Update of news and articles on Bukit Brown

May 2016

BBC Outlook

Pharmacist and Outlook Inspirations nominee Raymond Goh had always had an interest in Chinese culture and customs, and in 2006 he and his brother Charles began visiting the largely forgotten Bukit Brown Chinese Cemetery at the centre of Singapore. It’s the biggest Chinese cemetery in south East Asia. Raymond spends his weekends trying to unpick the secrets of Singapore's past through the hidden tombstones. He gave reporter Nicholas Walton a tour round the site.
Image courtesy of Raymond Goh. Raymond is on the left.



ST Letters
May 8, 2016

The fact that an Anzac Day ceremony was held last month at the Kranji War Memorial to remember the Australian and New Zealand troops who died here during World War II only sharpens the irony of the planned exhumation of the tomb memorial in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery of local patriots killed during the war ("Stories set in stone"; April 17).

It is a rather unique Singaporean trait that our physical size is often used as an excuse to emasculate our own history on the altar of untrammelled progress.

Should greater efforts not be made instead to preserve the few historical vestiges we have left, given our short history and scarcity of land?

While there have been attempts lately to tap the Singaporean obsession with food to celebrate our heritage, there is the feeling that these are merely token efforts.

More tangible endeavours are needed, such as those initiated by tomb researcher Raymond Goh, to keep the memories of our pioneer generation alive.

His tireless work to uncover the records of those buried in Bukit Brown - including pioneers who not only founded clan associations, schools, banks and hospitals, but also lent their names to many streets in Singapore - has inspired others to follow in his footsteps.

There are also new heritage trails, award-nominated plays, and books such as World War II@Bukit Brown and Tigers In The Park: The Wartime Heritage Of Adam Park.

These endeavours are veritable proof that history is living and need not be confined to dusty archives.

Our moniker, the Little Red Dot, reminds me of a record button and the onus to preserve and keep our history alive and, more importantly, educate ourselves, especially the younger generation, on where we came from and the roots of our collective identity and national soul.

Leow Aik Jiang

《世界一周》 本地坟场幕后故事



ST News May 3, 2016 

They will be relocated near original location after six-month refurbishment, likely in June

By Melody Zaccheus

Visitors to the Bukit Brown Cemetery will soon be greeted once more by its iconic cast-iron gates.
Removed from their Lorong Halwa posts last year to make way for a major road, the structure now lies in a workshop but will go up in a new access road near its original location, likely next month.
At the workshop in the north of Singapore, workers have been gingerly brushing away the layers of rust that have accumulated in the grooves of the cast-iron gates.

The brittle gates are undergoing a six-month refurbishment, and will go up in a new access road near their original location in Bukit Brown, likely next month. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Supported by wooden frames, the brittle gates are undergoing a six-month refurbishment by a team from Fusion Clad Precision - a contractor hired by the National Heritage Board (NHB).
The refurbishment, which started in January, has five core steps. Rust is first removed before coatings are applied to reduce future corrosion.

The gates' lock and latch components as well as lampholders are then repaired before missing parts are replaced. The last step is to reinforce the gates' structural integrity.
The team, comprising four master craftsmen and three other members, is at step two of the process.
Its managing director Teo Khiam Gee said the gates need a lot of attention as well as "the human touch".

"Skilful hands are important as the parts are in varying states of disrepair. Its original state was very fragile. It is like handling a baby," he said.
The structure is made up of parts, such as a pair of cast-iron gates through which cars used to pass, two side gates for pedestrians, and four free-standing square columns.
It was likely prefabricated in Britain and shipped to Singapore. Its square columns were cast on the spot.

Bukit Brown Cemetery opened its doors in 1922.

About 20 per cent of the structure will be replaced to address the damage to its structural integrity and functionality.
NHB told The Straits Times that the gates will likely be relocated next month to the mouth of a new access road near its original location.
NHB's assistant chief executive of policy and community, Mr Alvin Tan, said retaining and refurbishing the gates are important as they "provide a sense of arrival to the cemetery and preserve a sense of continuity for visitors and interest groups".
The refurbishment is an initiative of a multi-agency work group chaired by the Ministry of National Development. It includes NHB, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), and civic organisations All Things Bukit Brown and the Singapore Heritage Society (SHS).
The effort is guided by conservation best practices shared by SHS. The heritage board also has its own in-house metals specialist, Mr Ian Tan, manager of the heritage research and assessment division.
When ready, the gates will be painted black - a common colour for outdoor use.
Mr Tan said its original colour is hard to determine. Exposed layers of paint show that it had changed colours - which included a shade of blue - a few times over its history.
Mr Tan said the structure is one of the rare large-scale ornamental iron gates in Singapore. "It shows how technology flowed across countries. It is also likely that its ornamental parts were done here in Singapore. Each coil and twist are different and clearly done by hand," he said.
Some parts of Bukit Brown have been razed as the LTA constructs a major eight-lane road through the cemetery to connect the MacRitchie Viaduct to the Adam Flyover. This project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
NHB launched its documentary on the relocation of the gates on its heritage portal Roots.sg yesterday. 

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