Update of news and articles on Bukit Brown

2014



Resurgent Spirits of Civil Society Activism: Rediscovering the Bukit Brown Cemetery in Singapore
pp. 21-45 | 10.1353/ras.2014.0016                                                                                                           

 

Abstract:

The proposed building of a major highway and expected extensive housing projects in the forgotten Chinese cemetery at Bukit Brown of Singapore in 2011 ignited unprecedented national and international attention. Opened in 1922 by the British colonial authorities and eventually embedded with over 100,000 graves of the Chinese diaspora within a site rich in biodiversity, it is now touted as one of the largest Chinese cemeteries outside of China and a possible candidate for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This paper is not intended as a major theoretical framing of larger issues; instead, the focus is on chronicling the important resurgence of civil society activism in the process of rediscovery and tracing the challenges posed to the disciplinary political authorities of Singapore. Previous studies about contestation over Chinese burial grounds in Singapore are centred on Western versus Chinese practices and on parochial sub-communal interest versus modernist developmental regimes, without bringing heritage concerns directly into the microphysics of power. This new narrative on Bukit Brown will unveil the extent to which heritage, history and identity suddenly surged to the forefront of citizenry consciousness and interrogated the fundamentals of governance and national developmental agenda.

Download Link 

Zaobao News Dec 28, 2014


吴安全(左)与吴安龙两兄弟多年来默默寻找与发掘本地的古墓,并带动本地寻墓热。
摄影⊙叶振忠

吴安全
51岁,寻墓人

2014年成绩
★寻获凤山寺创建人梁壬癸古墓。
★发现建国总理李光耀外家先人四古墓。

吴安龙
46岁,寻墓人
2014年成绩
★发现四排埔旧精神病院围墙。

不是祭祖,送殡一般人都不会到坟场去。采访当天要求德士司机载记者到武吉布朗(Bukit Brown)坟场去,司机就不很乐意,记者只好在离坟场约200米的路口下车。吴安全和吴安龙就毫不避忌,他们一次又一次带队到坟场寻根问祖,让一个个深藏在老林的古坟重见天日,还历史的本来面目。

自2011年9月武吉布朗因为要让位给新道路,约5000多个坟墓必须迁移的消息公布后,每个月的两个周末,还有公共假期,总有一群来自各界,学有专长,自称布朗人(Brownies)的热心人士轮流义务导览。他们身穿印有“Bukit Brown Heritage”的白色T恤,倚仗挥汗热情解说,尽自己所能让公众多认识武吉布朗的历史。吴安全和吴安龙兄弟是这群人当中两个熟悉的身影,他们也是这群布朗人的领头羊。

武吉布朗探秘先行者

吴安龙是一名建筑安全经理,自小好奇心重,对一些不明白的事物总是很感兴趣,一定要想方设法查个水落石出。在他成长岁月中曾经的一些事物,不是已被人淡忘,就是已消失得无影踪。他努力发掘的目的,是希望重拾已被遗忘的共同记忆。因为这一信念,2003年沙斯后,他响应新加坡旅游局振兴旅游业的号召,跟哥哥吴安全一样注册为义务导游,带旅客到坟场去,让旅客以独特的方式认识新加坡。

吴安全则是一名药剂师,兄弟俩还共同创办了亚洲超自然侦探协会(Asia Paranomal Investigators),为落实他们追根究底的理想跨出第一步,开始研究武吉布朗坟场的墓碑,还绘制了一份地图,让公众下载来个“坟场自助游”。他们也从2006年起在武吉布朗导览,成了带团到武吉布朗探秘的先行者。

吴安全说:“武吉布朗加上毗邻的姓黄山和新恒山亭,共有20万个坟墓,所发现的坟墓最早的可追溯到1826年的清道光六年。从那年起到上世纪70年代封山为止近150年的时代变迁,政治演变,价值观的改变,都可从这些古墓上找到历史的印记,我们的历史就是这样一点一滴拼凑起来的!”

今年的两大发现

吴安全和吴安龙以及布朗人的努力,掀起了一股寻找祖先墓地的热潮。由于年代久远,所提供的资料不全,过去八年要求寻墓者不少,但成功率只有一半,不过一些先驱人物坟墓的重新发现,却大大地鼓舞着吴氏兄弟,单是今年最引人注目的就有两处:即凤山寺创建人梁壬癸的古墓和建国总理李光耀外家先人的四座古墓。

根据档案,凤山寺创建人梁壬癸的迁葬墓在武吉布朗坟场。去年,吴安全开始研究道光年间的古墓时,就被一个刻着“梁振荣”的古墓所吸引,开始与本地文史工作者林志强、洪毅瀚等布朗人一起对一组相关古墓展开田野调查。经过一番考证,今年5月公开确定“梁振荣”其实是梁壬癸的谥号。他的妻子余文娘(谥勤慎)、儿子梁瓒福(谥敦睦)、儿媳徐音娘(讳育娘)的迁葬墓也同葬一处。凤山寺是国家古迹,古墓的发现对研究本地最早南安凤坡人移民史具有重要的参考价值。

此外,早报今年6月一则《寻找人力车夫高长古》的新闻,令吴安全联想起建国总理李光耀在回忆录中提到的外公蔡金鼎和外婆梁亚顺。根据打理墓园的苏亚明所提供的线索,吴安全和林志强终于在深山中找到了李光耀的曾外祖父蔡应昌、外祖父蔡金鼎和蔡金鼎第二任妻子萧玉銮的墓。后来又通过下葬记录册找到李光耀外婆,即蔡金鼎的第三任妻子梁亚顺的墓。蔡家是典型的土生华人家庭,蔡金鼎是成功的富商。这批古墓的发现成了研究蔡金鼎家族的重要史料。

除了寻墓,吴安龙还对历史遗址感兴趣。不久前,他与国家文物局总司长(政策)陈子宇发现了一面在新加坡中央医院内有百多年历史的精神病院围墙,那是了解本地心理卫生服务史珍贵的资料。

寻墓最大的困难不是忍受蚊虫叮咬、提防蛇兽出没、杂草阻路,而是根据有限的线索进行发掘。

吴安龙说:“以武吉布朗坟场来说,都有记录册记录埋葬者的资料。问题是很多人不是很清楚先人何时过世,一些后代只知道先人的中文名,记录册则只记英文名,有些还是用手写的。资料越少,寻墓的难度就越大。” 难怪吴安全说,一座古墓的发现,往往是多个学有专长者共同努力的成果,绝不是一两个人的力量所能成就的。

2015年计划

 ★寻墓是吴安全和吴安龙的兴趣,也是义务工作,他们还会继续寻找,因为他们相信1826年以前就已有华人长眠于此。

------------------------------------------------------------------

2014 Personality of the Year by Zaobao weekly, Dec 28, 2014

Raymond Goh (51) and Charles Goh (46)

Looking at history through the departed

If not for praying to one’s ancestors, one would not usually go to the cemetery. That day the reporter asked a taxi driver to drive her to Bukit Brown cemetery. The driver was not very happy, and so she has to alight at approx. 200 metres from the cemetery at the road cross junction. But the Goh brothers does not have any sort of taboo. They keep on bringing people to the cemetery to look for their roots, rediscovering old tombs hidden in the depths of the forest, bringing history back to life.

Ever since Sep 2011 when news broke out that part of Bukit Brown has to give way to a road and approx 5000 tombs has to be exhumed, nearly twice a month during weekends and public holidays, one would see volunteer guides from all walks of life known as “Brownies” wearing Bukit Brown heritage T shirts, and guiding the public on the history and heritage of Bukit Brown.

Raymond and Charles Goh are a familiar pair among the Brownies and the pioneering guides among them.

Bukit Brown Pioneering Explorers

Charles Goh is a construction safety manager and has from young like to explore the unknown to get to the root of matters. Some things will be forgotten or disappear as one grow up, and Charles hope to revive the forgotten collective memories. Since the SARS crisis of 2003, Charles responded to the call of STB and together with his brother registered as tourist guides. They do voluntary guiding for visitors to the cemetery, and let these visitors know Singapore in an unique way.

Together with Raymond Goh, a pharmacist, they founded Asia Paranormal Investigators, as a step forward to fulfil their ambition to research all things unknown. Since 2006 they also started to lead tours to Bukit Brown, do research into tombs and even design a cemetery map for the public to do DIY tours on their own.

Raymond said that Bukit Brown and the surrounding Seh Ong and Hokkien cemeteries has a total of 200,000 tombs, with the earliest dating all the way to 1826. From that year to the closure of the cemeteries in the early 1970s, one can see 150 years of changes and transformations reflected through the tombstones of Bukit Brown. Our history is gathered piece by piece from the collective stories of all these tombstones.

2014 Great Finds

Through the efforts of Charles, Raymond and the Brownies, there has been a surge in interest to find one's ancestor. Due to the passage of time and insufficient information, the success rate of finding one's ancestor for these tombs is only about 50%, but the rediscoveries of pioneers’ tombs provide much encouragement to the Goh Brothers. This year alone, the two great finds are the founder of Hong San See temple Neo Jin Quee and the family cluster tombs of Lee Kuan Yew maternal ancestors.

According to the archives, Hong San See founder Neo Jin Quee was relocated to Bukit Brown cemetery. When Raymond Goh first encountered this tomb, he combined forces with local history researchers Walter Lim and Ang Yik Han to research into this tomb and finally confirmed the identity of this tomb. The discovery of Neo Jin Quee’s tomb and the tombs of his wife, son and daughter-in-law provide important clues to the study of the immigrant stories of early Lam Ann people to Singapore.

Apart from this, in Jun this year, a news report to find the rickshaw puller Koh Teong Koo made Raymond recalled about Lee Kuan Yew maternal grandfather Chua Kim Teng and maternal grandmother Leong Ah Soon. Based on the clue provided by tombkeeper Soh Ah Beng, Raymond and Walter Lim finally found the tombs of Chua Kim Teng, his second wife and his father’ tombs. They later managed to find Leong Ah Soon’s tomb from the burial register, that is Chua Kim Teng’s third wife. The Chuas were a typical Peranakan family, and Chua Kim Teng was a successful merchant. These finds provide important historical information for the study of this early Chua pioneer family.

Apart from graves, Charles Goh is also interested into heritage sites and ruins. Not long ago, together with NHB Group Director (Policy) Alvin Tan, they rediscovered a century old lunatic asylum wall, which provide valuable information for the study of this early institution.

The greatest difficulty in finding graves is not mosquitos and insects bites, nor wild snakes or animals, nor wild vegetation, but the limited information and resources to find the graves.

Although there are burial records in Bukit Brown, many descendants does not know the dates their ancestors passed away, and some can only remember their ancestors’ Chinese names, while the records are in English. The lesser the information, the more difficult will be the tomb find.
 As such, Raymond said that sometimes it require more than the efforts of one or two persons, but the combined efforts and expertise of many volunteers to help find a tomb.

As for 2015, the Goh brothers will keep on their volunteer work of researching and finding tombs, and their mission is to find an earlier tomb than 1826 as there were already Chinese people then who died before that.

By Mok Mei Ngan
 Photo by Yap Chin Tiong - Raymond and Charles Goh has been researching and rediscovering old tombs in Singapore and sparked local grave interest

Zaobao News Dec 28, 2014


他们未必都是镁光灯下的知名人物,但却在各自的领域发光发热。由早报副刊各专线记者选出的年度人物2014一共有六位,他们是寻墓人吴安全、新加坡国际艺术节艺术总监王景生、纪实摄影师沈绮颖、名厨Julien Royer、演员李铭顺、歌手林俊杰。除了奖项,他们的努力及影响,是上榜的重要指标。




西方有句谚语“魔鬼在细节中”(The devil is in the details),意指细节决定成败。今年由《早报·现在》选出的六位“年度人物”,就善于凭借细腻心思和敏锐观察力,揪出细节中的魔鬼;在顾全大局的同时,也将各方面照顾得滴水不漏,就连最微小的细节也绝不放过。

这六位“年度人物”都是各自专业领域中的闪耀人物。他们未必都是镁光灯下的知名公众人物,有的只是“平民英雄”,但都在各自的领域里发挥影响力。从小细节,看到他们对工作的付出,也感受到他们对社会的关爱。

他们是:两个“非考古学家”、名不见经传的兄弟,这些年来发起寻访古墓还原历史的活动;

艺术家王景生把艺术节改头换面,扛起舆论压力;来自法国的年轻厨师,让世界看见新加坡;女记者拿起相机为中国老百姓纪实;以及做好本分,交出亮眼成绩的影视艺人。

“年度人物”是经由早报副刊各专线记者和编辑,按照副刊所涵盖的范畴讨论与筛选出来的,因此并不包括新闻、政治与财经等其他领域。除了奖项,他们的努力及影响,更是上榜的重要指标,期望能为后来者起抛砖引玉的作用。

●还原历史本来的面目在高速发展的钢骨水泥城市里,吴安全和吴安龙两兄弟选择回到最初的起点,挖掘岛国历史。他们在寻墓过程中,仔细发掘出许多被人淡忘的历史足迹。他们一次又一次带队到坟场寻根问祖,让一个个深藏在老林的古坟重见天日,还原历史本来的面目。

●给艺术节新的风景去年停办一年的新加坡国际艺术节,在新上任的艺术总监王景生的带领下改头换面,脱离了原有风格与模式,接触到更广大的观众群。由王景生精挑细选的12部国际作品风格迥异,时而充满话题性,也在坊间引起热烈讨论。

●让世界看到新加坡精致餐饮瑞士史丹福酒店70楼JAAN主厨罗耶(Julien Royer)对手工食材的热忱及用心,让他在今年餐饮界的国际盛事中扫下多个奖项,为JAAN争取不俗的排名。在他之前可能外地人看本地餐饮,只会想到来自台湾的名厨江振诚(Andre Chiang),现在,罗耶再次让外地人看见新加坡。

●用镜头关切草根生活原为《海峡时报》驻北京特派员的沈绮颖,在2011年放弃记者之职,投入纪实摄影工作,用镜头热切关注中国草根阶层的生活。沈绮颖也在今年7月成为首位、也是唯一加入国际著名的“七图片社”的亚裔摄影师,并在今年10月获颁Her World杂志的本年度“青年女性成就奖”(Young Woman Achiever)。

●为本地演艺界镀金影艺方面,李铭顺今年凭《亲爱的,我已经爱上别人了》,成为第一个夺得台湾电视金钟奖视帝的非台湾演员。他的得奖,意味着台湾的三金——电影金马、音乐金曲和电视金钟奖——三个不同娱乐领域的最高指标奖项,都有本地艺人沾上边,反映这里不缺人才。林俊杰今年则是本地乐坛霸主。他今年首次封王,获得台湾金曲奖最佳国语男歌手。此外,他也拿下今年新加坡词曲版权协会最佳歌手、最佳本地歌曲创作人。该奖项就歌手演唱过的歌曲的版税总收入为准绳,最高税收者得奖。这也是他连续6年获得最佳本地歌手奖,并连续4年获得最佳本地歌曲创作人奖。

年度人物2014 吴安全

http://www.zaobao.com.sg/media/video/story20141228-428660


Zaobao News Dec 27, 2014

武吉布朗深处的文坛未解之谜诗人冯蕉衣碑文出自郁达夫手笔?

谢燕燕
chiayy@sph.com.sg

曾翻阅各种有关冯蕉衣史料的文史爱好者林志强认为,墓碑上的题字应该是出自郁达夫之手,冯蕉衣哥哥的后人也以为墓碑是郁达夫所写的。但是,有些人在比对郁达夫和墓碑上的字迹后,又觉得两种字体相去甚远,碑文应该不是郁达夫所题。
金马奖最佳导演许鞍华执导的影片《黄金时代》,把世人的目光重新聚焦在中国东北女作家萧红身上。在那个文学创作的“黄金时代”,本地也曾出现一位际遇与萧红有些相似的年轻诗人冯蕉衣。

冯蕉衣这位潮州诗人才华横溢,曾用过拉因、砂金等笔名,在上海出版过《衡窝集》;24岁南来后继续耕耘,在新马诗坛占有一席之位。但他一生历尽沧桑、穷困潦倒,最后英年早逝。

他在1940年的双十节,因病突然谢世时才27岁,当时为他举殡入殓的是赫赫有名的文人郁达夫。冯蕉衣位于武吉布朗密林中的墓,2012年中被寻墓人吴安全发现后,却引来一个有趣的问题;墓碑上的题字,究竟是不是出自郁达夫之笔?
曾翻阅各种有关冯蕉衣史料的文史爱好者林志强认为,墓碑上的题字应该是出自郁达夫之手,冯蕉衣哥哥的后人也以为墓碑是郁达夫所写的。但是吴安全曾问过好些人,大家在比对郁达夫和墓碑上的字迹后,又觉得两种字体相去甚远,碑文应该不是郁达夫所题。
曾经赋诗悼念冯蕉衣的本地文坛宿将刘思,1986年接受《联合早报》记者吴启基访问时却让上述疑团变得更加扑朔迷离。刘思在《颓废是伪装的——诗人刘思忆郁达夫在新加坡》一文中说,郁达夫与“吼社”同人如冯蕉衣关系密切,冯死时,由“吼社”一群朋友组成的治丧委员会要求郁达夫为早逝的诗人题写墓碑,他当时满口答应。但是郁达夫接下这项工作后却迟迟未见交件。

刘思记得自己当时在牛车水南天酒楼对面一家商行工作,有一天郁达夫和报馆同事到珍珠巴刹用餐,看到他在商行内便冲了进去,连招呼也不打就说:“我最近太忙了,蕉衣的字还没写。”刘思当时笑着回答:“希望你能尽快写好,到时我到你处去拿。”
根据吴启基的那篇报道,刘思当时肯定冯蕉衣墓碑上的字出自郁达夫之手,但他却把墓的地点记成是碧山亭。林志强是基于刘思的上述谈话,认定冯蕉衣墓碑上的字出自郁达夫之手。他还揣测郁达夫不是书法家,字体有时会不稳定。
新加坡文艺协会永久名誉会长骆明记得六七年前,郁达夫的孙子郁峻峰曾带着富阳和杭州电视台的摄制队到新加坡,并通过他的安排找了刘思和方修等人来谈郁达夫在新加坡的事迹。骆明记得刘思当时曾提及郁达夫答应为冯蕉衣墓碑题字一事,还提到他曾亲自到《星洲日报》找郁达夫,要跟他拿已答应写的字,但最终是否拿到就不得而知了。骆明说,郁达夫的后人正在筹划出版《郁达夫在新加坡文集》,并准备在中国和新加坡同时举行发布会。
虽然文献记录说墓碑是由郁达夫所题,但是本报咨询过好些人,包括本地一些著名书法家,大家在比对郁达夫所题的《纪念诗人冯蕉衣特辑》和墓碑上的字体时,都认为两者相去甚远,不大可能出自同一人手笔。除了笔触不同,郁达夫的字率真不拘,碑上的书体拘谨守法。

从冯蕉衣1940年底逝世到郁达夫于1942年2月4日与胡愈之、王任叔因日军攻陷新加坡而匆匆逃离新加坡,间中只有一年多时间,郁达夫会否因工作太忙,加上时局不稳,没来得及履行承诺便逃难而去?这是个耐人寻味的悬案。
记者最近随吴安全和林志强穿越武吉布朗密林,寻访冯蕉衣的墓时,只见墓碑上写着生卒年,除此之外便是一行“诗人冯蕉衣之墓”。
吴安全说,他是在2012年某一天,在密林中躲雨时被墓碑上的题字所吸引。在武吉布朗墓群中,以诗人自居的坟墓非常少见。据他所知,除了冯蕉衣,便是曾经担任中华总商会秘书的康研秋。葬在那里的诗人则有邱菽园和陈延谦。
巧的是,在那之后不久,冯蕉衣的侄孙女突然电邮吴安全,想知道叔公的墓是否受造路工程影响。吴安全与她联络时,她表示冯蕉衣的墓一直由她父亲冯笃骏照料,但父亲已在两年前去世。

本报通过这位侄孙女找到冯蕉衣侄女冯剑萍(73岁)。冯剑萍的父亲冯海泉是冯蕉衣的同父异母哥哥。冯蕉衣去世后不久才出世的冯剑萍,对叔叔的事迹非常感兴趣。她曾听长辈说过叔叔在病重时,他的女友郭坤成曾扶着他找她父亲,但是他们家当时生活十分清苦,父母和两名哥哥挤在租来的小房间里,根本就没有能力照顾叔叔,最后是由叔叔的朋友合力出钱,为他租个床铺栖身养病。



吴安全(左)和林志强摄于武吉布朗诗人冯蕉衣的墓前。(熊俊华摄)


Zaobao News, Dec 23, 2014

庆德会183年老传统 新修祠堂内延续
...
已有183年历史的庆德会,在让出需要大笔资金维修的庆德楼后,目前已在樟宜罗弄104的新会所安顿下来。庆德会成员前天还在新修祠堂内,延续100多年来的古老传统,举行隆重的冬至祭祖活动。

现任会长钟合源告诉本报,他们搬离庆德楼后,便开始思考要在哪里设土生华人很重视的“祖厝”,以安顿祖先禄位,最后决定把庆德会的上述产业改装为祠堂。内部装修富有峇峇味庆德会的新会所,外观和周边住宅没两样,但里面却装修得很有土生华人特色,从神龛、供桌到地砖等,都具有浓浓的峇峇味。进门便看到一块“受禄于天”的牌匾,内堂正中间是36名创会者的禄位,禄位前的供桌摆满祭品,有甘蔗、香蕉、烧鸡、烧鸭、烧肉、螃蟹和各式糕粿饼,还有酒、饭和茶等,摆设非常讲究。
钟合源说,新会所的装修工作还在进行中,估计明年6月能竣工,到时将举行开幕仪式。1831年由36名来自马六甲的峇峇商人共同创立的庆德会,基本上是商人间的互助组织。庆德会创始人中,包括陈笃生的哥哥陈有郎、凤山寺创建者梁壬癸的哥哥梁瓒元、本地和马六甲富商徐炎泉的父亲徐钦元,以及本地富商谢安祥的父亲谢宝荣等。当中好些人与天福宫或崇文阁有关系,例如梁瓒元曾任天福宫总理,也是承建崇文阁的建筑商;洪俊成曾是崇文阁副总理等。

根据林孝胜所撰写的《庆德会:华商互助会的组织与运作》一文,庆德会很多创始人来自马六甲。这些商人在拓荒时期到新加坡投资经商,难免要冒风险,可是他们有家庭、有负担,为了在生意失败时无后顾之忧,家属生活有保障,他们成立互助会。创建庆德会的36名成员,共有20个姓氏,主要来自福建漳泉地区。他们效仿桃园三结义方式,在三官大帝前宣誓为兄弟,一旦某个家庭陷入困境,就会发生活津贴,给予援助。经过183年的漫长岁月,
庆德会目前剩下31个会员,当中18人住在新加坡,剩余13人住在马六甲。钟合源说,会员的传承方式是由父亲传给长子,如果长子不合适,则传给其他儿子;如果没有子嗣,则传给兄弟或兄弟的后人;有些会员的后人因改变信仰,选择退出庆德会。星期天的冬至祭祖轮到陈孟宗的后人陈君成负责。他解释说,庆德会每年会从会员中选出炉主、头家和二头家。炉主负责上元节,即农历正月十四的所有祭祀品,头家负责清明和中元节的祭祀活动,二头家则负责下元节和冬至的祭祀活动。

庆德会前天在位于樟宜罗弄104的新修宗祠举行隆重的冬至祭祖活动。陈君成(左)是这次祭祀活动的“头家”,祭祀的供品非常讲究丰富。(谢燕燕)

The Straits Times
Nov 5, 2014

Three more aged tombs found at Outram

THREE more aged tombstones have been uncovered in Outram - mere weeks after a 150-year-old grave was found there, back in September.

Grave hunter Charles Goh stumbled upon the three relics last month in a wooded area, just metres away from his earlier find.

But the four graves are set to make way for an open-air carpark for Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and other health-care facilities in the vicinity.
Excavators have already swept in to clear trees and level the hilly terrain, which is about the size of two football fields.

The Ministry of Health (MOH), which owns the land, said the new carpark - bounded by MacAlister Road and SGH's multi-storey carpark H - will "better provide for the needs of patients and visitors to SGH and the other health-care facilities in the area".

The Straits Times understands that the new carpark will have approximately 620 spaces, and could be ready by July next year.

Nurse Brenda Lee, 56, said it might help address parking woes in the area. She said: "It can get very busy during peak hours. Some carparks here provide valet services because the wait can get very long."

Still, Mr Goh, 46, hopes the authorities will leave the tombstones intact as they are remnants of the now-defunct 1859 Tiong Bahru Cemetery and serve as valuable historical markers.
The construction safety manager said: "They have remained untouched, standing in a single row, over the past century.

"They should be left as they are, as a reminder of how the area has evolved over time."
He called for the ministry to give more time for the graves to be studied: "We need historians, researchers and relevant clan associations such as the Hokkien Huay Kuan to do a thorough documentation of the tombs before they are exhumed."

When contacted, an MOH spokesman said work around the tombstones has stopped. The ministry has also notified the National Heritage Board (NHB) and the National Environment Agency (NEA), which oversees public exhumation works.

NHB said research work on the tombstones has started.

The MOH spokesman added that it "will work with NEA and NHB on the appropriate management of the graves, including putting up a notice in the public domain to alert next-of-kin who wish to claim the remains".

The SGH area is home to institutions such as the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, the Singapore National Eye Centre and the Health Sciences Authority. By 2020, the Outram Community Hospital will also be there.

Preliminary research by Mr Goh and his brother Raymond, 50, a pharmacist, shows the hilltop graveyard where the tombs rest belonged to the Seh Chua Clan. According to an 1884 land deed, it was owned by Chua Bian Kay, an early trustee of the Hokkien temple Thian Hock Keng.
The four tombstones bear the names Madam Ho Koon Neo (1860s), Madam Ee Leong Neo (1872), Mr Chua Chi Siok (1876) and Mr Chua Soon Chin (1878).

Other Tiong Bahru Cemetery graves were exhumed and relocated to Greater Bukit Brown after the 1920s to make way for SGH and housing projects.
melodyz@sph.com.sg


Work around the aged tombstones uncovered in Outram has stopped, a Ministry of Health spokesman said. The ministry has also notified the National Heritage Board (NHB) and the National Environment Agency, which oversees public exhumation works. NHB said research work on the tombstones has started.

-- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The Straits Times Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
Melody Zaccheus
 
Contray to popular belief, tomb hunters Charles and Raymond Goh, who discovered a 150-year-old grave in the heart of Outram last month, rely on cold, hard facts and not the supernatural to lead them to their next find.
 
Tomb hunters Raymond Goh (left) and Charles Goh, at Bukit Brown Cemetery.
 
 
Likening themselves to fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, the co-founders of Asia Paranormal Investigators (API) spend their weekends poring over old records and trekking through forgotten forests and graveyards.
 
The specialised heritage hunters may not have come face to face with a ghost but they have found hundreds of graves, including those of pioneers Seah Eu Chin and Chia Ann Siang.
 
Said Mr Raymond Goh, 50: "We set out to break taboos and show Singaporeans that cemeteries are wonderful repositories of historical data. The multi-ethnic make-up of some of our old graveyards testifies to how Singapore was at the crossroads of the East and can reshape how we interpret our history."
 
Singapore Heritage Society president Chua Ai Lin said the Gohs have become authorities on old tombstones.
"They are driven by their passion and have spent years slowly accumulating wide-ranging knowledge, sometimes with no specific goal in mind, resulting in surprising discoveries and finds.
"We need to acknowledge their skills and recognise them as serious researchers," she added.
 
The brothers said they work well together. The strong suit of younger brother Charles is map work. He digs up land records detailing past and present occupants of an area. By comparing old and new maps, the 46-year-old construction safety manager is able to narrow down search areas.
 
Older brother Raymond, a pharmacist and Hwa Chong alumnus well-versed in Chinese culture, then writes a report of the tomb inscriptions, lineage and significance of each grave.
 
They have found the graves of lesser-known Singaporeans, whose stories are no less important, they said. These include rickshaw puller Low Nong Nong, whose 1938 grave was found in Bukit Brown Cemetery last year.
Low had been on strike with other rickshaw pullers seeking better wages and died in a confrontation with police. The tombstone noted that fellow coolies pooled money to bury the penniless Low, who had no kin here.
 
The brothers credit their late taxi driver father and 73-year-old mother, a former kway chap hawker, for instilling a love for reading, learning and research in them and their three other siblings.
 
Mr Charles Goh said he spent his younger years reading voraciously, borrowing books from the old National Library in Stamford Road. "Our noses were always buried in books. At the dinner table, our mother would tell us to put our books away," said the younger Mr Goh, whose wife, 44, works in retail.
 
After buying his first computer in 2001, he dived into local urban legends online.
 
"There was so much misinformation... I wanted to be the alternative voice in the midst of all the rumours," he said.
This led him to set up API with his older brother in 2005. Both conducted tours at supposedly haunted houses and graveyards. They would relate findings from their interviews with witnesses and use coroner's reports to debunk myths of hauntings.
 
These trips, including tours to Bukit Brown, sparked a desire to find out more about Singapore's ancient relics.
The brothers have since helped about a hundred Singaporeans locate their ancestors' graves, at no cost. They said it is meaningful to see families connecting with their relatives despite the decades.
 
Mr Raymond Goh's wife, Angeline, 40, a housewife, sometimes jokes that he spends more time with the dead than the living. But, like their children aged 14, 19 and 20, she said she is proud of him.
 
The brothers hope the likes of the National Library Board and National Archives of Singapore will recognise them as serious researchers and open their archives and resources to them for free.
 
They are also calling for more support from clan associations, educational institutions and the National Heritage Board for their research work at Bukit Brown. The older Mr Goh said: "We are on the threshold of discovering even more heritage gems in our backyard and we need back-up."
 
RICH HERITAGE
 
We set out to break taboos and show Singaporeans that cemeteries are wonderful repositories of historical data. The multi-ethnic make-up of some of our old graveyards testifies to how Singapore was at the crossroads of the East and can reshape how we interpret our history. - Mr Raymond Goh
 

THE STRAITS TIMES  Oct 16, 2014
by Melody Zaccheus
















Raymond  50  (white) and Charles Goh 46 discovered the last Tiong Bahru tombstone near Singapore General Hospital.

A forgotten tombstone in the heart of Outram has been found, on the heels of the rediscovery of an abandoned reservoir on Keppel Hill last month.

Wrapped snugly by creeping tree roots in a forested area, the 150-year-old tombstone was discovered last month by intrepid grave hunter Charles Goh, 46.


He made his latest find last month while bashing through the forest hunting for remnants from old cemeteries in the Tiong Bahru area.

"I often walk by the forested area, but I had no idea that it housed an ancient treasure and relic from Singapore's first few Hokkien cemeteries," he said.

The construction safety manager had also stumbled across the lost reservoir near Mount Faber back in 2005, without knowing it, while he was tomb-hunting.

The lone grave in Outram has stood the test of time even as modern Singapore grew around it, staying untouched in its original spot since the 1860s. It is sandwiched between the defunct 1828 Tiong Lama and 1859 Tiong Bahru cemeteries.

Mr Goh hopes the tomb, which belongs to Madam Ho Koon Neo, will be included in heritage tours of Tiong Bahru estate.

Both cemeteries were exhumed after the 1920s to make way for the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and later housing projects.

Most of these exhumed graves now rest in Greater Bukit Brown, which Mr Goh and his brother Raymond, 50, a pharmacist, have been researching and documenting.

The brothers, who also co-founded Asia Paranormal Investigators, realised some relocated tombs and urns in Greater Bukit Brown had been haphazardly rehoused, leading them to believe that some reburials were done in a hurry.

Mr Goh said: "We then wondered if some graves had been left behind from the Tiong Lama and Tiong Bahru cemeteries."

After consulting maps, he narrowed his search down to a forested parcel of land about the size of two football fields. Bounded by College Road, Jalan Bukit Merah and MacAlister Road, the forest is part of the SGH compound.

According to an 1884 land deed, the hilltop graveyard where Madam Ho's tomb rests was owned by a Chua Bian Kay.

The 1m-high tombstone states that Madam Ho, who married into the Chua family, was from Zhong Shan in Fujian, China. Her exact date of death is not listed, although her grave states that she died during the 1862-1875 reign of Chinese emperor Tongzhi.

The tomb also lists her children - son Gim Guan, daughters Huat Neo and Eng Neo, and grandson Choon Swee.

The Goh brothers, who have hunted down hundreds of graves including those of pioneers Seah Eu Chin and Chia Ann Siang, are appealing for Madam Ho's descendants to come forward.

They hope the National Heritage Board (NHB) clan associations and other volunteers can help do more research on the country's pioneers.

An NHB spokesman said the board looks forward to doing research on the grave with the brothers to "shed more light on the discovery".

Meanwhile, Mr Kelvin Ang, the chairman of Seng Poh Residents' Committee in Tiong Bahru, said residents who conduct heritage tours and talks on the conservation estate might consider including the tomb as part of their talks.

He added that the find proves "history is all around us". "Mr Goh's discovery adds to the historical knowledge of the area and, hopefully, as we go on, more stories can be built upon such finds."

melodyz@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on October 15, 2014. 

The Last Chapter - Bukit Brown, A Ch 8 documentary. A relook at some of the tombs before exhumation, including that of Khoo Seok Wan and Tan Boon Hak. 

武吉布朗坟场,俗称咖啡山,已经有180年的历史了。2012年,陆路交通管理局宣布­了一项挖坟建路的计划,三千多个坟墓受到波及,其中就包括了陈嘉庚堂兄--陈文学之坟­。《最后一页》回溯墓主陈文学生前的点滴,记录了他安息91年的老坟墓,如何度过在咖­啡山的最后一夜,并捕捉了墓主后人为老墓搬迁的全程记录。

 The last chapter - Bukit Brown


曾外孙赴韩探亲获线索展开寻墓之旅 名
商尘封86载古墓重现
王舒杨
2014年09月22日



名商叶玉桑已知资料十分有限,可考史料仅有十余篇英文报报章,以及《南洋名人集传》和《南洋英属海峡殖民地志略》的两篇数百字生平介绍。从这些资料中足以看出,1928年逝世的叶玉桑曾是本地名商巨贾,与陈嘉庚等人曾共事,而且积极支持辛亥革命。

shuyang@sph.com.sg

一场深入丛林的找寻,一篇博客文章,一次韩国探亲之旅……本地同盟会成员、新加坡开埠早期的黄梨、树胶商人叶玉桑的后人,在热衷发掘武吉布朗坟场历史宝藏的“布朗人”帮助下,得知祖先在新恒山亭的大型坟墓,并展开一段发现之旅。
 
有关叶玉桑的已知资料十分有限,可考史料仅有十余篇英文报报章,以及《南洋名人集传》和《南洋英属海峡殖民地志略》的两篇数百字生平介绍。
不过,从这些资料中足以看出,1928年逝世的叶玉桑曾是本地名商,与陈嘉庚等人共事,而且积极支持辛亥革命。

本地知名寻墓人吴安全和林志强指出,武吉布朗坟场至今已发现葬有40多个同盟会或共和党成员,为研究新加坡与辛亥革命相关历史提供宝贵资料。

2012年3月,吴安全和林志强根据守墓人提供的线索,在位于武吉布朗的新恒山亭重新发现早已被荒草掩盖的叶玉桑坟墓。

不久后,另一“布朗人”白友源通过《海峡时报》等英文报章1913年至1959年间的十余篇报道、广告及讣告整理出叶玉桑相关事件,发表在博客“Rojak Librarian”(罗惹图书管理员)上。

然而,博文在接下来的一年半中并没有进入叶玉桑后人的视线。直到去年10月,叶玉桑的曾外孙陈丁伟(57岁,土木工程业)去韩国探望随夫旅居首尔的姨妈,姨妈不经意间谈起叶玉桑,勾起陈丁伟的好奇。

利用网络搜索
寻找先人蛛丝马迹
陈丁伟利用网络搜索尝试寻找先人的蛛丝马迹,白友源的博文这时才映入眼帘。

本月14日早上,十余名叶玉桑后人和四名“布朗人”一同前往叶玉桑坟墓。经过一个多月的清理,这块长约40英尺,宽约26英尺的墓地重现大理石地面,文图雕刻也在历经近90年后重见天日。

除了叶玉桑和来新后的第一任妻子陈水娘的合墓,数米开外还立有另两室妻子陈星娘和杨锦意的两块小型墓碑。

据《南洋名人集传》记载:“叶玉桑,字雪亭,福建同安南门外溪边乡人。九岁随师修学,至十四岁,已能肆笔成文……志在振辔长驱,乘风破浪,以与国外人争市利而,遂于弱冠之年,南至石叻坡。”

来新不久后,叶玉桑加入陈嘉庚的黄梨罐头公司“日新”,后来自立门户建立“大山”和“大川”两家黄梨厂。他转向橡胶业后,跻身“名商巨贾”,积极参与社会活动,将辛亥革命视为“天经地义”之事,不但本身慷慨解囊,也积极号召华侨筹款,还因此被殖民地政府叫去问话。

叶玉桑也是南洋中学校(即华侨中学前身)的倡办人之一,同时也是宣讲孙中山革命思想的星洲书报社、同德书报社的最早发起人之一。

虽然叶玉桑墓碑上并没有生卒年份,但据英文报上的讣告,他于1928年卒于心脏病。

陈丁伟是叶玉桑长子叶金铨的外孙。他告诉记者,直到发现那篇博文,他才知道“我的曾外祖父如此出众。不仅涉及商业,而且为社会做出贡献。”

周美玲(41岁,律师)是叶玉桑的玄外孙女,她的祖母叶平娘(88岁)是叶玉桑二儿子叶坤和的女儿。
叶平娘是叶玉桑后人中最年长者。由于腿脚不利,她没能到墓前祭拜。和她同住的周美玲希望能通过老人家的口述历史来丰富叶家后人的记忆,目前已着手整理族谱。

周美玲很感谢“布朗人”,也希望叶玉桑的事迹能通过武吉布朗历史走道的平台,为更多人所熟知,共同了解新加坡的历史。

她说:“直到发现那篇博文时,我们都不知道有祖先埋葬在这里。这对我们来说是很重要的发现,因为叶玉桑是我们家在新加坡扎根的第一代,我们的故事就是从那里开始。”

本地最精美古墓之一
坟墓有四石柱与守卫石像
叶玉桑坟墓的一大特点是坟墓外围竖立着四个石柱,形成一个大门,坟墓两侧还各有两根高约四米的石柱,相信是为了支撑一片锌板顶篷,覆盖坟墓前庭。

林志强指出,这是迄今为止首次发现这种构造的坟墓。
四个门柱上原本还有老鹰和长明灯的雕塑,很有气派。坟墓的两名持枪锡克守卫石像,也彰显了坟墓主人当时的财力和地位。


由于年代久远,除了一个石柱上仍留有老鹰雕塑,其余雕塑已经掉落。叶玉桑后人表示,有意对破损雕像进行修葺。两根支撑篷盖的石柱还依然矗立,另两根只剩下地面基座的印迹。
此外,坟墓多处细节也体现了在本地坟墓难得一见的工匠技艺,包括镂空石雕和中西方两种样式的石狮。

热衷研究石雕和中国史的“布朗人”池凌志说,叶玉桑的坟墓是本地最为精美的古墓之一,当年打造它的费用估计相当于一名苦力五六年的薪水。

爱好研究文物象征意义的董豪光和池凌志还介绍了坟墓上刻有的八骏图和八仙图,以及尧舜帝让贤故事的图案。

除了雕塑和图案,坟墓的文字方面也颇有讲究。吴安全介绍说,坟墓两侧“辛金生丽水,乙未养青山”对联的“辛”和“乙”二字刚好应对了坟墓的方位。

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.
Javascript DisablePlease Enable Javascript To See All Widget