BUKIT BROWN CEMETERY: CLARIFICATION ON COLLABORATION BETWEEN SHS AND URA/LTA (20 October 2011)
The collaboration between the Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) and the authorities up till now has consisted only of connecting LTA and URA with individual experts on Chinese cemetery documentation and the history of the cemetery.
SHS was not consulted during the decision-making process leading up to the plans for the new road through Bukit Brown. SHS was merely informed of these plans, at which point SHS agreed to assist in documentation work, which is the very least that can be done. Thorough documentation is an important exercise even if there was no threat of redevelopment of Bukit Brown.
According to the LTA press release on 12 Sep 2011, documentation is to be completed by the end of March 2012 before the next phase where families will be contacted to arrange for exhumation. Given the large number of graves and the impossibly short timeframe, completing basic data recording itself will be a challenge. It remains to be seen if enough qualified volunteers can be recruited to complete the documentation work during this short time frame. Thorough historical surveys will require much more time.
At this point, it is imperative that the pace of redevelopment works be slowed down so that greater public consultation can be conducted with a much wider range of stakeholders, including the Nature Society Singapore, the descendants of people buried there (many of whom are members of the Peranakan Association) and the Singapore Polo Club who use Bukit Brown as a space for exercising their horses. Currently, it is unclear exactly which stakeholders and NGOs have been contacted by LTA/URA, but public voices, in letters to the press and on the Bukit Brown Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/bukitbrown/ indicate that there are many others who would like to have their views heard. More time is also needed for historical research.
Much new information about Bukit Brown has only been discovered in the last one month, with Mr Raymond Goh leading members of the public and state agencies around the cemetery. Increasingly more graves of significant individuals, as well as the histories of their contribution and lives are slowly coming to light. Earlier decisions need to be reconsidered in the light of new information.
SHS is co-organising a public forum on Bukit Brown, together with Dr Irving Chan Johnson of NUS Southeast Asian Studies Dept to be held on 19 November. We are also liaising with other groups and individuals who wish to play a greater role in public consultation with the authorities, and seeking expert views on how conservation and development of the Bukit Brown area can be balanced.
Those who wish to convey their views to the authorities should write to:
1. Minister of State for National Development, BG Tan Chuan-Jin, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Chief Executive, LTA, Mr Chew Hock Yong, email@example.com
3. Chief Executive Officer, URA, Mr Ng Lang, firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact descendants, you will find many posting their stories on the Facebook group:
For detailed information on graves and their histories and Bukit Brown tours, contact Raymond and Charles Goh — the experts on Bukit Brown who have been leading regular tours to raise awareness and helping families to locate their ancestors’ graves:
For more information about Bukit Brown history:
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