“Bukit Brown Cemetery […] was a public Chinese cemetery that had been established in the early 20th Century. It was the biggest Chinese graveyard outside China. It is located between Lornie Road and Mount Pleasant Road, and off Sime Road and Kheam Hock Road, and is still in existence today, despite being abandoned.” – Wikipedia
On Sunday, as part of a Meet-up group event, I had the opportunity to take a volunteer guided tour of Hills 1, 2 & 5 of Bt Brown cemetery. Despite the rain (and finding out that my ‘waterproof’ bag & jacket are not 100% waterproof – jacket wasn’t too bad, the bag was a total soak thru’) and the annoying mosquitoes (I counted 14 bites this morning while applying anti-itch cream), it was a morning well spent! The volunteer guides, Fabian & Clarie, are knowledgeable and shared with us many interesting stories about the graves as well as the folks who lay there.
I have always been attracted to cemeteries as I find most peaceful & tranquil. And there are the “art” of the graves and grave markers. Bt Brown didn’t disappoint. There were many intricate designs carved into headstones and the altars that have survived the elementals for decades, ranging from lions, deities, angels (yep, there are Christian Chinese buried there too) and even scenes from the Three Kingdoms.
As mentioned on a.t.Bukit Brown (all things Bukit Brown), “Many founders of local schools, as well as renowned alumni, are buried at Bukit Brown Cemetery.” Bt Brown is a heritage site, one with significant links to the past… links that will be broken when the government exhumes over 3,000 graves to build a 4-lane highway (to ease the congestion of Lornie Road) that will slice through the cemetery. If that isn’t bad enough, the area has been earmarked for public housing in the future.
To think the government is always talking about the importance of preserving our culture, our heritage. Action speaks louder than words, dear Ministers! Hypocritical much?
Granted that the exhumed tombs can be documented, and the headstones probably moved to a museum… but it isn’t the same! Not to mention, there is already very little natural ‘green areas’ in Singapore – we need this as a carbon sink. Plus don’t forget the wildlife there will be endangered – and I’m not talking about those pesky mosquitoes (those can go extinct for all I care)… Bukit Brown is home to “86 bird species, 12 of which are already critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.” [source]
In view of such, some have organized an online petition: SOS Bukit Brown. Though I have doubts that the petition would change anything (really, since when does the SG government listen to the citizens?), trying beats not doing anything. Read more about it here.
Regardless of anything, I’d love to visit Bt Brown at least once more again, before the destruction begins.