Making way for the future is nice but...

ST Forum

Oct 26, 2011

Making way for the future is nice but...

I LIVE in Canada now, but my thoughts are often on Singapore. The remains of my ancestors Tan Kim Ching, who was the son of Tan Tock Seng (and who donated a large portion of the funds to complete the Tan Tock Seng Hospital, after the death of Tan Tock Seng, who made the original contribution), and Tan Boo Liat, (grandson of Tan Kim Ching) are buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery.

The remains of the parents and grandparents of another ancestor, Dr Lim Boon Keng, my great-grandfather, are also buried there. My siblings and other family members continue to discover graves of other relatives whose inscriptions fill in previously unknown elements of our family tree.

If I, merely one person, can find such significance in Bukit Brown, consider how many others in Singapore and overseas would also recognise ancestors, famous or otherwise, buried there.

More than offering mere sentimentality, these graves are a monument to these illustrious pioneers of Singapore, and offer a rich repository of data for scholarly research into Singapore's history.

Looking to the future is nice, but if we don't reflect on from whence we came, it makes our onward trajectory considerably less well-framed.

Roads are insatiable. Within a few years' time it will be realised that this little fix was inadequate to make the road system work well, and another road will have to be built somewhere else.

Meanwhile, part of Singapore's heritage and an invaluable source of genealogical and historical data for scholars will be lost forever. Don't do it.

Lim Su Chong

Alberta, Canada