色T恤,倚仗挥汗热情解说,尽自己所能让公众多认识武吉布朗的历史。吴安全和吴安龙兄弟是这群人当中两个熟悉的身影,他们也是这群布朗人的领头羊。

武吉布朗探秘先行者

吴安龙是一名建筑安全经理,自小好奇心重,对一些不明白的事物总是很感兴趣,一定要想方设法查个水落石出。在他成长岁月中曾经的一些事物,不是已被人淡忘,就是已消失得无影踪。他努力发掘的目的,是希望重拾已被遗忘的共同记忆。因为这一信念,2003年沙斯后,他响应新加坡旅游局振兴旅游业的号召,跟哥哥吴安全一样注册为义务导游,带旅客到坟场去,让旅客以独特的方式认识新加坡。

吴安全则是一名药剂师,兄弟俩还共同创办了亚洲超自然侦探协会(Asia Paranomal Investigators),为落实他们追根究底的理想跨出第一步,开始研究武吉布朗坟场的墓碑,还绘制了一份地图,让公众下载来个“坟场自助游”。他们也从2006年起在武吉布朗导览,成了带团到武吉布朗探秘的先行者。

吴安全说:“武吉布朗加上毗邻的姓黄山和新恒山亭,共有20万个坟墓,所发现的坟墓最早的可追溯到1826年的清道光六年。从那年起到上世纪70年代封山为止近150年的时代变迁,政治演变,价值观的改变,都可从这些古墓上找到历史的印记,我们的历史就是这样一点一滴拼凑起来的!”

今年的两大发现

吴安全和吴安龙以及布朗人的努力,掀起了一股寻找祖先墓地的热潮。由于年代久远,所提供的资料不全,过去八年要求寻墓者不少,但成功率只有一半,不过一些先驱人物坟墓的重新发现,却大大地鼓舞着吴氏兄弟,单是今年最引人注目的就有两处:即凤山寺创建人梁壬癸的古墓和建国总理李光耀外家先人的四座古墓。

根据档案,凤山寺创建人梁壬癸的迁葬墓在武吉布朗坟场。去年,吴安全开始研究道光年间的古墓时,就被一个刻着“梁振荣”的古墓所吸引,开始与本地文史工作者林志强、洪毅瀚等布朗人一起对一组相关古墓展开田野调查。经过一番考证,今年5月公开确定“梁振荣”其实是梁壬癸的谥号。他的妻子余文娘(谥勤慎)、儿子梁瓒福(谥敦睦)、儿媳徐音娘(讳育娘)的迁葬墓也同葬一处。凤山寺是国家古迹,古墓的发现对研究本地最早南安凤坡人移民史具有重要的参考价值。

此外,早报今年6月一则《寻找人力车夫高长古》的新闻,令吴安全联想起建国总理李光耀在回忆录中提到的外公蔡金鼎和外婆梁亚顺。根据打理墓园的苏亚明所提供的线索,吴安全和林志强终于在深山中找到了李光耀的曾外祖父蔡应昌、外祖父蔡金鼎和蔡金鼎第二任妻子萧玉銮的墓。后来又通过下葬记录册找到李光耀外婆,即蔡金鼎的第三任妻子梁亚顺的墓。蔡家是典型的土生华人家庭,蔡金鼎是成功的富商。这批古墓的发现成了研究蔡金鼎家族的重要史料。

除了寻墓,吴安龙还对历史遗址感兴趣。不久前,他与国家文物局总司长(政策)陈子宇发现了一面在新加坡中央医院内有百多年历史的精神病院围墙,那是了解本地心理卫生服务史珍贵的资料。

寻墓最大的困难不是忍受蚊虫叮咬、提防蛇兽出没、杂草阻路,而是根据有限的线索进行发掘。

吴安龙说:“以武吉布朗坟场来说,都有记录册记录埋葬者的资料。问题是很多人不是很清楚先人何时过世,一些后代只知道先人的中文名,记录册则只记英文名,有些还是用手写的。资料越少,寻墓的难度就越大。” 难怪吴安全说,一座古墓的发现,往往是多个学有专长者共同努力的成果,绝不是一两个人的力量所能成就的。

2015年计划

 ★寻墓是吴安全和吴安龙的兴趣,也是义务工作,他们还会继续寻找,因为他们相信1826年以前就已有华人长眠于此。

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2014 Personality of the Year by Zaobao weekly, Dec 28, 2014

Raymond Goh (51) and Charles Goh (46)

Looking at history through the departed

If not for praying to one’s ancestors, one would not usually go to the cemetery. That day the reporter asked a taxi driver to drive her to Bukit Brown cemetery. The driver was not very happy, and so she has to alight at approx. 200 metres from the cemetery at the road cross junction. But the Goh brothers does not have any sort of taboo. They keep on bringing people to the cemetery to look for their roots, rediscovering old tombs hidden in the depths of the forest, bringing history back to life.

Ever since Sep 2011 when news broke out that part of Bukit Brown has to give way to a road and approx 5000 tombs has to be exhumed, nearly twice a month during weekends and public holidays, one would see volunteer guides from all walks of life known as “Brownies” wearing Bukit Brown heritage T shirts, and guiding the public on the history and heritage of Bukit Brown.

Raymond and Charles Goh are a familiar pair among the Brownies and the pioneering guides among them.

Bukit Brown Pioneering Explorers

Charles Goh is a construction safety manager and has from young like to explore the unknown to get to the root of matters. Some things will be forgotten or disappear as one grow up, and Charles hope to revive the forgotten collective memories. Since the SARS crisis of 2003, Charles responded to the call of STB and together with his brother registered as tourist guides. They do voluntary guiding for visitors to the cemetery, and let these visitors know Singapore in an unique way.

Together with Raymond Goh, a pharmacist, they founded Asia Paranormal Investigators, as a step forward to fulfil their ambition to research all things unknown. Since 2006 they also started to lead tours to Bukit Brown, do research into tombs and even design a cemetery map for the public to do DIY tours on their own.

Raymond said that Bukit Brown and the surrounding Seh Ong and Hokkien cemeteries has a total of 200,000 tombs, with the earliest dating all the way to 1826. From that year to the closure of the cemeteries in the early 1970s, one can see 150 years of changes and transformations reflected through the tombstones of Bukit Brown. Our history is gathered piece by piece from the collective stories of all these tombstones.

2014 Great Finds

Through the efforts of Charles, Raymond and the Brownies, there has been a surge in interest to find one's ancestor. Due to the passage of time and insufficient information, the success rate of finding one's ancestor for these tombs is only about 50%, but the rediscoveries of pioneers’ tombs provide much encouragement to the Goh Brothers. This year alone, the two great finds are the founder of Hong San See temple Neo Jin Quee and the family cluster tombs of Lee Kuan Yew maternal ancestors.

According to the archives, Hong San See founder Neo Jin Quee was relocated to Bukit Brown cemetery. When Raymond Goh first encountered this tomb, he combined forces with local history researchers Walter Lim and Ang Yik Han to research into this tomb and finally confirmed the identity of this tomb. The discovery of Neo Jin Quee’s tomb and the tombs of his wife, son and daughter-in-law provide important clues to the study of the immigrant stories of early Lam Ann people to Singapore.

Apart from this, in Jun this year, a news report to find the rickshaw puller Koh Teong Koo made Raymond recalled about Lee Kuan Yew maternal grandfather Chua Kim Teng and maternal grandmother Leong Ah Soon. Based on the clue provided by tombkeeper Soh Ah Beng, Raymond and Walter Lim finally found the tombs of Chua Kim Teng, his second wife and his father’ tombs. They later managed to find Leong Ah Soon’s tomb from the burial register, that is Chua Kim Teng’s third wife. The Chuas were a typical Peranakan family, and Chua Kim Teng was a successful merchant. These finds provide important historical information for the study of this early Chua pioneer family.

Apart from graves, Charles Goh is also interested into heritage sites and ruins. Not long ago, together with NHB Group Director (Policy) Alvin Tan, they rediscovered a century old lunatic asylum wall, which provide valuable information for the study of this early institution.

The greatest difficulty in finding graves is not mosquitos and insects bites, nor wild snakes or animals, nor wild vegetation, but the limited information and resources to find the graves.

Although there are burial records in Bukit Brown, many descendants does not know the dates their ancestors passed away, and some can only remember their ancestors’ Chinese names, while the records are in English. The lesser the information, the more difficult will be the tomb find.
 As such, Raymond said that sometimes it require more than the efforts of one or two persons, but the combined efforts and expertise of many volunteers to help find a tomb.

As for 2015, the Goh brothers will keep on their volunteer work of researching and finding tombs, and their mission is to find an earlier tomb than 1826 as there were already Chinese people then who died before that.

By Mok Mei Ngan
 Photo by Yap Chin Tiong - Raymond and Charles Goh has been researching and rediscovering old tombs in Singapore and sparked local grave interest

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