Friday, January 24, 2014

A stroll in Pasir Ris Park

I made a trip to Pasir Ris Park on Sunday January 19, my first in 2014 to just chill out and relax. Walking on the board walk in the mangrove swamp, i was greeted with the familiar call of the Oriental Pied Hornbill. Approaching closely and quietly, i caught glimpse of not 1 but 2 Oriental Pied Hornbills perched on the mangrove trees. It is my first time sighting hornbills in Pasir Ris Park, although i am aware that there are reported sightings here, this is my first time seeing them here with my own eyes.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Peek-a-boo !

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Oriental Pied Hornbill 

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Oriental Pied Hornbill 
Pasir Ris Park is a lovely place to hang out and today was no exception, with lovely strong breeze. It is a lovely place and if you are lucky and patience, you can sight many birds and mammals in this family friendly place. Below are some of the pictures i took in Pasir Ris which includes: Stork-billed Kingfisher, Little Heron, Grey Heron, long-tailed macaque and finally a clouded monitor lizard. 

Pasir Ris beach
Pasir Ris beach

Stork-billed Kingfisher
Stork-billed Kingfisher

Little Heron
Little Heron 

Grey Heron landing
Grey Heron landing 
A pair of Grey Heron
A pair of Grey Heron
long-tailed macaque eating seeds
Close-up of a long tailed macaque eating seeds

Clouded Monitor Lizard
Clouded Monitor Lizard

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cemeteries in Pengerang to be relocated

It is official ! The Johore state government will be closing six Chinese cemeteries in Pengerang and relocating about 3,400 graves to make way for the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex ). The closure would start as of January 15th 2014 and the affected graves would be relocated to a plot of land in Bukit Gelugor
(about 10km away from Sungai Rengit town).

The graves to be relocated are from:

  • Kg Jawa Darat (Lot 222, 223, 224, 594, 595, 596, 601, 615, 617, 635)
  • Tanjung Kapal (Lot 86)
  • Kg Sungai Kapal (Lot 1261, 1747)
  • Tanjung Dato (Lot 1779)  
  • Tanjung Stapa and Kg Laut (Lot 4188)

Descendants of affected graves are to proceed to the new Chinese cemetery ground for registration and to make necessary relocation arrangements before March 15, 2014. The selection of the new plots at Bukit Gelugor would be done on a first come, first serve basis and enquiries are to be made to the Pengerang Chinese Cemetery Grave Relocation Centre at 016-780 6563 or 014-913 9547 from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday.

According to the report, all costs associated with the relocation of the graves including site preparations for the new cemeteries will be fully borne by the state government and the relocation would be carried out according to Chinese beliefs and rituals. Relocation works would begin by March 16 as soon as the registration period ends.

Related Articles
Chinese Cemeteries in Pengerang, posted on January 2, 2014.
Pengerang in danger, posted on December 21, 2013
Chinese String Puppet Troupe, posted on December 20, 2013
Pengerang Temples, posted on December 17, 2013
Pengerang Battery, posted on December 16, 2013
Day Trip to Pengerang and Sungai Rengit, posted on August 6, 2010.
Trip to Sebana Cove, Pengerang to watch fireflies, posted on April 9, 2007

Six Chinese Cemeteries Make Way for Petroleum Complex. (January 15, 2014). The Star

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nek Mina (Bukit Brown)

Nek Mina
Nek Mina passed away at the age of 84 on April 9, 1938. She is buried in Hill 4 Section C, plot no 362.
Who is Nek Mina ? Is she a non-chinese lady who married a chinese man and thus buried in Bukit Brown or is Nek Mina a nickname for a nonya chinese lady.

All these are speculation, as there are no concrete leads at the moment. What is factual is that Nek Minah will be exhumed as she is affected by the 8 lane highway, and if left unclaimed, her ashes will be deposed at sea.

From the burial records

Nek Mina (peg 2620)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A kidnap bid foiled in the Shaw family - Bukit Brown connection

This week's news was abuzz with first, the passing of Sir Run Run Shaw (CBE, GBM), the legendary movie mogul. He died on January 7, 2014, aged 107. He is survived by 2 sons ( Shaw Vee Meng, Shaw Vee Chung, Harold ), 2 daughters (Dorothy Shaw, Violet Shaw ) , 2 daughter-in-laws ( Josephine Kho, Diana Wee) and many grand and great grandchildren. His wife was Lady Lily Shaw (deceased ) and years after his first wife passing married Madam Mona Fong.

The second news that captivated many Singaporean's was the kidnap attempt of a 79 year old woman, Madam Eng Lai Poh. She is the mother of Mr Lim Hock Chee, Chief Executive of public listed company Sheng Siong, a supermarket chain. The ransom sought by the kidnappers was $20 million. Mr. Lim Hock Chee called the police who helped tracked down the kidnappers and caught the suspects. 

Bukit Brown connection to Shaw and kidnapping 
You may be wondering how this week's two story is related to Bukit Brown? Rewind back to October 3, 1971. There was a kidnap attempt on Mr Harold Shaw Vee Chung, 32 years old as he was about to reach home ( a two storey house in Andrew Road at Caldecott Hill ) in his creamed color Mercedes driven by his driver, Ismail and his accompanying bodyguard after a day out in the races in Bukit Timah. When entering the driveway, an NTUC Comfort taxi blocked its path and 4 men jumped out of the stolen taxi and grabbed Harold Shaw at gunpoint. Harold put up a struggle but was shot in the right arm before being bundled into the boot. 
Harold Shaw Vee Chung
(source: NewspaperSG)
The kidnapper's taxi sped of along Lornie Road before stopping at Kheam Hock Road, off Bukit Brown. The intent was to transfer Harold Shaw into a another car. Fortunately, Harold Shaw managed to escape undetected from the taxi booth, ran along Kheam Hock Road with blood oozing from his right arm till he finally reached home, a mile away. He was escorted with police guard to Mount Alvernia to receive medical attention.

Two reserve unit troops, CID and Kandang Kerbau detectives combed the Bukit Brown cemetery area. Policeman searching for the kidnappers found the NTUC taxi in Bukit Brown Cemetery in what i reckon in Hill 3. The policeman approached the taxi with their sten guns ready to shoot but found an empty taxi with its engine running.
The car used in the foiled kidnap attempt found
somewhere between Hill 3 A and B from map description
(source: NewspaperSG )
Decoy in ambush
The story did not end there. Although the kidnapping was foiled, the kidnappers did not give up. They called the Shaw family after the incident and elder brother, Shaw Vee Meng picked up the phone. The kidnappers demanded $200,000 for a unsuccessful kidnap attempt ! The police were called and policeman Ng Woon Poh (who had the same built and look slightly like Shaw Vee Meng) became a decoy in an ambush bid by the CID. With Harold Shaw safely in Hong Kong and Shaw Vee Meng in Europe, Ng Woon Poh posed as Shaw Vew Meng in their family household in Holland Road.
ASP Ng Woon Poh
(source: NewspaperSG)
Plans for the ambush became concrete when one week later on October 9, the kidnappers finally agreed to received a reduced sum of $100,000 at a carpark in Shangri-la Hotel at 4 pm October 10. The kidnapper would identify himself to the fake Mr Shaw Vee Meng by showing him a pair of binoculars (stolen from Harold Shaw during the abortive kidnap). At the carpark, the kidnapper stepped out of a NTUC Comfort taxi. He was Mr Soo Tang Hwat, a small time robber, extortioner and secret society member. A gun battle ensued and the kidnapper was mortally wounded. Mr Soo died before being wheeled into the operating table. ASP (Retired) Ng Woon Poh received in 1976 from President Sheares, the Police Gallantry Medal -Singapore's top award for outstanding action in dangerous circumstances 
Shaw Vee Meng's Mercedes driven by his decoy
(source: NewspaperSG) 

Pingat Polis Perkasa (Police Gallantry Medal)
(source: NewspaperSG) 

Not the first kidnapping incident in the Shaw Family
Shaw Vee Meng was kidnapped 7 years ago almost a stone throw away from the same place. (he has since moved to Holland Hill ), where on Feb 5, 1964, five kidnappers ambushed him as he was about to leave for work in his Fiat 2100. He and his driver (Mandari bin Iklal) were held for 12 days. Negotiation for a ransom of $1.2 million was made, but during court trial, the Shaw family denied paying any ransom. In June 1966, all 5 kidnappers were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Shaw Vee Meng
(source: NewspaperSG) 
Kidnap bid is foiled. (1971, October 3). The Straits Times
Face to Face with a Gun Barrel. (1976, April 25). The Straits Times 

CBE stands for Commander of the Order of the British Empire and GBM stands for Grand Bauhinia Medal.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wee Thiam Kee and family (Bukit Brown)

Wee Thiam Kee, Wee Thiam Siew and Wee Thiam Leong were partners in the business of Cigars, Cigarettes and Tobacco Dealers under the firm name Ban Leong and Company at 229, Rochore Road. On July 1, 1930, Wee Thiam Kee left this partnership to form his own company under the company name Chop Hong Leong. His two brothers, Wee Thiam Siew and Wee Thiam Leong continued the partnership under the name of Ban Leong and Company.

There is not much information about his career, but because he passed away intestate (i.e, without a will) in 1939, it lead to a probate suit which gave me more information about him, his wife and three secondary wives. His first wife was Madam Ang Boey Neo and secondary wives are Khoo Ah Kow, Tan Beng Choo and Koh Cheng Keow.

Wee Thiam Kee

Secondary wives legal widows

In a court case that span several days, the defendant, Madam Ang Boey Neo (alias Ang Meow Neo) contended that the 3 women were just mistresses and not lawful widows. Wee Thiam Siew (brother of Wee Thiam Kee ) testified that Madam Ang Boey Neo lent her husband $3,000 (a sum she received from legacy of her mother-in-law's estate). The late Wee Thiam Kee then used the money to open a commission agency business  known as Hong Leong  in 1928 which eventually failed. He borrowed money from a money lender to repay her. According to Wee Thiam Siew, she eventually gambled away the money and since 1931 was not on good terms with Wee Thiam Kee and they did not live together.

Before Wee Thiam Kee passed away, Wee Thiam Siew in court said that a quarter share for the premises in 228 /229 Rochore Road was transferred to him as he was the residuary legatee (beneficiary) in his mother's will. Beside this, other property in the family comprised a branch in Hong Leong in Penang, cash in bank estimated to be $10,000 and property at No 30. Hertford Road. Wee Thiam Hock, the eldest brother also gave evidence that he help in the upkeep of Wee Thiam Kee's third wife ($30 a month) and fourth wife ( $40 a month). His younger brother, Wee Thiam Siew helped in the upkeep of the second wife.

Mr Justice Manning, Judge at the High Court ruled that the intention of Wee Thiam Kee and each of his wives at the time, they lived as man and wife and was to contract a permanent union. On that basis, they ( Khoo Ah Kow, Tan Beng Choo and Koh Cheng Keow ) were his secondary wives and were lawful widows.

Madam Ang Boey Neo (the defendant and first wife) said that she was married to Wee Thiam Kee when she was 17 years old, almost 20 years ago and they have gone through the full Chinese ceremony.

Madam Tan Beng Choo (who said she was the second wife) stated she was married to Wee Thiam Kee for 11 years, without ceremony but that on the night of the wedding, 2 or 3 dinner tables were laid out with Wee's friends.

Madam Khoo Ah Kow (who said she was the third wife) said that she married Wee Thiam Kee in the reform style and lived with him and they had a daughter together. She produced a photograph of their wedding. At that time of the wedding she was not aware of Wee's other wives. She met them only later.

Madam Koh Cheng Keow  (who said she was the fourth wife) testified she married Wee Thiam Kee 2 years ago (1937) in Penang. She was a refugee from Amoy and they met in Hong Kong. He had brought her from Hong Kong to Penang. From their union came a son. During a cross examination by the defendant lawyer, Madam Koh denied that she was cabaret dancer or dance hostess in Hong Kong. She further elaborated that she dance for leisure and the wedding was with the blesssing of her parents despite not going through the Chinese ceremony. When asked whether she was aware that Wee Thiam Kee had other wives, she replied "But i did not know that he had so many !" amid the smiles from court participants.

Wee Thiam Kee (alias Wee Png Kee) passed away on Februay 19, 1939 at No 41-P Jalan Kemangan off Changi Road . Wee Thiam Kee is affected by the highway and faces exhumation. His peg number is 2939.

Wee Thiam Kee (peg 2939) 
source: NewspaperSG
Father: Wee Tock Kim
Wee Tock Kim is the father of Messrs. Wee Thiam Hock, Wee Thiam Siew, Wee Thiam Kee and Wee Thiam Liang. He passed away at No 14 Wilkinson Eoad, off Katong Road (near Katong Post Office) on June 9, 1929 at the age of 77. He is survived by 4 sons, 1 daughter and many grand children. He is buried in Alexander Road Cemetery.

Mother: Madam Goh Gheo Neo
Passed away at the age of 59, December 23, 1927, 3 am at No. 229 Rochore Road. Madam Goh Gheo, the wife of Wee Tock Kim  is survived by 4 sons, Messrs. Wee Thiam Hock, Wee Thiam Siew, Wee Thiam Kee and Wee Thiam Liang, 1 daughter, 14 grandchildren. He is buried in Alexander Road Cemetery.

Brother: Wee Thiam Siew

Wee Thiam Siew ( 1894-1972) was a well known millionaire property and hotelier. He was the chairman of the Lion City Hotel, Ban Leong Ltd, Wee Thiam Siew Co. He started by helping out in his father's business in a shophouse in Rochore Road at the age of 7. After leaving school (St Joseph and Raffles Institution) at the age of 16, he worked as telegraphist for the then Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. He later help reorganised his father's business and took up agency for the British and American tobacco companies. From there he expanded into property and hotel ownership. Wee Thiam Siew built his first hotel, the Seventh Storey Hotel in Rochore Road in 1953. In 1957, he built the Hollywood Theatre and in 1968, Lion City Hotel was completed at the cost of $4 million.

Wee Thiam Siew passed away on February 9, 1972 at the age of 81. The cortege left from 525 Dunman Road. His wife, Madam Lee Bong Seow passed away on August 16, 1986 at the age of 89. She is survived by 3 sons; Wee Aik Leng, Wee Aik Koon, Wee Aik Sun, 3 daughter-in-laws; Tan Aun Yoke, Teo Poh Lian, Bebe Lim, 4 daughters; Wee Ah Chuan, Wee Aik Kek, Wee Hum Looi, Wee Lye Choon, God daughter; Ong Moo Kia. The cortege left from 525 Dunman Road.
source: NewspaperSG
Lion City Hotel
(source: NewspaperSG) 
229 Rochore Road 
229 Rochore Road (assuming the road numbers did not change from the 30's and 50's ) is the site of the iconic 7th Storey Hotel Bar and Restaurant and also houses Ban Leong and Co. In 2008, the government announced that they will acquire the 38-room New 7th Storey Hotel for the purpose of the building of the Down Town Line underground station
7th Storey
(source: PictureSG) 

New 7th Storey

Death. (1927, December 24). The Singapore Free Press
Domestic Ocurrences. Death. (1929, June 11). The Singapore Free Press
Advertisement. (1930, July 31). The Singapore Free Press
Are Chinese Secondary Wives Legal Widows . (1939, August 24). The Singapore Free Press
Four Wives in Suit over Chinese Suite. (1939, August 25). The Morning Tribune.
Wife Contends Other Woman only mistress. (1939, August 25). The Singapore Free Press
Secondary Wive Legal Widow Rules Judge. (1939, August 31). The Singapore Free Press
Advertisement. (1941, May 23). The Straits Times
Advertisement. (1953, November 19). The Straits Times
Ministers Open $4.2m Lion City hotel today. (1968, August 2). The Straits Times
Millionaire Wee Thiam Siew dies at 81. ( February 10, 1972). The Straits Times
Death. (1986, August 18). The Straits Times
Rochor Road Hotel makes way for Downtown Line. (2008, June 27). The Straits Times

Monday, January 06, 2014

Mr and Mrs Kwek Loon (Bukit Brown)

While walking on the heavily pegged area of Hill 4 Section C last Saturday, i came across this interesting tomb that showed that both husband and wife ( 郭輪 康發娘 ) passed away less than a day apart. Beside their tomb is the peg number 3461.

Mr and Mrs Kwek Loon (peg 3461) 
Till death do us part and meet again
Mr. Kwek Loon passed away at the age of 61 at 8:45 am on Saturday, June 17, 1939. His wife Mrs Kwek Loon ( nee Madam Kheng Huat Neo ) passed away at the age of 59 on Sunday, June 18, 1939 at 3:15 am at their residence in No 19, Cheow Keng Road, off East Coast Road. In short, Mr and Mrs Kwek Loon passed away less than 24 hours of each other !

They are survived by 4 sons ( Messrs. Chia Liang Gin, Kwek Chip Siang, Kwek, Kwek Chip Jian and Kwek Chip Leng ), 5 daughters, (Kwek Chye Neo, Kwek Kim Neo, Kwek Gwee Neo, ? , ? ) 2 son-in-laws ( Mr. Pang Leong Kang and Mr. Tan Soo Wee ), 2 daughter-in-laws and several grandchildren.

Will Mr and Mrs Kwek Loon part again?
With their tomb affected by the 8 lane highway, husband and wife who passed away less than 24 hours from each other and whose mortal remains lay side by side peaceful in Bukit Brown for more than 60 years may again face separation forever if left unclaimed for the next 3 years from the date of their exhumation.

Related article
Together to the grave - a doctor and his mother, posted on March 17,2012

Deaths. (1939, June 22). The Straits Times
Grave Number 3461. [website] Bukit Brown Cemetery Documentation Project

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2014 - A new year at Ubin Island

Happy New Year to all ! It is the first weekend of 2014 and what better way to spent the first weekend in beautiful Ubin Island. It is the island which i used to regularly frequent until Bukit Brown came along. Although i do try to split time between this two lovely places, but because of the fragility of Bukit Brown right now, Ubin is taking a slight back seat. But hey ! it's the New Year and time to revisit this place for a leisurely walk.
Beautiful Hibiscus
Today, i must say is a good day for spotting butterflies despite the down cast or partly cloudy weather and light rain.

Common Birdwing
Common Birdwing 

Common Rose
Common Rose 

Blue Glassy Tiger
Blue Glassy Tiger

The light showers also made taking picture of spider webs much more fun as you can clearly make out the web made by the Golden Orb Spiders.

Not forgetting the birds, the Oriental Pied Hornbill is becoming synonymous with Ubin where a walk there, you should be able to hear them around. Spotting them depends on the element of luck although they are not rare nowadays and are residents here thanks partly to NParks nesting initiative. Other than the hornbill, i saw pink neck pigeons, blue tailed bee eaters, a solitary long tail shrike, grey herons, ashy tailorbird and a pair of Straw headed Bulbul. 

Oriental Pied Hornbill 
 After a 3 hour walk in Ubin, it was time to leave as the sky was turning worst. Nevertheless we had a good time in Ubin on the first weekend of 2014. May the new year bring us more discoveries !
View from the Ubin Jetty 

A stowaway on my bum boat  ( Javanese Mynah )

Red-breasted Parakeet (Changi Village) 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Chinese Cemeteries in Pengerang ( Heritage Trail in Pengerang )

My Pengerang trail continues, this time with an article highlighting the plight and its future. Cemeteries as we know are symbolic for a community and its pioneers that has taken root in this area and for many of the locals, the resting place of their ancestors. 
Kampong Teluk Ampang Hokkien Cemetery
This Chinese cemetery caught the attention of the locals when development at the fringe of the cemetery impacted some of this tombs and locals were angered that they were not consulted. The Telok Ampang cemetery is one of few cemeteries that lie close to the sea shore.  
Telok Ampang Tombs facing the sea
Development threatening its existence in the backdrop
Tomb with a view 
Oldest tomb here in Pengerang to-date (1892)

Kampong Jawa Cemetery
Kampong Jawa Cemetery is reported to be affected by the development. Located on a hilly area, it overlooks the sea 
Kampong Jawa Cemetery

Relocated tombs

Relocated tombs

Sungai Buntu Chinese Cemetery
This cemetery is located beside the sea and is the nearest to Sungai Rengit. 
tomb of a "secret society" leader ?

two deities side by side

Location and Cemeteries Future
Location of the Cemeteries
(source: Google Maps)
The cemeteries, especially the Kampong Jawa and Kampong Teluk Ampang Hokkien Cemetery are in danger of development. In another article i read, it was reported that 5 Chinese Cemeteries are in danger. What will their future hold? 
Dark clouds over Kampong Jawa Cemetery, Pengerang

Is it sunset or sunrise for the affected Cemeteries 

Related post
Pengerang in danger, posted on December 21, 2013
Chinese String Puppet Troupe, posted on December 20, 2013
Pengerang Temples, posted on December 17, 2013
Pengerang Battery, posted on December 16, 2013
Day Trip to Pengerang and Sungai Rengit, posted on August 6, 2010.
Trip to Sebana Cove, Pengerang to watch fireflies, posted on April 9, 2007

Getting to Pengerang via boat
From Singapore, the place you can take the boat is at Changi Village Ferry Terminal. Upon reaching Tanjong Pengelih, Johor, there will be many taxi's that will be able to bring you to the major town nearby, (roughly at the cost RM$20 - RM$25 for 1 cab) Sungai Rengit. The ferry will only leave when there are 12 people available to board it. So try to go with a group of friends consisting of 12 pax. At the point of writing, it cost about $11 - $13 per pax for a one way trip.