Update of news and articles on Bukit Brown

June 2011

ST Forum
Jun 27, 2011

Save selected parts of Bukit Brown Cemetery

I HAVE just returned from a trip to Malacca and had the opportunity to visit the Unesco World Heritage city's famous Bukit China Cemetery ('Take a DIY walking tour at Bukit Brown'; June 18).
Singapore's Bukit Brown Cemetery may pale beside Bukit China in terms of size or the size and age of the graves themselves, but it is our own. Chinese Singaporeans like me will undoubtedly experience a sense of history, identity and pride visiting the graves at Bukit Brown which belong to our Chinese forefathers, including prominent personalities like Tan Lark Sye, Lim Chong Pang and Chew Boon Lay.

Bukit Brown also boasts the oldest grave in Singapore dating from 1833 and the largest grave 'guarded' by statues of the Sikh watchmen or jagas, belonging to businessman Ong Sam Leong and his wife.
While we understand the need to adopt a balanced approach towards conservation in our land-scarce country, nonetheless I hope the authorities will heed the calls of Singaporeans to find creative ways to conserve at least parts of Bukit Brown, perhaps by relocating some selected graves and tombstones to occupy a smaller area.

As the Bukit China graveyard shows, a historic cemetery may yet have its place in the modern cityscape.
More importantly, its conservation, even if it is done selectively, may mean that this and future generations of Singaporeans need not mourn yet another loss of an invaluable and irreplaceable piece of our heritage which contributes to our sense of rootedness to the place we call home.

Edwin Pang

ST News
Jun 19, 2011

An uphill struggle saving Bt Brown

Is there a middle path between the development and conservation lobbies?

Statues of Sikh guards watching over one of the graves in Bukit Brown Cemetery. The URA has earmarked the 86ha graveyard for housing development, but historians and concerned citizens say its destruction will wipe out an invaluable piece of Singapore's past. -- ST PHOTO: TED CHEN

To some, Bukit Brown signifies a living history book and a wildlife haven. Others find it a oasis, away from the city's hustle and bustle.

Either way, most will agree that the cemetery, off Lornie Road, is the last of its kind.

Years back, Bukit Timah Cemetery made way for KK Women's and Children's Hospital, and Pek San Theng in Bishan is now chock-a-block with Housing Board flats.

The changes come against a backdrop of dwindling cemeteries. Available records show that in 1952, there were 229 burial grounds, including many small ones since exhumed.

Current records indicate there are 60 cemeteries, almost all of them small ones.

Unsurprisingly, a controversy is brewing around the recently announced redevelopment of Bukit Brown Cemetery in a case of 'the living versus the dead'.
The heat generated online and in the pages of the press captures the dichotomy between compact but economically vibrant Singapore's conservation and development aspirations.

The 'for development' stance, taken by the Government, stresses the need to use the 86ha of prime land to house our growing population in the long term.

The 'for conservation' stance, taken by historians and concerned citizens, say its destruction will wipe out an invaluable piece of a past social and historical life.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) says there are no intentions to conserve the site, and that plans are in place to build the Bukit Brown MRT Station at Jalan Mashhor, a stone's throw from the 80,000-tombstone cemetery.

An empty shell now, the station will open when the area is more developed.

In its response to concerned readers who wrote letters to The Straits Times, the URA explained that its hands are tied: while it shares the sentiments for conservation, it sees a need to strike a balance. The area is needed for housing, it says.

Critics do not buy into this argument. The Singapore Heritage Society has produced a book to document Singapore's cemeteries and has argued for conservation in the form of open-air museums or parks.

A petition by Dr Irving Johnson, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore's Department of South-east Asian Studies, is being circulated to keep Bukit Brown intact.

Among suggestions made are calls for the Government to develop housing sites elsewhere, such as the golf course across the cemetery.

With both arguments equally persuasive, perhaps the solution lies in a middle path.

I personally love old things and would never replace the old-school pattern of mosaic tiles of my living- room floor with marble. And the idea of soulless glass windows in place of my impossible-to-clean diamond-shaped window grilles fills me with dread.

That is why I am a preservation sentimentalist. Save the squeaky old mesh Gillman Village bridge? Yes. The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station? We must. The Bukit Brown Cemetery? But of course.

Alas, reality is not quite so pat.

The cemetery's ageing tombstones are overgrown with weeds and potholes riddle its roads.

Planners do need to look at the situation a decade or two down the road, even if there may be no immediate need now to pump new housing into the market.

Indeed, even if the Government decides to conserve Bukit Brown fully, it would need greater public support - which is not the case now.

One other idea being floated is for the URA to gazette the site as conserved and sell it with this proviso to developers.

But profit-seeking developers might back off. Prospective buyers, too, may not want to be tied down.
Above all, current conservation criteria apply only to buildings and other structures with architectural merit. It would be a stretch to label tombstones as such.

Truth be told, Singapore still lacks a conservation culture. The hope is that, with time, this will change. But for now, perhaps partial conservation is the answer.

Some of the cemetery's green space, with its graves and weather-beaten trees intact, should be kept as a buffer between MacRitchie Reservoir and busy Lornie Road.

A green corridor should also be preserved for joggers and wildlife.

Notable graves should be given a second look and the area's role as a natural water filtration system for MacRitchie Reservoir should also be taken into account.

The good news is that the URA has not foreclosed an acceptable way to keep a part of Bukit Brown intact.
Over to you, history folk.

ST News
Jun 18, 2011

Take a DIY walking tour at Bukit Brown

Activists are hoping that self-guided walking tours at Bukit Brown Cemetery this Sunday and next will help raise greater public awareness of the rich heritage found there. The site is set to be redeveloped for housing. -- ST PHOTO: TED CHEN

BUKIT Brown Cemetery off Lornie Road will be turned into a walk-through museum tomorrow and next Sunday.

Visitors who show up between 8.30am and 11.30am those two days can take a walk through the place, making stops at some of the more prominent graves, which will be marked out with placards.
The information markers come courtesy of Asia Paranormal Investigators (API), a society which conducts guided tours for small groups through the cemetery.

API is welcoming larger groups to the cemetery in a drive to raise public awareness of the rich cultural heritage buried in the mounds and grass there, on the back of the announcement that Bukit Brown has been slated for housing development.

API founder Charles Goh said he hoped that those who visit the cemetery will 'realise what they are losing'.
He added that the walk-through museum will be a fixture if the public response on these two Sundays is good.

A ground-up movement calling for the conservation of the cemetery has picked up steam since the end of last month, when it emerged that the Government had plans for the 86ha of rolling hills.
An online petition calling for the conservation of Bukit Brown has attracted more than 170 signatures since it was launched on June 5.

Dr Irving Johnson, an assistant professor of South-east Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore who initiated the drive, said he plans to send the signatures with a letter to the President.
The Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) has also acted. It has produced a book titled Spaces Of The Dead:

A Case From The Living to document the cemeteries here and to argue for them to be conserved as open-air museums or parks.

And more than a dozen readers of The Straits Times have written to the newspaper's Forum page to weigh in on both sides of the issue.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said last month, however, that the Government has to be 'very selective' about what to conserve because land is so scarce here.

It has not given a timeframe for the redevelopment, but plans for the Bukit Brown MRT station in Jalan Mashhor have already been drawn up.

A URA spokesman said the Government's land sales arm has noted the people's views, but added: 'While we cater for conservation, we also need to balance it against other needs in the community, such as housing for people.'

She added that Bukit Brown will be needed for housing, as it is centrally located and near established residential areas.

Those visiting the cemetery tomorrow or next Sunday can approach it from Lornie Road. From there, turn into Sime Road, which becomes Kheam Hock Road, and into Lorong Halwa, where the cemetery gates are.

Today Voices, Jun 18, 2011

Why Bukit Brown is needed for housing

Letter from Tan See Nin Director (Physical Planning) Urban Redevelopment Authority

WE REFER to Mr Ronald Chan's letter 'Why destroy natural habitat when other land available' (June 15).

The Urban Redevelopment Authority has been consciously conserving both built and natural heritage in our planning for Singapore.

For instance, just across the road from Bukit Brown is our Central Catchment, a large protected tropical nature reserve which has a special place in the heart of many nature lovers.
Planning for the long-term in land-scarce Singapore does require us to make difficult trade-off decisions.

We will have to continue to ensure that sufficient land is safeguarded island-wide, and find ways to make good use of our limited land in order to meet future demand for uses such as housing, industry and infrastructure.

Bukit Brown is needed in the future for housing, as it is centrally located and is close to established residential areas. There is provision for a future MRT station along the Circle Line to serve the area.

We thank the writer for his feedback.

ST Forum

Jun 17, 2011


Walking the tight rope of progress

THE flurry of letters following the Urban Redevelopment Authority's decision to redevelop Bukit Brown Cemetery reflects the multitude of views regarding our heritage and the conundrum of conservation versus construction in land-scarce Singapore.

While it is true that our old buildings and structures are archives of the nation's history and their wanton destruction is sacrilegious, conservation without due regard to costs and well-considered precedents is equally untenable.

Bukit Brown Cemetery is indeed an oasis of calm amid the sprawling suburbia, serving not only as the final resting place of our ancestors including several luminaries, but also as a nature reserve where people can have a reprieve from the stress of the concrete jungle.

Yet, it is little different from the Fort Canning, Forbidden Hill, St Joseph's Church, Ulu Pandan, Bidadari and other cemeteries that were closed and subsequently redeveloped.

Historians may lament their passing as our memories of them evanesce; but beneficiaries of their replacements have concrete evidence to celebrate.

Should Bukit Brown Cemetery be conserved, much enhancement needs to be done. As it stands, it is overgrown and neglected, infrequently visited, of interest to only a few, and lacking in universal appeal.

Tasteful preservation through a memorial, together with beneficial advancement for the living, seems the balanced way to progress.

Dr Yik Keng Yeong

ST Forum
Jun 17, 2011

Get perspective right

'We must face the fact that we live in a small island and every inch of land is required for the living.'

MR KEVIN LEONG: 'I disagree with the letters in support of the conservation of Bukit Brown Cemetery.

We must face the fact that we live in a small island and every inch of land is required for the living.

Conserving a few pieces of broken tombstones of immigrants who came earlier than us but were neither national heroes nor great philanthropists is unjustifiable in our context. If we were to conserve Bukit Brown, what about Bidadari and other cemeteries? We have done a far better job of conserving history than many other countries in the region. We should have our perspective right.'

ST Forum

Jun 15, 2011

Redeveloping Bukit Brown fine but conserve slice of social landscape

I READ with profound disappointment the Urban Redevelopment Authority's response ('Bukit Brown cemetery: Tough decision in face of housing needs, says URA'; last Saturday) to Assistant Professor Irving Chan Johnson's letter ('Don't shut a window to history'; June 6).

I am a young Singaporean who has witnessed the infrastructural developments of Singapore - which in no small part is due to the good work of the URA. But along the way, we seem to have lost the human touch and the spirit of our people.

The destruction of an important piece of Singapore's social landscape would hinder rather than build upon a nascent national identity and a sense of belonging and community. The nation-building efforts of Singapore should encompass our history and heritage.

Bukit Brown has a special place in the hearts and consciousness of many Singaporeans. It represents a link to the past for both individuals and the community.

I am not against redevelopment but the redevelopment of Bukit Brown does not necessarily have to involve the clearing away of the graves. Any future plans for the place should include the conservation and redevelopment of the existing cemetery.

Bernard Chen

ST Forum

Jun 15, 2011

Beware of cultural Alzheimer's

I DISAGREE with Mr Paul Chan ("Bukit Brown: Progress comes first"; Monday) that cemeteries should be redeveloped to meet housing needs.

While this issue may be personal to me as it involves my great-grandfather's (C.K. Lim) final resting place, it is my strong belief that the decision to exhume Bukit Brown cemetery for future development projects will bring only short-term economic benefits.

In the long run, it will deprive future generations of their historical, cultural and familial heritage. Without history, we will be ignorant citizens as we will have nothing to benchmark our progress upon.

Despite the potential economic benefits from redeveloping Bukit Brown cemetery, this move will remove another aspect of our collective memory, which is what makes Singapore feel like "home" for Singaporeans.

The rapid rate of change in the country, reflected by the exhumation of other cemeteries and demolition of historical buildings such as the National Library, has caused many Singaporeans to feel that they lack "roots" because the ground on which these historical roots try to grow has been turned over due to constant urban renewal.

Without these historical places, Singaporeans will suffer from cultural Alzheimer's because we will not know who we are and how to relate to other people.

Sharon Lim (Miss)

Today Voices, Jun 15, 2011

Why destroy natural habitat when other land available?

Letter from Ronald Chan
I REFER to the debate over the conservation of Bukit Brown. Let us not take into account the heritage value of Bukit Brown in this discussion. After all, we have bulldozed other national monuments like the old National Library despite their sentimental value.

There is also no operational value in "Bukit" Brown, which reportedly stands at only 1m above sea level.
Neither is it exactly in the Central Catchment Area, being excluded from it by Lornie Road.

The question is, why destroy this green area at the heart of our island when it is not the only place in Singapore left to develop? It is, after all, a pristine, untouched ground since it has been used as a cemetery.

As former Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan noted, the next two areas to be developed are Simpang and Tengah. These two areas have been trampled by National Servicemen and their value as a nature reserve is no longer high.

A huge plot of land also remains available in Punggol West. It is a sparsely populated private housing area and not an untouched natural habitat either.

So as we can see, there is no shortage of land in Singapore for housing. These three plots of land can easily sustain a substantial number of residents, and using these plots would not really compromise Singapore's natural habitats since they have already been interfered with.

Already we are not far off from the projected 6.5 million population. Do we really need that many more flats? Besides, we can make up the numbers with the Selective En-Bloc Redevelopment Scheme in selected estates.

Why touch a prime natural habitat when there is no urgent need to do so? I urge the authorities to reconsider their plans to develop Bukit Brown. After all, readers have remarked that we need these green lungs in the heart of our island to prevent the flood waters from rising. It remains to be seen, pending further research by the floods panel, whether this is indeed the case.

ST Forum

Jun 15, 2011

Why it's not wise to redevelop Bukit Brown

IN HIS letter on Monday ("Bukit Brown: Progress comes first"), Mr Paul Chan cited instances in the past when the Government redeveloped cemeteries along Orchard Road and Bishan. Those were done during different times in Singapore's history when physical and social growth was of utmost importance.

Today, surely as the country matures and grows, our mindsets should change. The redevelopment of Bukit Brown Cemetery will not only close another window to our heritage, it will also change the whole ecosystem of the area.

I live near Bukit Brown Cemetery. I am no bird lover, but the variety of birds that live here is truly amazing.
The road where I live is on much lower ground than that at Dunearn Road, which is about 700m away. Not once have the houses along my street been flooded during heavy downpour in the 18 years I have lived here.

This is because my street leads directly to Bukit Brown Cemetery, where the rain water is readily absorbed by the rich undergrowth. I shudder to think of what will happen if redevelopment really does happen.

The preservation of the heritage and ecosystem of this cemetery is of more importance than redevelopment and "progress". Why create artificial green lungs when there is already one so rich on its own? Not everything can be measured in dollars and cents.

Ho Kwai Yuen (Madam)

ST Forum

Jun 13, 2011

Bukit Brown: Spare a thought for the alternative

THE fate of Bukit Brown cemetery echoes that of the old National Library. Upon the latter's removal, then National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: 'I hope... the new National Library will one day evoke similar memories for the younger Singaporeans.'

Six years on, however, the new library has not achieved the same level of public resonance as the old one. What is often overlooked is the fact that it is impossible to have the same affinity for new glass-and-steel buildings as one has for older constructions. Once destroyed, that quality can never be replicated or replaced.

In the new economy, old fragments are not just good for memories' sake, but help a city's competitive advantage by bolstering the sense of diversity, contradiction and creativity - all valuable assets now.

We need to see our history not as a hindrance or trade-off to progress, but a resource for it. Cities such as London and Paris are great precisely because they layer their history and keep so much of their old fabric intact.

Paradoxically, the inability to 'layer' is a typical Singaporean trait; the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Housing Board adopt a rather narrow definition of history, favouring more 'glorious' colonial-style buildings and shophouses while removing the less 'presentable' parts. For example, with the exception of Tiong Bahru, hardly a trace can be seen of earlier Housing Board estates or reminders of our nation-building past.

The scarcity of land is always cited as a reason against conservation. Singapore's land area is 712.4 sq km with a population density of 7,126 people per sq km. By contrast, Manhattan's land area is just 59.5 sq km with a density of 27,485 people per sq km. Potentially, 11 Manhattans can fit into one Singapore, with leftovers. This leads us to the question of the old library tunnel and Bukit Brown. Does it absolutely have to be that plot of land? It seems to be more an issue of values and priorities rather than necessity.

If there is no significant change in our value system and conservation policy, Singapore would be heading towards a homogenised future, with each generation preserving less and less of what is distinct. I urge the URA and Housing Board to spare a thought for the alternative.

Liu Zhenghao

ST Forum

Jun 13, 2011

It's about what we hold dear

THE current debate over the fate of Bukit Brown cemetery reminds me of an earlier one over the old National Library building.

Many impassioned pleas were made to preserve the building, but the Government insisted it was necessary to replace it with an underground road tunnel that seems, to me at least, to be under-utilised.

Ultimately, it is not just a matter of what we need but also what we want and what we hold dear. In Rome and many other Italian cities, the streets are extremely narrow because the people hold dear their millennia-old buildings. They could well have argued for a need to demolish these buildings to improve traffic flow, but they chose instead to live with the inconvenience.

More than a need to clear Bukit Brown for housing, we need to evaluate our needs and priorities as well as the possible options. For a start, we need to reconsider if we really need or want a projected population of 6.5 million people.

And if housing needs are that pressing, will Bukit Brown be converted into a Housing Board estate for the masses? Or will it, being in the prime district, be set aside for a small number of first-class bungalows for the rich?

Are there really no other options when, all over Singapore, there are pockets of old and under-utilised buildings?

Richard Seah

ST Forum

Jun 13, 2011

Bukit Brown: Progress comes first

I DISAGREE with Ms Erika Lim ('Protect what's left of cultural value'; last Saturday) that Bukit Brown cemetery deserves to be preserved. Cemeteries have to give way if our housing needs are to be met.

If the Government did not redevelop cemeteries along Orchard Road, we would not have buildings such as the Ngee Ann City shopping mall.

My grandparents were buried at Peck San Theng - now the Bishan housing estate. I used to enjoy clearing tall grass to find their tombstones during Qing Ming, and remember my elders burning joss sticks and incense papers.

The hills are gone, but we can still reminisce by looking at old photographs.

In land-scarce Singapore, social progress must prevail over conserving burial grounds. Life goes on. When one window to history is closed, we open a new one for future generations.

Paul Chan

ST Forum

Jun 11, 2011


Tough decision in face of housing needs, says URA

IN HIS letter on Monday ('Don't shut a window to history'), Assistant Professor Irving Chan Johnson shared his views on the importance of ordinary places in Singapore's history and their role in forging a sense of national consciousness.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) shares Prof Johnson's sentiments, and has been consciously conserving both built and natural heritage in our planning for Singapore.

For instance, just across the road from Bukit Brown is our Central Catchment, a large protected tropical nature reserve which has a special place in the hearts of many nature lovers.

Elsewhere, we have also been actively conserving buildings, structures and streetscapes that are familiar and endearing to Singaporeans.

Planning for the long-term in land-scarce Singapore does require us to make difficult trade-off decisions.

While we cater for conservation, we also need to balance it against other needs in the community, such as housing for people. Bukit Brown is needed in the future for housing.

Ler Seng Ann

Group Director (Conservation & Development Services)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

ST Forum

Jun 11, 2011

Protect what's left of cultural value

I AM deeply saddened to learn the fate of Bukit Brown cemetery ('Bukit Brown to make way for housing'; May 30) and would like to hope it would be preserved instead.

The place has never failed to inspire us with its natural beauty and sense of history. The weathered tombstones, with a few dating as far back as the mid-18th century, are some of the most enduring historical monuments that Singapore has. The names and faces engraved on the stones tell stories about men and women across more than a century of Singapore's history.

In recent years, we have seen the rapid construction of new parks, gardens, museums and heritage centres in an attempt to beautify and energise the city. The Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore ArtScience Museum are two recent additions to this national project.

At the same time though, our country needs to safeguard the things of beauty and history that it already has. No picture or artefact resting in a museum can offer an experience comparable to that of Bukit Brown.

We understand how land-scarce Singapore is and why many places, despite their environmental and historical significance, have been cleared. It is because we have lost much of our natural environment and cultural memories that we should try to protect what is left at Bukit Brown.

Once lost, it is lost forever.

Erika Lim (Ms)

Today Voices, Jun 8, 2011

Green lungs to quell floods

Building boom is part of the problem; more sustainable development model is needed

Letter from Liew Kai Khiun

IT SEEMS certain that the islandwide floods are getting more routine as last year's images of submerged roads, water-choked basement car parks and ankle-deep waters in malls returned to haunt us on Sunday morning.

In spite of the extensive drainage work undertaken over the decades, the authorities have conceded that no amount of preparation can stop such freak floods that are attributed predominantly to global warming and "acts of nature".

Nonetheless, I would also like to draw a correlation between the floods and the high growth rates of the past few years, rapid urbanisation resulting from the property boom and the spike in population. Hence, the problems are not only global and natural but also local and man-made.
Studies in the environmental sciences have indicated that building and transportation infrastructural projects are instrumental in displacing organically permeable soil and vegetation with impermeable concrete surfaces that have less capacity to store rainwater.

In the case of Orchard Road, the floods seem to coincide with the replacement of an open and relatively well-vegetated green space between Orchard Road and Paterson Road with the megamall Orchard ION that has probably the deepest basements in Singapore.

Along Bukit Timah Road, which is seeing the more severe floods, are the new condominiums complexes that are squeezed tightly into the previously quieter and spacious neighbourhood of bungalows with spread-out lawns and gardens.

Added to this, the current paradigm to tackling the problem seems to be largely technical, involving drainage systems and building codes. However, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated recently, given the space constraints of Singapore, there is a limit to how wide and deep we can dig our canals.

In this respect, instead of seeing the problem as natural and the solution as pouring more concrete, there is a fundamental need for a more environmentally and socially sustainable development model. We have to see open spaces and natural vegetation not as potential exploitable land for property and industrial development but as green lungs and buffers with more intangible long-term benefits.
Increasingly too, trends in large-scale flood control worldwide are moving away from artificial canalisation and containment towards that of natural flood control management that entails the preservation of natural environments and natural water flows.

In Singapore, one such projects on the way to completion is the Waters@Kallang-Bishan Park project that involves the partial de-canalisation and the re-riverisation of water flows. Perhaps the Government should also start thinking of similar projects for Bukit Timah and Orchard roads with green lungs and corridor; and rethink development plans for existing green spaces like the current forested Bukit Brown Cemetery along Adam Road, as well as the lush stretch along the railway tracks from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands.

 ST Forum Letter

Jun 6, 2011
Don't shut a window to history

I READ with dismay that the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has gazetted Bukit Brown Cemetery as a site for development ('Bukit Brown to make way for housing'; last Monday).

I urge the URA to take a moment to consider the importance of 'ordinary' places, such as cemeteries, in Singapore's history and their role in forging a sense of national consciousness.

Bukit Brown cemetery is probably one of Singapore's oldest remaining Chinese burial grounds. The sprawling cemetery is dotted with the tombs of Singapore's early immigrants. By clearing it, the URA is inadvertently erasing an important component of the nation's identity.

Cemeteries reveal to us the myriad dreams our ancestors had in forging associations with Singapore and its community. Cemeteries make history come alive as they are about the lives of real people. They force us to think of the past as not just a story of the elite and administrators but of the ordinary men and women who helped shape Singapore.

Singapore's version of preserved history seems to focus largely on the memories of colonialism and the struggle for independence. Places such as Bukit Brown - there are not many left - are a window to a different reading of national history.

Perhaps the URA could take a leaf out of the book of cities such as Boston and New Orleans in the United States on how they manage their history through a celebration of heritage cemeteries.

Historical cemeteries in both cities are gazetted as national landmarks and tourist attractions and are an integral part of heritage trails.

Bukit Brown's wide expanse of lush greenery and variety of flora and fauna make it a wonderful spot for jogging and nature walks. There is a lot that can be done to ensure that one of Singapore's historical gems is given the credit it deserves.

The silent cemetery is not only a vessel for the memories of those who have come before us but of the living. It is a powerful marker of Singapore's past - no different or any less significant than the grand monuments that have become icons of the nation.

Assistant Professor Irving Chan Johnson

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