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The story behind the photo of Tan Soo Bin's family picture at Panglima Prang believed to be taken around 1920.

1920s LEE BROTHERS STUDIO (Picture from National Archives).

Back row standing left to right: Lim Kian Beng (husband of Tan Peng Neo), Tan Eng Wan, Tan Eng Chiang, Tan Soo Bin

Front row left to right : Tan Yew Neo, Tan Cheok Neo, Anna Chia Swee Neo (daughter of Chia Teck Kim), Tan Peng Neo, Song Guat Neo (Mrs Tan Jiak Kam), Tan Eng Ann (baby), Ang Geok Lan (Mrs Tan Jiak Kim), Yeo Yam Neo , Yeo Lim Neo, Tan Kee Neo

It was 1889 Jun 10.  Tan Jiak Kam, a brother of Tan Jiak Kim,  and grandson of Tan Kim Seng,  has died at the relatively young age of 24, leaving behind his young wife of age 17, Song Guat Neo.

Song Guat Neo came from a very old Straits Chinese Family, her brother was Song Chin Eng and father was Song Kee Lian.

Song Guat Neo has suffered from a chronic skin disease and frequently visited a chye tng to seek treatment from teacher there and pray for a cure.

When Mdm Song was cured of her ailment, she decided to dedicate her life to religion. She eventually rose to the rank of Kor Tai and supervised the two vegetarian convents for women. Subsequently, many of the residents were able to converse in Peranakan;  the food also acquired Peranakan flavour. Indeed, the chye tngs became closely identified with the  Peranakan community and its way of life

Today, Song Guat Neo's picture can still be seen hanging at Chek Sian Teng

(Source : The Peranakan, Jan - March issue 2002, pg 9 - 13, Devonshire Road Chye Tng)

Song Guat Neo would be around 48 years old at the time this picture was taken

Tan Jiak Kim has passed away on Oct 1917.   His third wife Ang Geok Lan would be slightly more than 40 years at that time.

She would died in a few years' time in 1925

Jiak Kim eldest daughter Tan Suat Neo was married to Ong Hood Hin, son of Ong Tiang Soon in 1905, but died just a few years later in 1909.  

This picture should also have be taken shortly after the death of Chia Teck Kim (DOD 22 Oct 1918) as he was not seen in this picture.  He was only 30 years old, son of Chia Keng Bock and grandson of Chia Ann Siang 

His widow Tan Peng Neo (also 30 years old) would have brought their daughter Swee Neo back to her parents house at Panglima Prang. Peng Neo was the second daughter of Tan Jiak Kim

Compared to a earlier picture of Tan Jiak Kim and his family taken around 1917 shortly before he passed away (DOD 22 Oct 1917), his two grand children Tan Eng Wan and Tan Eng Chiang (children of Tan Soo Bin) had grown by a couple of years

Tan Jiak Kim third wife Geok Lan (also daughter of Ang Kim Tee) and 2 grandsons Eng Wan and Eng Chiang  (pic originally from G.R. Lambert & Co, taken shortly before his death in Oct 1917). 

Tan Jiak Kim has married three daughters of Ang Kim Tee,  after they died successively after one another.

The young athletic gentleman standing besides Tan Peng Neo and Song Guat Neo was Lim Kian Beng.  He has just married Jiak Kim youngest daughter Tan Sun Neo a few years ago in July 1917.  Lim Kian Beng was a long time member of the Straits Chinese Physical Culturists

As for Tan Soo Bin’s children, his youngest son Tan Eng Ann would died during the occupation years in Oct 15 1943 after a short illness . He was born of the second wife Helen Yeo Yam Neo, a daughter of Yeo Poon Seng. Yam Neo herself died shortly there after in Dec 23  1943 at the age of 50.  Yam Neo ‘s daughter Rosalind Tan Hoe Neo passed away on Apr 29, 1941 at Melbourne, a few months after going there to study infant welfare work. Tan Peng Neo has adopted Hoe Neo as a daughter as well. 

Tan Soo Bin first wife Lo Tsung Kee has passed away a few years ago in 1914 before leaving behind Eng Chiang, Eng Wan, Yew Neo, Kee Neo and Cheok Neo.  
Eng Chiang lived a relatively long life till 1998 at the age of 89.
But his sisters Kee Neo died shortly after Soo Bin’s death while Cheok Neo died in 1933 at the young age of 23. Cheok Neo was married to Ong Cheng Bee, son of Ong Hood Hin 

Thanks to Anthony Sng, Matt Tan, Tan Koon Siang, Vivienne Tan and Ying Rou Show for assistance.

Research is still ongoing for this article.  Any comments / suggestions are welcome.

Many of the info are based on tombstones found in Bukit Brown / Chua Chu Kang cemetery and newspapers archives by NAS. 

The Straits Times
Oct 30, 2018
Melissa Heng

The new Lornie Highway - previously known as Bukit Brown Road - was greeted on its first working morning yesterday with heavy and slow traffic.

The traffic in Lornie Highway towards the Pan-Island Expressway as well as Adam Road and Farrer Road yesterday morning. The first section of the new highway had opened to much lighter traffic on Sunday.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The first section of the new highway had opened to much lighter traffic on Sunday.

Yesterday, strategic analyst Mahindra Jith, 32, said his usual 30-minute journey to work took around twice the time.

He drove from his home in Serangoon to his office in Clementi, taking the new highway. Though he entered the highway at about 8am, he was stuck there for almost an hour.

"Traffic was very heavy both going into and out of the highway. I think drivers were unsure of the new road and the exits and were going a little slow," he said.

Administrative assistant Christine Lim, 37, also experienced slow traffic on the highway at around 8am yesterday, taking 15 minutes more to get to her Bukit Merah office from her Yishun home.

"I expected traffic to be slow since it was the first working day for the highway. It's a different road, so people would take their time and look around," she said.

When asked about the slow traffic, a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesman said Lornie Road typically experiences heavy traffic during morning and evening peak hours.

"While peak traffic is still expected with the opening of the new southbound Lornie Highway, the full completion of Lornie Highway in the first quarter of 2019 will help to ease congestion in Lornie Road and the PIE (Pan-Island Expressway), and cater to expected growth in future traffic demand."

The LTA will continue to closely monitor traffic conditions in Lornie Road, said the spokesman, noting that traffic signs have been provided on site to help motorists navigate to their destinations using the new road.

"During this interim period, we seek motorists' patience and understanding as construction works are carried out to complete the remaining tunnels and road system," said the spokesman.

Lornie Highway was announced in 2011 and at first slated to be completed by the middle of 2016. It went through repeated delays in the past two years.

The southbound section of the road, which runs parallel to Lornie Road, facilitates traffic flow from Thomson towards the PIE as well as Adam Road and Farrer Road.

The LTA said this month that motorists heading towards the PIE, Adam Road and Farrer Road are advised to use the new highway to get to their destinations. The existing southbound four-lane Lornie Road was reduced to two lanes on Sunday.

Though Lornie Highway has not seen a great start, drivers are hopeful the morning peak period journey on the highway will improve.

Ms Lim said: "The new road looks amazing and is better than the old one. Lornie Road has had bad traffic for years so I really hope this new highway improves things."

Mr Mahindra said he feels traffic conditions will get better once drivers get used to the highway.

"I think once people get used to using it, things will get better. Maybe in a few weeks. The road used to have more curves but now it's much straighter. So people should be able to go faster," he said.


陆路交通管理局答复本台询问时证实,衔接麦里芝高架桥和亚当高架桥的罗尼大道(Lornie Highway),南向路段的部分预计延至到今年第四季才启用,比早前宣布的第三季竣工时间更长了。






- CH8/LW

The Straits Times,
Oct 29, 2018
by Janice Tai, Social Affairs Correspondent

Vehicles travelling along the southbound Lornie Highway yesterday. The northbound part of the highway will be completed in phases.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Southbound stretch to ease congestion from Thomson to PIE and Adam Road

After repeated delays stretching more than two years, the first section of the Lornie Highway - previously known as the Bukit Brown Road - was finally opened to traffic early yesterday.

The southbound section of the road, which runs parallel to Lornie Road, facilitates traffic flow from Thomson towards the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) as well as Adam and Farrer roads.

An underpass near the entrance of the highway allows motorists to access the residential area in Lornie Road, while a temporary road connection near Sime Road has been built to connect traffic from the existing southbound Lornie Road to the southbound Lornie Highway.

A drive by The Straits Times yesterday morning on both Lornie Road and the new Lornie Highway found traffic to be smooth.

Residents and motorists hope the new highway will ease traffic on Lornie Road, which can slow to a crawl during peak hours.

"The golden hour for the jam on Lornie Road is 8am," said entrepreneur Delane Lim, 33, who travels from Sengkang to Adam Road or Bukit Timah every day. "The filtering lane where vehicles enter the road is always jammed."

Grab driver Edwin Lim, 42, said the stretch from Toa Payoh to Lornie Road, then Farrer Road and Ayer Rajah, is usually slow-moving.

"With the new highway, I think it's likely to save five minutes of travelling time and ease the congestion a little," he added.

The Land Transport Authority said earlier this month that motorists heading towards the PIE, Adam Road and Farrer Road are advised to use the new highway to reach their destinations.

The new Lornie Highway, when fully completed by the first quarter of next year, will cater to expected growth in future traffic demand.

The existing southbound four-lane Lornie Road will also be reduced to two lanes. Traffic on the MacRitchie Viaduct flows directly onto the new highway. Southbound motorists using Lornie Road will have to access it via surface roads.

The northbound Lornie Highway will be completed in phases. When the stretch fully opens by the first quarter of next year, a new underpass at the Sime Road junction will remove the need for the existing signalised junction there.

Lornie Highway is meant to cater to growth in future traffic demand arising from redevelopment of the Bukit Brown area. Traffic is expected to increase by 20 to 30 per cent by 2020.

The road project had been delayed repeatedly. It was announced in 2011, and at first slated to be completed by mid-2016, then by end-2017, and then in two phases from the third quarter of this year.

When the project was announced, it stirred up strong protests from nature and heritage groups because it cut across a vast forested area and the Bukit Brown cemetery, where many of Singapore's pioneers were buried. More than 3,000 graves in the area have been exhumed.

Mr Alvin Tan, 52, chief operating officer of a renewable energy company, uses Lornie Road to travel from Bukit Timah to the Upper Thomson Road area a few times a week. He said he did not think there was a need for a new highway just to shave off a few minutes of travel.

Agreeing, research assistant Craig D' Souza, 30, who lives opposite Thomson Plaza, said it is a pity to see a section of the forest being cleared for a road.

"However, I understand there are practical reasons for this highway, especially since future development around the area is expected."


文/谢燕燕 摄影/萧紫薇























联合晚报 / 陈可扬













The Straits Times
Jun 1, 2018
by Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent
Khoe Wei Jun

SINGAPORE - Cracks across at least two lanes on Adam Road caused a massive traffic jam tailing back to Bartley and Serangoon during the morning rush on Friday (June 1).

The Land Transport Authority said the cracks, which appeared right next to a huge excavation to build an underpass which will be part of the Bukit Brown road, were caused by water pressure that had built up because of heavy rain.

The cracks, which appeared right next to a huge excavation to build an underpass which will be part of the Bukit Brown road, were caused by water pressure that had built up because of heavy rain.PHOTO: ST READER

The LTA said the it discovered the cracks at 8am along a stretch of Adam Road after the MacRitchie Flyover.

“Two out of four lanes were immediately closed to facilitate repairs,” a spokesman said, adding that all lanes were reopened at about 10am, “after we ascertained that the road is safe for use”.

The widespread congestion however, was still apparent well past 10.30am.

After investigating, the authority issued a follow-up statement at around 6.40m. In it, it said heavy rain had led to water to accumulating and seeping under the road base.

The built-up pressure from the water caused the road section “to heave, thus resulting in the cracks on the road surface”.

Cracks found along Adam Road repaired, all lanes reopened to public

It said the cracks were not caused by the nearby construction works, and “do not pose any structural risks”. It added that water under the road base has since been drained..

When the Straits Times arrived at the scene at 10.30am, the roads were cleared and construction workers were seen near the area of the crack.

Personnel from the Public Utilities Board and LTA were also spotted assessing the situation.

Ms Ong, a motorist who was affected by the traffic jam, said she left her home in Lorong Chuan at 7.30am and ended up being "very late" for her 8am meeting with her friends.

Said the 44-year-old housewife: "The jam was so terrible. My car was going up (due to the uneven ground) as I drove past the area (with the cracks). It was very dangerous as no one knew what was going on.

"Fortunately no one had an accident."

A civil engineer who declined to be named said the cracks were likely to have been caused by soil movements below the road related to nearby construction works.

He said the rain might have contributed to the "loss of ground... by draining away soil, thereby weakening the site".

There was once a gaol clerk who risked his life to secretly record and save the name list of those who are executed or died in Outram prison, and even let POWs copied the name list secretly on the pages of the Bible.

Today we would like to pay tribute to this man and publish this name list of the 1470 deaths who are buried in mass trenches in Bukit Brown.


On 12 Sep 1945,  not so long after the war ended,  The Australia Morning Bulletin published the prisoners' stories of Singapore Gaol Horrors, describing Outram Gaol as the Blackest Spot of All"

It was reported that Pte A. K. Mitchell, of Seymour (Victoria) and a British doctor copied death records on the pages of a Bible belonging to a friendly Chinese gaol records clerk.

Pie Mitchell said that in the 15 months from May, 1944, up till July this year 1136 natives died
of starvation and disease. In the two years up till July this year 142 Chinese were hanged.
Pte Mitchell described the hanging of the Chinese as shocking.
Their courage, he said, was amazing. Most of the Chinese were men and boys. Some were hanged for listening to Chungking broadcasts. One lad of 17 was hanged because he had donated 50
cents to the British Spitfire fund before the Japanese invaded.

Who was this friendly Chinese gaol record clerk who let the POWs copy death records on the pages of his Bible at the risk of his life?

On 23 Feb 1946,  there was an important article published in Straits Times.   It was a name list of 1470 prisoners who died in the Outram Road Gaol (Civilian) during the Japanese occupation.

This list was secretly by two people employed in the gaol.  The list was kept in English and it is possible that some of the names differ slightly from their Chinese equivalents as there is a variety of ways in which Chinese names can be romanised.   As the Japanese did not let relatives or friends know the fate of those who are arrested, it is probable that most of the people in this list are among those posted as "missing, fate unknown"

Some time later during the war crimes trial for the Outram Road Civil Gaol Crimes, the name of the prison clerk who had saved the register of the prisoner with its grim record of 1,000 deaths was make known and complimented.  He was Mr Benjamin Cheah, Chief Records Clerk at Outram Road Gaol, before and during the occupation.

Who was this Benjamin Cheah who risked his life to secretly saved the name list of those who are executed or died in the prison, and even let POWs copied the death records on the pages of the Bible?


It was a Death Notice published on Straits Times. 22 Aug 1951.  It reported the death of Benjamin Cheah Chun Hoi, age 60 years, who passed away at 24, Pearl's Hill Terrace, on the 20 Aug 1951, leaving his beloved wife, 4 sons and 4 daughters.

Pearl's Hill Terrace used to house government servants.   Benjamin Cheah held the post of chief clerk of Outram Gaol and also acted as interpreter.

Benjamin must have rose through the ranks.  On 1 Apr 1908, when he was just 17 years he joined as an Extra Clerk in the Chinese Protectorate.  At that time Ho Siak Kuan was the Chinese Translator and Interpreter.

Benjamin first wife died in 1924, and he married again in 1931 to Ms Lee Ah Moi who taught in St Andrew's School from 1947 till her retirement in 1960.

On 24 May 1990, Mrs Cheah, Benjamin wife,  passed away at age 88 and was survived by her sons Dick and Andrew and daughters.

Dick Cheah (Benjamin's son), a nursing officer, married Kate in 1976, and together they have 2 sons.
Mrs Kate Cheah is actually the daughter of the founder of Polar Cafe, Chan Hinky
(Now Polar Puffs and Cakes).

They have met each other as early as 1950/51 whereby the Chan family was staying temporarily in Pearl's Hill Terrace, where Kate eldest sister 's husband was working as an interpreter in Outram Gaol.

According to Mrs Kate Cheah's book "Sweet Memories, Sweet Success",  Dick forefathers had been part of a minority Chinese exodus that went to British Guiana to seek a better life.   Benjamin, Dick's father was born there but came to Penang when he was still a teenager. He then came to Singapore to work.

The Name List secretly recorded in English by Benjamin Cheah
















End of Name List

The Straits Times May 2, 2018

by Melody Zaccheus, Heritage and Community Correspondent

Bukit Brown may have been dumping grounds for Outram Gaol prisoners who died during the Japanese Occupation

Tomb researcher Raymond Goh (back) with tomb keeper Soh Hung Seng at a valley at the Block 4 area of Bukit Brown Cemetery, where some people believe war victims might lie. More research and archaeological work need to be conducted.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Hidden beneath the dirt of Bukit Brown Cemetery are the remains of thousands of men, women and children unceremoniously dumped into unmarked graves, the victims of a brutal war.

Historical records tell of trucks with bodies piled high in the back, and witnesses described how medicos would lift the bodies on stretchers, one by one, before tipping them over into open pits.

But this was known to historians. Now one man's obsession with clawing through old records to tell the stories of the forgotten has unearthed another tragic tale.

Somewhere in Bukit Brown Cemetery are dumping grounds for almost 1,400 civilians who died in the lesser-known Outram Gaol prison during the Japanese Occupation.

Tomb researcher Raymond Goh made the discovery after matching the names of the 1,400 people, mostly civilians, who were executed or died from diseases at the Outram Gaol prison, to Bukit Brown's burial registry. Their names were published over three days in The Straits Times in February 1946.

His finding is supported by other records which note the existence of mass graves at the site, and dovetails with other research and accounts.

Bukit Brown burial records show that during the Japanese Occupation, Singapore Municipal Commission lorries used to dump the bodies of the war dead there.

And in a 2012 book on his war experience, an Outram Gaol survivor, Australian prisoner of war Billy Young, said he and a friend saw 30 or 40 corpses piled together in a truck at the cemetery in 1942. The workers told the pair that three to four such trips were made to the cemetery daily.

If Mr Goh's finding is confirmed by archaeological evidence, it would be the first major discovery of a war grave since more than 400 urns holding the remains of war victims were found in the Siglap area in 1962.

As of now, no remains have been dug up yet and more research needs to be done to to locate where the 1,400 are precisely buried.

The Outram Gaol prison stood at the foot of Pearl's Hill before it was demolished in 1963.

Archaeologist Lim Chen Sian said that to narrow down the site of the mass grave or graves, more archival work and interviews with witnesses need to be conducted. Mr Lim said: "It would only be respectful to account for the people who died in the war and lay the victims to rest properly."

Some clues suggest the graves may be at Block 4 at the cemetery.

One of Bukit Brown's tomb keepers, the late Mr Soh Gor Tong, witnessed bodies being dumped into communal trenches around that plot of land. Born in the 1920s, Mr Soh worked in the cemetery all his life. He died in the early 2000s.

Last month, Mr Soh's son, also a tomb keeper, took The Straits Times to Block 4.

Mr Soh Hung Seng, 65, said: "My father saw the lorries with the bodies... he would run and hide.

"After the war, when people asked why these plots weren't better utilised for other burials, he would say it was because they held the bodies of the war dead who were dumped into trenches."

Bukit Brown volunteer Simone Lee, 36, said the burial registry indicates that mass burials took place at the cemetery from 1941 to 1946, and Blocks 1, 2 and 3 were presumably full by the time World War II came around. The next available area for mass trenches would be at Block 4, she added.

The burial registry indicates that from Dec 9, 1941 to Feb 8, 1942, the total number of the war dead buried in communal trenches at the cemetery stood at 848. The Japanese formally surrendered only in September 1945.

Mr Goh said: "In the chaos, many bodies were dumped, and families who were themselves incapacitated by the war could not always claim the bodies."

The researcher's 2016 discovery of a war memorial in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery, which housed the remains of several Chinese who died during the Occupation, resulted in the authorities working to document, retain and relocate it.

Battlefield archaeologist Jon Cooper said it is still possible to find evidence of grave cuts and temporary grave markers.

Mr Goh urged the authorities to dedicate resources to strengthen World War II research at Bukit Brown and its surrounding areas "so that the deaths of the thousands of victims, many of whom were tortured brutally, are not in vain".


Reports of torture and hangings

Some Chinese prisoners in Outram Gaol were hanged just for listening to broadcasts from mainland China, said Australia's The Morning Bulletin on Sept 12, 1945.

In another incident, a 17-year-old boy was hanged for donating 60 cents to the British Spitfire fund before the Japanese invaded.

According to the same report based on an account by Australian private A.K. Mitchell, who had survived imprisonment in Outram Gaol, hangings were "clumsy affairs".

The report said that many bodies were mutilated as the Japanese could not properly work the triple gallows. Executions were always watched by Japanese officers "seated on chairs laughing and joking".

Private Mitchell said the Outram Gaol echoed daily with the screams of natives being thrashed with heavy rattan. Prisoners were tied across a rack and the "backs of many of them were cut to ribbons".

The guards would also drag prisoners into cells and practise jujitsu on them, "slamming them into unconsciousness on the stone floors", said the article. Men were bashed on the slightest provocation and "every man who died was murdered".

The report further stated that at least 14 British, Australian and Dutch soldiers either died or were executed in the prison.

The Gaol's prisoners were described as being in bad shape. "Their eyes gazed blankly from their sockets and their skin was stretched tightly over their skeleton frames. They had ghastly tropical ulcers and unkempt, matted hair, and bearded, yellow faces."

Video Link


Source : https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/more-war-graves-beneath-grounds-of-bukit-brown

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