Update of news and articles on Bukit Brown

July 2012

Asia One
Jul 13, 2012

Relatives claim about 1,000 Bukit Brown graves

1,005 graves in Bukit Brown have been claimed by relatives in the last four months, reported The Straits Times today.


This works out to be about a quarter of the 3,746 graves that will be exhumed to make way for an expressway.

Relatives will have until Dec 31 this year to claim the graves.

Between March, when the government announced that it would proceed with the plans for the highway, and the start of this month, 178 of those who have claimed the graves have opted for a private exhumation, reported the paper. So far, 93 of these have already been exhumed.

Most will be exhumed by a contractor hired by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), to be paid for by the government.

Dr Hui Yew-Foong, an anthropologist at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, told ST that only about half of the graves are expected to be claimed, because of the cemetery's age of about 90 years.

Unclaimed remains will be cremated, with the ashes to be kept by the Government for three years, after which, the ashes will be scattered at sea.

ellenja@sph.com.sg

Entering the Tomb 入墓三分



Preface

Ever since the government announced development plans and construction of a 8 lane highway through Bukit Brown (Kopi Sua) in mid 2011, it has become a focal point for a young nation developing rapidly and conservation efforts aim to preserve a part of history.

 The debate has awakened many a citizens' consciousness of their roots, heritage and culture, and members of the public, civic groups and students all have come forward, to savour the last remaining historic cemetery, the largest of its kind outside China, before scheduled redevelopment takes place.

 As a municipal government burial ground, its size of 173 acres (total 392 acres if including surrounding cemeteries) is the burial place of the pioneers and builders of a nation. Although established in 1922, its has many graves dating
 to the Qing dynasty era, when other areas in Singapore were cleared for development and re-interned into this government cemetery.

 Each of the 100,000 tombs in Bukit Brown tells a story, and reflect various transition phases of an island over a period of nearly 200 years, and also reflect an unique Nanyang cultural, religious and heritage blend of straits born Peranakan and
 Chinese immigrants, encompassing a much greater history from a small little red dot than that thought possible.

 Despite this rich cultural heritage, little is written and much is yet unknown about Bukit Brown to the public, and in fact, no book has ever been published specifically about Bukit Brown.

 So I am pleasantly surprised that two Ngee Ann Polytechnic students 杨旸 and 吴悦神 from the Department of Chinese Studies have taken a big step forward to take into themselves to publish their research and experience in Bukit Brown into a book available for the public.

 As a breed of new immigrants coming from China, these young students ventured into the difficult hilly terrains of Bukit Brown cemetery, documenting interesting tombs and interviewing those people closely interwined with the fate of Bukit Brown, like the tombkeepers, descendants and tomb researchers. Coming from motherland China whereby most of the Bukit Brown residents originated from, armed with their good Chinese cultural background, they are able to share their experiences in Bukit Brown from an unique and interesting perspective, and give greater depth and their own analysis to the rich material culture of this cemetery.

 I hope that by reading this book, the readers would have a broader and deeper understanding of this cemetery,
 and why there is a call by civic groups for the government to reconsider their development plan. Just like 杨旸 and 吴悦神 have discovered for themselves, there are pleasant cultural and historical mysteries and surprises for those who take step into this cemetery.

 Those who have come and see for themselves can really understand the deeper layers extending beyond merely a tomb structure. For those who still have yet to step into Bukit Brown, this book serve as a first introduction to a rich cultural, heritage and natural site that may give way in future to an urban concrete jungle in land scarce Singapore.

 Raymond Goh
 5 Jul 2012

入墓三分 is written by Wu Xue Shen and Yang Yang and published by Ngee Ann Polytechnic - School of Humanities and Social Science 

Zaobao News,
Jul 02, 2012

   
两名来自中国的学生吴悦神(左)与杨旸,研究新加坡早期富商王三龙墓碑旁的雕刻以及其包含的意义。(苏俊勇摄) 


  苏俊勇 报道

  jysoh@sph.com.sg

  武吉布朗坟场的历史你知多少?对墓碑上的文字和雕刻,你又理解多少?

  义安理工学院中文系学生杨旸和吴悦神为毕业专题作业,出版一本关于武吉布朗坟场的书,从年轻人的视角认识这座历史悠久的坟场。

  论文集子取名《入墓三分》,除了介绍武吉布朗坟场、解读墓碑文字以及墓碑雕刻包含的意义,也记载他们这三个月来在坟场的所见所闻。

  据他们的分析,不同籍贯的人建造的墓碑有不一样的风格:福建人建造的墓碑上有较多雕刻,而潮州人建造的墓碑倾向于“欧米茄”(Omega)形状。

  两人是在得知武吉布朗坟场的一些坟墓即将被挖掘后,发现它有丰富的华族文化义涵,因此开始与指导老师讨论考察武吉布朗坟场的事项。之后,两人便开始数月的“坟场文化之旅”。

  吴悦神受访说:“当我们得知武吉布朗坟场即将拆除时,我们便打算以实际行动保存这些古墓的最后一刻,而那便是以文字和图片记载这些历史遗迹。”

  比较新中两地墓碑

  两名学生都来自中国,在新加坡已待了10年,因此他们也尝试把武吉布朗坟场内的墓碑与中国的墓碑做比较。在中国,墓碑旁不能有神兽,只有皇室才有这种权利,但新加坡的坟墓有神兽守护着墓碑。此外,武吉布朗坟场的墓碑也有很明显的南洋风格。

  《入墓三分》从撰写、排版,到出版种种事项都由他们亲力亲为。杨旸说,通过这项专题作业,他除了学会如何辨别和解读墓碑上的雕刻及文字,也学会如何进行宣传。

  武吉布朗坟场的地势高低不平,因此行走不方便,杨旸说:“如果下起雨来,路面更加溜滑,考察的过程就会比较危险。”

  义安工院中文系系主任兼高级讲师郑君心受访时说,这项计划的目的主要是弘扬华族和南洋文化,让年轻人能多了解他们的根源,同时让中文系同学将他们所学应用在实际的企划。

  《入墓三分》将于本月29日上午10时30分于中央公共图书馆举行新书发布会。除了推介新书,作者也将邀请“坟场达人”介绍武吉布朗坟场。

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