Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bukit Brown Watch Day 2015

Bukit Brown Watch Day was held on March 14th to commemorate World Monuments Watch Day for Singapore’s first and only World Monuments Fund watch site, Bukit Brown Cemetery , which was granted to it in October 2013. Various activities were held in Bukit Brown and about 100 people turned up to attend and participate in a wide range of activities such as bird watching, storytelling, sketching, tours to a kampong, stories of clan and culture and finally peranakan tile painting and old school games.

Volunteers from All Things Bukit Brown partnered with Singapore Heritage Society and Wing Chong of Nature Society to make this event a meaningful one that demonstrates the heritage and nature value of Bukit Brown.

Bukit Brown Watch Day 2015
Enthusiast signing up for the various activities

Exploring old expunged roads leading to a once bustling village

Remains of a foundation /flooring of a house 

Large trees cut down for the highway in Hill 2

Hoardings hide a totally scarred hill 

Beautiful trees but for how long ?


Friday, March 06, 2015

Birdwatching in Bidadari (February 2015)

A Happy Chinese New Year 2015. Here's wishing everyone good health and happiness in all that you do. This Chinese New Year holiday stretches over Thursday-Friday giving me the opportunity to pursue more birdwatching over the Chinese New Year period with more earnest in between visiting and festive dining. It provides good exercise in between feasting as well !

Below are some of the birds i saw in Bidadari during Chinese New Year.
Lineated Barbet in Bidadari
Lineated Barbet 
Tiger Shrike in Bidadari
Tiger Shrike 
Asian Brown Flycatcher in Bidadari
Asian Brown Flycatcher 

Blue-throated Bee Eater in Bidadari
Blue-throated Bee Eater
Long tailed Parakeet in Bidadari
Long tailed Parakeet 

See also previous post on Bidadari :
Birdwatching before New Year 2015, posted on on January 01, 2015
Birdwatching in Bidadari - Raptors spotted (December, 2014), posted on December 26, 2014
Birdwatching in Bidadari - Local Residents (December, 2014), posted on December 16, 2014
Birdwatching in Bidadari - Blue-winged Pitta (December, 2014), posted on December 14, 2014
Birdwatching in Bidadari (November 9, 2014), posted on November 9, 2014
Birdwatching in Bidadari - Jambu Fruit Dove ( December 6 ), posted on December 6, 2013
Birdwatching in Bidadari ( November 3, 2013), posted on November 3, 2013
Weaving through Bidadari (Muslim Cemetery), posted on October 17, 2013
Weaving through Bidadari (Alkaff Gardens and Lake), posted on October 8, 2013
Weaving through Bidadari (Birdwatching), posted on October 14, 2013
Bidadari (17 December), posted on December 18, 2012
Saving Bidadari, posted on December 5, 2012
Bidadari (7 December), posted on December 9, 2012
Bidadari (18 November), posted on November 18, 2012

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Yeo Lock Gee (Loa Sua)

The beautiful tomb of Yeo Lock Gee (Yeo Lock Ghee) and her mother are found in Loa Sua (Greater Bukit Brown) right almost on top of a Hill overlooking the Pan Island Expressway.
Mother of Yeo Lock Gee
On the tomb of mother of Yeo Lock Gee are listed the following names:
Sons: ( Yeo Lock Gee, Yeo Lock Sum, Yeo Lock Choon ) ; Daughters: ( Yeo Watt Neo, Yeo Gin Neo ) ; Grandsons: ( Yeo Eng Wah, Yeo Eng Tiong, Yeo Eng Kiat, Yeo Eng Seng, Yeo Eng Hoe, Yeo Eng Hoo, Yeo Eng Hee ) ;

Grand-daughters: ( Yeo Sim Neo, Yeo Im Choo, Yeo Goh Neo, Yeo Luck Neo ) ; Great Grandsons: ( Yeo Tiang Soon, Yeo Tiang Siew, Yeo Tiang Hong, Yeo Tiang Sun, Yeo Tiang Chwee, Yeo Tiang Kim ) ; Great Grand daughters: Yeo Poh Kin, Yeo Poh Neo, Yeo Cheng Neo
Sons and Grandsons
Yeo Lock Gee's tomb 
Tomb of Yeo Lock Gee
Yeo Lock Gee / Yeo Lock Ghee passed away at the age of 56 on December 25, 1925 at his residence C-1  Sit Wah Road (off Outram Road).  He leaves behind him 5 sons, Yeo Eng Wah, Yeo Eng Tjong, Yeo Eng Kiat, Yeo Eng Seng, Yeo Eng Hoe, 5 daughter-in-law, 2 daughters, 2 sons-in-law and 19 grandchildren to mourn his loss. The funeral took place on December 29, 1925 at Tua Pah Yoh (Toa Payoh). The executors of his will are Tan Hock Moh (his son-in-law) and Yeo Eng Seng. His wife, Madam Chua Bee Hong Neo passed away in April 26, 1920.

7 years after his death, there was an advertisment describing the auction sale of the items of Yeo Lock Gee's estate.  Included in it were polished teak and Canton blackwood house furniture, one large iron safe (by M. Wanner, Hamburg) and other furniture. In 1947, No B and No C-1 Sit Wah Road, freehold land and house of Yeo Lock Gee was sold.

On the tomb of Yeo Lock Gee are listed the following names:
Sons: Yeo Eng Wah, Yeo Eng Tiong, Yeo Eng Kiat, Yeo Eng Seng, Yeo Eng Hoe,
Daughter-in-laws: Chua Keng Neo, Koh Kim Neo, Ong Yeam Neo, Koh Choo Neo
Son-in-laws: Tan Hock Moh, Tan Leong Bin
Grand daughters: Yeo Poh Kim, Yeo Poh Neo, Yeo Cheng Neo
Grandchildren: Tan Beng Chuan, Tan Beng Kim
Sons of Yeo Lock Gee 
Family 
Son: Yeo Eng Tiong
Yeo Eng Tiong married the daughter of Koh Sek Lim.

Son: Yeo Eng Kiat
The photo features Yeo Tiang Hoon (at the time 8 years old) and his older brother, Yeo Tiang Hock, (10 years ) on the right. In the middle, is Mr Yeo Eng Kiat who was about 30 years old when this picture was taken.
Photo courtesy of Aaron koh
Photo courtesy of Aaron Koh 
After the fall of Singapore in February 15, 1942 , many Chinese were rounded up, what was later known as Operation "Sook Ching" or purge through cleansing. Among the victims was Yeo Tiang Hock who together with his uncle was rounded up. Oral accounts from the family recount that Yeo Tiang Hock stood in front of his uncle and took the bullet for his uncle. This uncle made it alive to tell the tale.

Yeo Eng Kiat passed away at the age of 80 on November 28, 1972 at 27, Marshall Road. He is survived by his son Yeo Tiang Hoon, daughter Yeo Swee Neo (baby), son-in-law, daughter-in-law and 5 grandchildren.

Ornate features of the Yeo cluster of tombs
The tomb of Yeo Lock Gee and her mother are beautiful and ornate with Sikh /Punjabi statutes as guardians and both share beautiful ornate altar table.

Punjabi /Sikh Guards
Ornate altar table with dragons and lions 

Yeo Lock Gee's tomb with ornate features


References
Death. (1925, December 28). The Straits Times.
Death. (1972, November 29). The Straits Times
Correspondence with Aaron Koh.


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Mrs Koh Sek Lim nee Ang Chit Yan (Bukit Brown)

Madam Ang Chit Yan is buried in Bukit Brown, Hill 4 Section C plot no. 80. She is the wife of Mr. Koh Sek Lim whose legacy is remembered by two road named after him, Koh Sek Lim Road and Xilin Avenue. Madam Ang Chit Yan passed away at her residence Gulega Bedoh Estate, No 655-17, Padang Terbakar, Bedoh (Bedok) at 10:15 pm on Friday, 12th November 1937 at the age of 65. She is survived by her husband, Mr. Koh Sek Lim, 14 sons (Koh Kong Wee, Koh Kong Wan, Koh Kong Boon, Koh Kong Seng, Koh Kong Sun, Koh Kong Hai, Koh Kong Leong, Koh Kong Hor, Koh Kong Thian and 5 others, 5 daughters-in-law, (Mrs. Koh Kong Wee, Mrs. Koh Kong Wan. Mrs. Koh Kong Seng, Mrs. Koh Kong Sun, Mrs, Koh Kong Hor, 10 daughters, 4 son-in-laws ( Yeo Eng Tiong, Wee Swee Seng, Lim Teck Seng, Lim Eng Yong and 30 grandchildren).

On her tombstones, the complete names of the sons and daughters include:
Sons: Koh Kong Wee, Koh Kong Wan, Koh Kong Boon, Koh Kong Seng, Koh Kong Sun, Koh Kong Hai, Koh Kong Leong, Koh Kong Hor, Koh Kong Thian, Koh Kong Choo, Koh Kong Boo, Koh Kong Eng, Koh Kong Liang, Koh Kong Ann

Daughters: Koh Twa Nia, Koh Sah Nia, Koh Seet Nia, Koh Luk Nia, Koh Pek Nia, Koh Kow Nia, Koh Chup Nia, Koh Chup Itt Nia, Koh Chup Jee Nia, Koh Kong Neo

Grandson: Harry Koh

Grand-daughter: Rosy Koh, Daisy Koh, Merry Koh, Maggie Koh.
Tomb of Mrs Koh Sek Lim nee Madam Ang Chit Yan in Bukit Brown
Tomb of Mrs Koh Sek Lim nee Madam Ang Chit Yan in Bukit Brown  
Koh Sek Lim (1864-1948)
Koh Sek Lim is a Hokkien, who came down from Malacca as a youth and was said to have work in bicycle repairs. He saved money to purchase property where he rented it out and also land, where he planted coconuts and rubber. His estate was said to stretch from Bedok Road to areas where Singapore Expo, the East MRT depot and the New Water plant is. Later, part of his estates was used as sand pits where sand was mined and used in Singapore's building industry.

Koh Sek Lim was also an auctioneer who ran his business from No. 3 Malacca Street and No 20 Raffles Place before it was sold of in June 27, 1924 to Yeo Eng Hoe of C-1, Sit Wah Road.
He rented houses from 501, Padang Terbakar, Bedoh. There is also an interesting article in the Singapore Free Press dated September 25, 1912 of Koh Sek Lim and sons cutting their towchangs or queue at his residence called "Raffles House" at 456 Geylang Road.
source: NewspaperSG
source: NewspaperSG
source: NewspaperSG
Death
I could not find the exact date where Koh Sek Lim passed away. However there was an article in August 25, 1948 where the family of the late Mr. Koh Sek Lim thanked Rev. Chew Hock Hin, Rev. Khoo Chiang Bee, Pastor Low Kway Song, Messrs. Lim Yew Chye, T.S. Kung and Chan Wah Teck, Members and Choir Members of Geylang Straits Chinese Methodist Church and Bedok Methodist Chapel for their time. From the book, Singapore Street Names (by V.R, Savage) it states that Koh Sek Lim has 7 wives. Unfortunately other than Madam Ang Chit Yan, i am not able to find the names of the rest of his wives. 

Family 

Son: Koh Kong Wee
Koh Kong Wee worked for Sisson & Delay (1930)
Mrs Koh Kong Wee (Madam Tan Kiam Neo) passed away on March 1, 1988 at the age of 88.

Son: Koh Kong Seng
Koh Kong Seng  married Miss Glory Low ( daughter of Mr and Mrs Low Kway Song). Their eldest son is Harry Koh Teck Hin

Son: Koh Kong Sun
Mrs Koh Kong Sun nee Madam Chee Siok Neo passed away at the age of 42 on April 29, 1959 at 1D Gulega Road leaving behind her husband, 8 sons and 2 daughters.

Son: Koh Kong Hai (1910-? )
Koh Kong Hai married Miss Cheong Keong Tuan (3rd daughter of Cheong Koon Seng and Chia Siew Tin) on August 31, 1940 at Wesley Church. Koh Kong Hai attended St.Andrew's School till age of 15 and worked as a foreman with the government office.

Koh Kong Hai passed away on May 15, 1988 and is survived by his wife, his daughters: Maureen Koh (son-in-law, Lim Kim Leong), Mildred Koh (son-in-law, Adrian Goh), son: Allan Koh
Grandchildren: Keith, Lisa, Jill, May, Mark, Allison. His residence was at 26 Bowmont Gardens.
Koh Kong Hai and Cheong Keong Tuan 
Son: Koh Kong Thian
Koh Kong Thian passed away on Jan 2, 1982. Mrs Koh Kong Thian (nee Ong Phaik Hoon) passed away on March 20, 1987. She is survived by her children: Dennis Koh, Daniel Koh and Nancy Koh.

Son: Koh Kong Boo
Koh Kong Boo, son of Mrs. Koh Sek Lim and the late Mr. Koh Sek Lim engaged with Miss Emma Wong Kay Siong, daughter of Mr and Mrs Wong Chai Lung in July 1950.

Daughter: Koh Sah Nia
Koh Sangh Nya (likely Koh Sah Nia) engaged with Wee Swee Seng (second son of Wee Khiam Long) in May 1926

Land Acqusition and Land use
325 acres of land was acquired by the government from Public Trustees of the estate of Koh Sek Lim in 1954 for $750,000 for resettlement and development. Despite that, there was still land held in trust. In 1957, the Pubic Trustees called for a tender to invite bidders to pluck 20,000 coconuts from the estate.
Koh Sek Lim Road

[Still researching for more leads]

References
Death. (1937, November 14). The Sunday Tribune
Acknowledgements. (1948, August 25). The Straits Times
Appeal on Bedok Land Takeover. (1954, October 12). The Singapore Standard.
Advertisement. (1957, September 6). The Straits Times
Street Directory and Guide to Singapore. 1954
Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, S. A. B. (2013).Singapore street names: A study of Toponymics. Marshall Cavendish Editions
http://www.academia.edu/2461018/Peranakan_English_in_Singapore


Sunday, March 01, 2015

Birdwatching in Tampines Echo (February 22, 2015)

It has been almost two months since i went birdwatching in Tampines Echo Green and because of this years long Chinese New Year holiday, i found time to pursue this activity with more earnest in between visiting and festive dining. Below are some of the birds that i manage to sight and take pictures of. The ones that got me really excited was the sighting of Rufous Woodpecker and Sooty Headed Bulbul.

My last visit to Tampines Echo just before New Year 2015, brought me reward sighting of the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo and Rufous Woodpecker.
Rufous Woodpecker in Tampines Echo Green
Rufous Woodpecker 
Rufous Woodpecker in Tampines Echo Green
Rufous Woodpecker 
Sooty Headed Bulbul in Tampines Echo Green
Sooty Headed Bulbul 
Sooty Headed Bulbul in Tampines Echo Green
Sooty Headed Bulbul 
Blue-tailed Bee Eater in Tampines Echo Green
Blue-tailed Bee Eater 
Red-breasted Parakeet in Tampines Echo Green
Red breasted Parakeet 

Scaly Breasted Munia in Tampines Echo Green
Scaly Breasted Munia 
Asian Brown Flycatcher in Tampines Echo Green
Asian Brown Flycatcher 
Baya Weaver in Tampines Echo Green
Baya Weaver and its lovely nest 
See also previous post on Tampines Echo Green
Birdwatching before New Year 2015, posted on January 1, 2015
Tampines Echo Revisited, posted on November 10, 2011
Birds at Tampines Echo, posted on May 29, 2011
Tampines Echo Green, posted on May 10, 2011
Asian Golden Weaver in Tampines Echo, posted on May 3, 2011

Birdwatching in Pasir Ris Park (February 20, 2015)

Firstly, a Happy Chinese New Year 2015. Here's wishing everyone good health and happiness ina all you do. This Chinese New Year holiday stretches over Thursday-Friday giving me the opportunity to pursue more birdwatching over the Chinese New Year period with more earnest in between visiting and festive dining. It provides good exercise in between feasting as well !

Below are some of the birds that i manage to take pictures of. The ones that got me really excited was the sighting of the Pasir Ris Park local resident, the Spotted Wood Owl and escapees from the bird trade, Cut-Throat Finches.

Spotted Wood Owl in Pasir Ris Park
Spotted Wood Owl winking !

Cut throat Finch in Pasir Ris Park
Cut throat Finch

Cut throat Finch in Pasir Ris Park
Cut-throat Finch (Male with distinct red color on throat)

Rose-ringed Parakeets feeding on mangrove leaves 
An interesting bird behavior i observed during my trips in February to Pasir Ris Park was a pair of Rose-ringed Parakeets feeding on mangrove leaves. The mangrove tree seemed to belong to the Avicennia family. 

Rose-ringed Parakeet in Pasir Ris Park
Rose-ringed Parakeet feeding on mangrove leaves
Rose-ringed Parakeet in Pasir Ris Park
Rose-ringed Parakeet feeding on mangrove leaves

Other bird sightings in Pasir Ris Park. 

Red Jungle Fowl 
White throated Kingfisher 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mary Wee (Bukit Brown)

Miss Mary Wee who passed away at the age of 12 on March 17, 1927 is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Wee Eng Cheng based on the inscriptions of this simple marble tomb.
Miss Mary Wee daughter of Mr and Mrs Wee Eng Cheng
Mr and Mrs Wee Eng Cheng sounds familiar. Based on the year of Mary's death and Mary's parents name, Mary Wee is possibly the daughter of Mr. Wee Eng Cheng, who is the son of the late Wee Siang Tat , head of shipping firm, Wee Bin & Co. and grandson of Wee Boon Teck. Unfortunately this is at the moment, only speculation and i am not able to verify 100% for sure. If there any descendants with insights on this, i hope they can email me and verify.

Wee Eng Cheng (黄永清) was a Straits born Chinese from the prominent Wee family. He is the great grandson of Wee Bin of Wee Bin & Co , merchant and shipowners. Wee Eng Cheng was a Director in the Ho Hong Bank and Chinese Commercial Bank. He held partnership in the Eng Hoe Kongsi of No 19 Church Street which dealt with Sago manufacturers and dealers before he sold it to his managing partner in 1920 and was the Vice-President of the Jin Hua Kok Association (1923)
Wee Eng Cheng (source: NUS Museum-Dressing the Baba)
Death 
Wee Eng Cheng passed away on May 3, 1928 at the age of 34. Lim Peng Mau and Madam Goh Boh Tan (mother of Wee Eng Cheng ) were appointed the joint trustees of the estate in 1928. Wee Eng Cheng left behind valuable landed property in Singapore and cash in the sum of $97, 252 in Ho Hong Co and in the bank.

His wife, Madam Ang Peng Neo passed away on May 1929, a year after Wee Eng Cheng passed away, leaving behind an infant son (Wee Seck Hock) and a daughter.  Both Mr and Mrs Wee tombs were staked by LTA for the proposed highway project and have already been exhumed.

His son, Wee Seck Hock was a beneficiary of the estate and took to court to remove Lim Peng Mau and Madam Goh Boh Tan as trustees and to appoint a new trustee. What exactly happen to the case is not known to me. Wee Seck Hock passed away January 12, 1972 at the age of 54. He is survived by his widow, 2 sons and mother. The cortege left from 157 Neil Road. His two sons, Wee Lin and Wee Sun later agreed to sell the family home to National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2005. With a memorial gift from Agnes Tan (the daughter of Tan Cheng Lock ) , NUS was able to purchase, restore and turn it to a museum today known as The Baba House.

Wee Eng Cheng (黄永清) (peg 1497) and Ang Peng Neo (洪平娘) (peg 1496) tombs have already been exhumed.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Battle for Singapore Heritage Tours - Bukit Brown

The National Heritage Board of Singapore (NHB) organised a slew of activities to commemorate the 73rd Anniversary of the Battle for Singapore and also the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Singapore. The activities included guided tours, public talks and an exhibition during the period of February and March 2015, one which featured a bunker that used to belong to the British naval base and the one i managed to sign up for was the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter.

I was one of the guides for the In Remembrance of World War 2 at Bukit Brown and for this tour, we shared on some of the personalities that played a role during the War and also highlighted the geographical significance of Bukit Brown and Mount Pleasant area as World War 2 sites that encountered fierce battle just before the surrender of Singapore on February 15, 1942.

Personalities Covered for my trail
Lim Chong Pang 
Wong Chin Yoke
Tan Ean Kiam
Tan Ean Teck

Three volley salute at the Police funeral of Wong Chin Yoke
I covered also a unique facet of Bukit Brown, the Punjabi Guards which are symbolic of the cultural fusion or melting pot of different races representative of a unique period of time when Singapore was a colony of the invincible British Empire. This myth of invincibility was finally shattered with the fall of Singapore to the Japanese force that sweep aside the British fortress within a month of landing in Malaya. Notably, the Punjabi or Sikh Guard statues were popular among the Chinese businessmen or towkay, pre-1945, after which they disappeared completely from being used as guardians of the deceased.

Wong Chin Yoke cluster- Probably the tallest statutes at 5 feet 8 inches
Block 4 Division A @1.339891,103.824901
I painted the story of many civilians fleeing Singapore days before the fall of Singapore and the sinking of the ship SS Kuala which led to the death of Mrs. Lim Nee Soon (mother of Lim Chong Pang) and many other nurses and civilians drowned. The tragic story of SS Kuala and SS Tanjong Pinang was well documented in many websites. 

Finally i touched on a sensitive area of the role of some of this prominent Chinese played during Japanese occupied Singapore as members of the Overseas Chinese Association (O.C.A), an association made of prominent Chinese who worked with the Japanese Military Administration to maintain local order and support the Japan war effort. Some of this prominent Chinese did not survived the war (e.g, Tan Ean Kiam but for those who did, they were accused by the British Military Administrators as collaborators, but later exonerated for their involvement with the O.C.A (e.g. Lim Chon Pang, Lim Boon Keng).

Remains of bones found 
Bukit Brown has still many stories uncovered or waiting to be uncovered that is related to the war which was not covered in this tour or at least the one i conducted. Below are some links from previous articles i wrote either about personalities buried in Bukit Brown who died as a direct result of the war or contributed to the war resistance effort. Many mysteries still remain unsolved such as the location of the communal trenches documented in the burial registrar.

Tay Koh Yat, posted on November 24, 2011
Communal Trenches of War Victims in Bukit Brown, posted on March 5, 2012
Soh Koon Eng, posted on January 27,2013
Volunteer Soldiers buried in Bukit Brown-a journey of rediscovery, posted on July 26, 2014



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