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一張照片背後的辛酸故事

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.




俗称咖啡山的武吉布朗坟场新道路又延迟启用,原定最迟这个月底通车的南向路段将推迟到第四季才启用。

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。

一旦这部分的路段通车后,驾车人士可以从麦里芝高架桥直接开往泛岛快速公路和亚当高架桥。到时,罗尼路南向的部分路段,将从四条车道改为两条车道。那么做是为了建造一条从罗尼路衔接到罗尼大道的道路。到了明年第一季,整条罗尼路将变成两条车道。陆路交通管理局表示,从8月5日起,罗尼路南向路段开始改道。


另外,往麦里芝高架桥的北向路段则分阶段完成,预计明年第一季通车。陆路交通管理局将密切监督工程进度,以确保工程在安全的情况下完成,同时减少对驾车人士的不便。当局也已同附近的居民保持沟通,让他们了解工程的进度。

陆路交通管理局是在2011年9月,宣布兴建一条穿过咖啡山的新道路,工程包括一段670米长的汽车天桥,并在安德烈路附近兴建地下车道连接到罗尼路。

工程原定2016年底竣工,不过,咖啡山挖掘坟墓的工作却展延到2014年底才完成,以让亲人有更多时间登记和认领。

此外,标得设计与建造合约的主要承包商瑞丰后来面对财务问题,进一步拖延了施工时间,导致工程无法按时间表完成。

- 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."

联合早报
2018年9月6日

文/谢燕燕 摄影/萧紫薇



寻墓人吴安全(左)与文化历史线记者谢燕燕的合照。



早报团队报道过无数大小新闻,而这一篇篇新闻报道,向读者传递信息,同时对记者和受访者产生一定的影响,且通过三名资深记者与他们受访者的故事,一窥究竟。

新加坡开埠200年,建国却仅仅半个多世纪。历史学家如今认为700多年前,这里已是各地船只停靠和进行交易的市集。从开埠建国算起,我们的历史还短浅,编写工作尚在进行,这也就让采访文化历史线的工作变得更有意思。

我们在建国过程中,急急忙忙求发展,好些时候毫无眷恋地让发展巨轮迅速地碾平我们的甘榜、学校、戏院、庙宇,让这些与一代人成长记忆息息相关的景致,永远从岛国消失。

很多历史性建筑,例如国家图书馆和国家剧场,顺应建国时期的社会需求,匆忙地拔地而起;在社会变得富裕时仓促拆毁,却忘了这些建筑承载着一代人的集体文化记忆。

有很长一段时间,我们只往前看,一味追求发展,漠视社群的共同经历与记忆,缺乏历史意识。不过这种趋势近年似乎有所缓和,民间涌现一批热衷族群历史的文史爱好者,愿意一头栽进历史的搜集与研究,肯花时间从历史遗留下来的蛛丝马迹,一点一滴地拼凑先人的故事。

这群人当中有的还很愿意动员亲友同学,一起重新拼凑已散落成碎片的记忆,述说已不复存在的聚落、社区、甘榜、学校或庙宇的故事,重构自身的微历史。例如,乌敏岛和德光岛前岛民都在重构岛民历史,很多已消失的学校的校友,退休后着手整理校史。


前内阁部长杨荣文曾在一篇题为《没有过去的记忆就没有未来》的专访中说,历史是很奇怪的,在一个族群部落里,从基因上来说,总有一些人喜欢收藏,一些人专门做记录,一些人对历史产生兴趣,其他人毫无兴趣,但是历史却给了大家力量、慰藉和保障。

他认为,“对过去太执着没有未来,但完全不知道过去同样没有未来。两者之间,一定要对记忆有平衡和新颖鲜活的处理方式”。

从事新闻工作超过30年,2008年初从《新明日报》调到《联合早报》后,开始采访文化历史和社团动态,触摸本地历史。这是我的记者生涯中最有收获最有满足感的一段经历。

我被调到早报前,曾担任《新明日报》两本《庙宇文化》书籍的文字编辑,当时便意识到可以从庙宇挖掘地方历史。庙宇作为某个村落或族群的核心,往往是社会变迁的见证者。

很多本地文史工作者正是从庙宇切入,开始挖掘地方志和人文历史。2008年曾报道石叻学会以中英文出版的《万山港福德祠历史溯源——投桃之报》。两名作者吕世聪和洪毅瀚借助这座广东社群的百年古庙,鲜活而深入地挖出加冷河流域的历史,从建庙先贤带出早期社群领袖,又从庙宇祭祀习俗和神祇,勾勒出本地民间信仰的缘由与发展。

除了庙宇,会馆也是族群历史的重要载体。注重历史传承的社团会馆,总会在大庆时出版纪念特刊,重述或重新梳理会馆历史。华人向来对能被“载入史册”特别自豪,很多会馆因此愿意花钱出版特刊。

想要研究历史,首先必须有资料。近代史学家傅斯年(1896年-1950年)曾说:“上穷碧落下黄泉,动手动脚找资料”。要研究历史,不能单靠纸上文献,还要从墓碑和“地下”寻找考古的依据。

已数不清曾经和吴安全这位寻墓人到过新恒山亭、老山、武吉布朗寻墓多少回,但每次踏青,总能在古墓间挖出先辈们一些鲜活有趣、却已被遗忘的历史,并把这些新发现的旧事当“新闻”刊在报章上。

拼出李光耀柯玉芝家族历史
这些算不上是新闻,却是细心拼凑后重新被激活的新加坡故事,是从土地里被唤醒的记忆,是岛国先民的微历史。把这些故事串联起来,就能展现早期历史的某个面向。这类故事收集得越多,就会发现不同故事的主人翁,有着千丝万缕,错综复杂的关系,毕竟是发生在同一个时空下的事儿。

2014年6月,我应建国总理李光耀的弟弟李祥耀医生之邀出席一个聚餐会,目的是拼凑李家人力车夫高长古与年少李光耀一段死里逃生的故事。聚餐者包括高长古两名来自香港的孙子高洪庆和高洪旺,以及协助李医生联络上高家后人的退休商人陈进福。

《寻找人力车夫高长古》一文见报后,引起吴安全的注意,让他想起李光耀曾在回忆录中提到外公蔡金鼎和外婆梁亚顺。更巧的是,他有个专门帮人打理墓园的朋友苏亚明,正好在那个时候用手机把蔡应昌和蔡金鼎的坟墓照片传给他看。

经常在深山老林里打转的吴安全其实见过蔡应昌、蔡金鼎父子的墓,只是之前没多加留意,也不清楚墓主人身份。当他再回去研究那些墓时,已能从李光耀曾外祖父蔡应昌、外祖父蔡金鼎、蔡金鼎第二任妻子萧玉銮,还有李光耀亲外祖母梁亚顺(蔡金鼎第三任妻子)的墓找到各种资料来拼凑蔡家历史。李祥耀医生对外公的记忆,还有他手上的资料与照片则补充了这段家族史的内容。

2016年4月,吴安全从阮添筹位于老山的古墓拼凑了另一则故事,把这位曾被列入宋鸿祥《新加坡华人百年史》的著名律师,与早期义兴公司大总理阮锡禧,还有李光耀夫人柯玉芝的外祖父阮添成串联起来。原来阮锡禧是阮添筹的祖父,阮添成是阮添筹的弟弟,这意味着阮锡禧是柯玉芝的高外祖父。

考究历史不断有新发现。两年前写阮添筹的故事时,学界都认定阮锡禧是本地福建帮义兴公司的大总理,但是吴安全最近从1971年报章上的迁坟通告发现,阮锡禧极可能是汕头溪南镇岱美村的潮州人。这正是研究历史有趣之处。
每次踏青,总能在古墓间挖出先辈们一些鲜活有趣、却已被遗忘的历史,并把这些新发现的旧事当“新闻”刊在报章上。这些算不上是新闻,却是细心拼凑后重新被激活的新加坡故事,是从土地里被唤醒的记忆,是岛国先民的微历史。把这些故事串联起来,就能展现早期历史的某个面向。

(作者为资深娱乐专线记者)

2018年7月27日
联合晚报 / 陈可扬

受南北高速公路工程影响需要迁坟,当局多次刊登通告后仍无后人认领,位于汤申路的一座160年历史孤坟内的遗骨,日前由庆德会出面认领;遗骨火化后,已于前天(7月25日)安放在蔡厝港骨灰塔。



左图:位于汤申路李亚妹安老院后山的孤坟,1859年至今都未曾迁移,保存良好,日前因南北高速公路工程起坟。右图:认领遗骨的庆德会会长陈坤祥(左)以及从中穿针引线的寻墓人吴安全在“陈门梁孺人”骨灰安放处前留影。(受访者提供)

陆路交通管理局日前为进行南北高速公路工程,征用汤申路李亚妹安老院旁的一块土地,其中就包括一座1859年下葬的坟墓。

当局后来在报章上多次刊登通告,要求后人认领遗骨,却无人回应。


按当局工作流程,被征用的坟墓如果无人认领,将在宗教信仰允许下,将遗骨火化,保存骨灰三年后撒入大海。

墓碑上的文字显示,这个坟属于一位“陈门梁孺人”,也就是嫁入陈家的梁姓妇女。

本地知名寻墓人吴安全(54岁)多年前受人之托寻找新加坡开埠时期潮州帮领袖佘有进的坟墓时,无意间发现这座坟墓。

他后来研究这块地的旧地契时发现,这块地在1853年被梁赞源买下,因此推断墓主属于梁赞源家族,而梁赞源就是本地最古老的互助团体“庆德会”的36位创建人之一。

在吴安全穿针引线之下,庆德会出面认领遗骨火化,并于前天安置在蔡厝港骨灰塔。

庆德会会长陈坤祥受询时透露,墓主有可能是创建人梁赞源的女儿梁魁娘,庆德会考虑到这一层关系,而且该墓下葬近160年,至今未曾迁移,有其历史意义,于是决定出面认领。他说:“我们考虑到这个坟墓的历史价值,觉得有责任确保这段历史记录不被时间掩埋,因此决定接手。”

早报数码去年制作《完成一个梦》时,曾有一集讲述梁赞源的迁葬墓在武吉布朗被发现后,如何找回墓主后人的故事,当时就是通过陈坤祥联络上梁赞源的后人梁英杰以及梁达骏。

陈坤祥说:“据我们了解,梁家后人目前不在新加坡,我们已经给留言通知他们古墓迁葬的消息。”

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


2


3


4


5

6


7


8


9


10



11


12


13

14


15


16


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

https://youtu.be/DVm2o6lCbRc

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

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