For Pesta Ubin 2017, the Singapore Heritage Society conducted a a special tour curated by Dr Vivienne Wee, our expert anthropologist, to the island’s little-seen heritage sites – including kampung houses, an old cemetery and a mangrove swamp. At each stop, villagers shared with us recollections from their past, their stories of their present, and their hopes for the future.
Check out the microsite for our Bukit Brown Wayfinder, launched on 18 Nov 2017
The Wayfinder is a self-guided trail along 25 tombs in Blocks 1 and 3 of the Bukit Brown Cemetery. Uncover the history and heritage buried in one of Singapore’s largest and last-remaining cemeteries.
More on Bukit Brown can be found here
This collection of stories, essays and poems looks at the impact of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore in the Second World War (1942-1945) from the perspective of those interred at Bukit Brown Cemetery. The highlights of the book are stories shared by descendants from family oral archives and albums of their ancestors, some of whom survived and others who perished, during the darkest chapters of Singapore’s history.
Bukit Brown remains the largest cemetery in Singapore for the war dead in situ, and buried with them are many untold stories of bravery, resilience, tragedy, survival and, amid the darkness, hope. The book offers new material and insights into the human tragedy of war as an act of commemoration, thereby adding another layer to the already vast literature available on WWII in Singapore.
“The stories have taken us to the Endau Settlement in Johor, to Taiping (Malaysia) and to the battlefields of Europe in ways so unexpected they took our breath away,” said Claire Leow and Catherine Lim, the co-editors of the book. “It is a slow and at times painful unraveling of family history, lost in memory but for the persistence of descendants. It has taken seven decades for some of these fragments to be pulled together, and we see this not as a one-off book but a first step in the difficult journey of “re-discovery” and “re-membering”. The narratives also re-affirm to us Singapore’s place in regional and global historical narratives. We hope it serves as a curtain raiser to 2017, the 75 Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore.”
The stories are nested around essays— which provide context and background—written by the community of volunteers, who have come to be known as brownies under the banner of All Things Bukit Brown. They are neither historians nor academics but the editorial team conduct regular guided walks on site, which in themselves are learning journeys as they expand on their body of knowledge from engaging with descendants and a myriad web of networks including academics and historians.
“Bukit Brown has unexpectedly turned out to be a touchstone about the loss of heritage— tangible and intangible— in a Singapore eager to modernise and develop,” Chua Ai Lin, President of Singapore Heritage Society. “The book is an important evolution of the civil society movement to uphold Bukit Brown as a site of national significance, and illuminate one of its more fragile narrative threads. It brings together at once the strategic and personal importance of the site.”
About the Editors
Claire Leow, works in corporate communications with a background in journalism, both local and international. Claire was instrumental in co-curating with Jon Cooper—a war archaeologist who has been based in Singapore since 2011—“The Battlefield at Bukit Brown” guided walk, which has become a monthly staple in WW II history in Singapore. She has contributed chapters on the Railway Corridor and Bukit Brown in “Public Spaces in Urban Asia” (February 2014). Her CV includes more than two decades in journalism as correspondent and editor, principally at Business Times and Bloomberg news bureau chief for Bloomberg in Jakarta, and managing editor of the flagship Global-is-Asian magazine at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy where she edited a 12-chapter book as Associate Director of Research Dissemination.
Catherine Lim works freelance in broadcast media and the flexibility of her job allowed her to kickstart the blog with the first posts and function as the main editor. She co-ordinates requests for learning journeys for guided walks in Bukit Brown. In 2012, she produced, and was co-researcher and co-writer of an 8 part documentary series on Bukit Brown called “History from the Hills”. She is the co-ordinator for All Things Bukit Brown in a working committee representing civil society in discussions with the Ministry of National Development on curating artefacts from exhumed tombs within the grounds of Bukit Brown.
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Dimension: 166mm x 240mm
Extent: 212 pages
Published by Ethos Books and Singapore Heritage Society
Download our tour handbook for a brief introduction to the Tua Pek Kong Temple Festival held in conjunction with Pesta Ubin
In conjunction with Pesta Ubin, the Singapore Heritage Society has produced this information guide to help visitors understand the Tua Pek Kong temple & festival on Pulau Ubin, which is organised annually by the Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple. This guide was first produced in 2016, and updated in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Download the PDF: Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Temple & Festival Guide 2019
Facebook Event Page:
Seen primarily as final resting places, cemeteries are increasingly under threat from urban redevelopment in land-scarce Singapore. Regarded as ‘excess space’ by state planners, and as ‘taboo places’ by the local populace, the rich historical and cultural heritage of our cemeteries have remained largely unappreciated and hidden. Today, there are about less than a dozen cemeteries left in Singapore. With the recent exhumation of major cemeteries like Bidadari Cemetery and Kong How Shua Cemetery, concerns have been raised about the status of cemeteries in Singapore.
Spaces of the Dead: A Case from the Living brings together various authors concerned with the need for conservation of cemeteries in Singapore. This book showcases cemeteries as spaces of historical, architectural and social merit through the writings and photo-journals of the authors. We hope it will serve as an initial step in generating greater interest in and awareness of Singapore’s cemeteries.
by Loh Kah Seng & Liew Kai Khiun (eds.)
In exploring the past, researchers labour in the present: to locate the archival document which is located somewhere behind a gate with its keeper; or to find that elusive participant who will throw light on a gap in our knowledge, and convince them to speak. The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History meditates on this relationship between past and present in a developmental city-state. The articles discusse how researchers seek to gain entry to archives and memories, in endeavours which crucially shape the imagination of Singapore as a nation and the identity of its people as citizens.
Gedung Kuning or the Yellow Mansion was home to the family of Haji Yusoff ‘Tali Pinggang’ from 1912 to 1999. It was acquired by the Singapore government in August 1999 under the Land Acquisition Act. What used to house six families is now preserved as a historic building under the Malay Heritage Centre.
Hidayah Amin, one of Haji Yusoff’s great-granddaughters, revisits her childhood home and takes readers beyond the gate guarded by stone eagles, through rooms with big mirrors and marble floors, and shares interesting anecdotes growing up in Gedung Kuning. Through 28 short stories, readers get a historical narrative detailing the lives of people living in Gedung Kuning and the Malays of Singapore from 1850s to 1999.
This volume collects together and reprints two groundbreaking publications from the 1950s by Dr Leon Comber: Introduction to Secret Societies; and Traditional Mysteries of Chinese Secret Societies in Malaya. The volumes were written to initiate laypersons to the mysterious world of Chinese secret societies. Secret societies were originally founded on the bedrock of blood ties, kinship, mutual help and rebellion against repressive regimes and especially relevant to the immigrant communities of the Nanyang (overseas) Chinese as they integrated into new homelands. To that extent, many of their rituals, codes of conduct and history held true to original ideals.
Over time however, many secret societies later turned to crime and have become synonymous with criminal organizations serving their leaders and gang members purposes rather than the wider community. Now republished in one paperback volume with new setting and design, The Triads provides a new readership with a fascinating glimpse into a world which continues to capture the imagination for both older and younger generations of students of an overseas Chinese community in Asia.
This volume collects together and reprints four classic books written in the 1950s by Dr Leon Comber: Chinese Ancestral Worship; Chinese Festivals in Malaya (with Dorothy Lo); Chinese Magic & Superstition in Malaya; and Chinese Temples in Singapore. These books on Chinese life and customs were reprinted many times but have long been out of print. Written for the layperson, the style is simple and unpretentious, yet Comber’s meticulously presents a veritable cornucopia of a culture still relevant and present in modern Southeast Asia Completely reset and attractively designed this new publication addresses the rich heritage of the overseas Chinese community’s roots and practices, and for those reading about or visiting Southeast will find it a ready source of information and knowledge of ancient and classic Chinese culture in all its glory.
About This Book
The rich diversity of Singapore’s heritage in postage stamps may be something of a surprise! This finely illustrated softback written for children and adults gives details and stories about the significance of the buildings and objects depicted. These include official buildings, places of worship, rivers and bridges, nature parks, and monuments, including now-dismantled Japanese shrines. This book opens many windows onto Singapore’s history.
Format: Paper Back, 96 pages
Published: 2007, Singapore, 1st Edition
This book is the first of its kind. It brings together over 300 fascinating ‘firsts’ in Singapore. Do you know who owned the first car brought into Singapore? Or who the first woman doctor was? What about the first ‘skyscraper’ or the first court house? Authors Kay Gillis and Kevin Tan have compiled a personal collection of interesting and intriguing ‘firsts’ in an A-Z encyclopaedia. Most of the listings include extensive write-ups and histories.
This catalogue accompanied the 2006 exhibition of photographs by the celebrated and pioneer Singapore photographer Yip Cheong Fun (1903-1989). In these remarkable photo studies, the National Library Board and the Singapore Heritage Society have presented many aspects of both the physical fabric and the human life and emotions of Singapore in the 20th century. With biographical and professional summaries and over a hundred photographs with many smaller insets. Partly in Chinese.
by Kwok Kian Woon, Ho Weng Hin and Tan Kar Lin (eds.)
The Singapore Heritage Society has undertaken this compilation of articles and letters that appeared in the local press over the controversial decision by the government to demolish the National Library building at Stamford Road. Earmarked as the new site for a management university, the centrally-located area has since 1960 evoked a host of sentiments for thousands of Singaporeans, who face the loss of yet another built memory.
by Kwok Kian-Woon, C.J. Wee Wan-Ling and Karen Chia (eds)
N.B.: Appendix (pages 60-88) are not available in the PDF version.
A preliminary review conducted by the Singapore Heritage Society of the Singapore Tourism Board’s multi-million dollar proposal to “revitalise” Chinatown. The book documents the courses that are relevant for the implementation of the STB plans; draw lessons from the Chinatown debate and reflect on the future directions for the development of other heritage sites in Singapore.
The study presents:
1. The Chinatown heritage.
2. Challenges in the revitalization of Chinatown.
3. Opportunities for the redevelopment of Chinatown.
4. A consideration of the STB proposal.
by Kwok Kian-Woon, Indira Arumugam, Karen Chia and Lee Chee Keng (eds)
In the wide-ranging and often complex papers and discussion at the February 2000 Singapore Conference “We Asians — between Past & Future,” Japanese and Southeast Asian contributors examined concepts of Asianness. The material evolves around the following themes: The past as prologue; war and violence; history and memory; Colonialism, Communism and nation-state formation; the rise of Capitalism in Asia; Culture and consciousness and Beginning the 21st Century.
by Kwok Kian Woon, Kwa Chong Guan, Lily Kong and Brenda Yeoh (eds.)
Our Place in Time is a collection of papers presented at a forum on 17-18 September 1994. It discusses our search for identity as an attempt to recover and rediscover ‘the living presence of the past’, for ‘heritage is not simply what we inherit from the past, as if it were fixed and given; rather, it embodies and discloses forms of human possibilities – possible ways of life, hopes and fears, aspirations fulfilled and unfulfilled. The book discusses how heritage answers fundamental questions such as what it means to be human and how recollecting the past is a part of projecting our future.
A new and charming version of Geraldene’s well known and loved memoir of a Chinatown past. Lavishly illustrated by Derek Corke, who lived and painted Singapore for 18 years, this companion reader and guide to Singapore’s Chinatown is an ideal gift and souvenir of one of Southeast Asia’s vibrant cities and it impressive and cherished heritage.
This is a pioneering work that attempts to trace the literary heritage of Singapore from its founding in 1819 up to 1959. Covers the early religious tracts published by missionary groups; poems, short stories published in newspapers and magazines; publishing houses, book distribution; literary awareness; and writers and their works. Photographs by Albert Lim K.S. & Eng Bow Kee.