Monday, February 29, 2016

Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon in Tampines Eco Green (February 27, 2016)

The birding community was abuzz with confirmed sighting of the Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon (Treron fulvicollis) many birdwatchers and photographers came down to Tampines Eco Green to catch sight of this rare visitor to Singapore. I found time on Saturday evening and headed down to hopefully catch sight of it as well. It was still around and indeed it was a beauty ! The Singapore Bird Group of Nature Society shed some light as well on this bird's status. 

Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon (Treron fulvicollis)
Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon (Treron fulvicollis)

Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon (Treron fulvicollis)
Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon (Treron fulvicollis)

Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon (Treron fulvicollis)
Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon (Treron fulvicollis)
I took the time to also explore the other parts of Tampines Eco Green and manage to take pictures of it's other residents before heading to the trail where the Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon was busy feeding on a fruiting tree. There were many bird photographers there busy snapping the Pigeon while the sky opened up with beautiful sun rays before eventually becoming dark. I do hope the Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon will one day be a common feature of this lovely park.

Sooty Headed Bulbul
Sooty Headed Bulbul 

Sooty Headed Bulbul
Sooty Headed Bulbul 

Blue-Throated Bee Eater
Blue Throated Bee-Eater

Blue-Throated Bee Eater
Blue-Throated Bee Eater

Red-breasted Parakeet
Red-breasted Parakeet

Scaly breasted Munia

A great evening birdwatching in Tampine Eco Green 

Related Post
Birdwatching in Tampines Eco Green (April 5, 2015) Part I. Posted on April 9, 2015
Birdwatching in Tampines Eco Green (April 5, 2015) Part II. Posted on April 11, 2015

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bukit Brown Cemetery Tours

Although the 8 lane highway is already under construction and parts of Bukit Brown destroyed forever, the volunteer community of All Things Bukit Brown (also known as "Brownies" ) is continuing to organise public tours in Bukit Brown. We do this in our efforts to create awareness of the importance of Bukit Brown as a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site worthy of preservation.

This tours are now advertised online centrally via Peatix and you may check online on a weekly basis for upcoming tours and reserve a ticket via this mode.

My previous articles stating examples of the intrinsic value of Bukit Brown Cemetery as a Heritage Park worthy of UNESCO World Heritage status.
Bukit Brown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, posted on April 2, 2013
UNESCO World Heritage bid, why not Bukit Brown too? posted on April 14,

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mrs Lee Choon Guan (Choa Chu Kang Christian Cemetery)

Mrs Lee Choon Guan ( Madam Tan Teck Neo ) holds the honor as the first Singapore woman to be awarded the Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her tireless service for the Red Cross during the Great War (World War I). She was also the first Chinese woman to be presented at court to King George V and Queen Mary. Madam Tan Teck Neo is the second daughter of Mr Tan Keong Saik. She and her sisters were tutored at home by 3 tutors, one for English, one for piano and one for painting. She married Mr. Lee Choon Guan, J.P.  (1868-1924), after his wife (Madam Wee Guat Kim, daughter of Mr. Wee Boon Teck) passed away.

Mr. Lee Choon Guan was a founder of the Straits Steamship Company and for 11 years a member of the Singapore Legislative Council. He was also the co-founder of the Chinese Commercial Bank in 1912 and a director in a number of rubber and tin companies. Born in Singapore to Mr. Lee Cheng Yan, he initially work at his father's company, Lee Cheng Yan and Co, Chop Chin Joo as a merchant and financier.

Tan Teck Neo  /Mrs Lee Choon Guan
(source: NAS) 

Lee Choon Guan  (source: NAS)

Member of the British Empire ( M.B.E. )

Mrs Lee has traveled with her husband around the world 3 times. When the War (World War I ) broke out, they were in Belgium and she and husband return to England where they stayed at the Harrogate, a hot springs holiday resort. It was during this period she volunteered for the Red Cross and tended wounded Soldiers and civilians and has result was conferred the M.B.E.

Philanthropist and Socialite

Mrs. Lee Choon Guan is a Patron of the Po Leung Kuk,  Board Member of the Singapore Chinese Girl School, Children's Aid Society, the first President of the Chinese Ladies Association. She was a well known socialite and many newspaper mentions over the years of gatherings and parties held her home, Mandalay Villa. Mandalay Villa, on  No 29. Amber Road, was built in 1902 by Lee Cheng Yan (father of Lee Choon Guan) by the Katong seaside. It was a two-storey bungalow, erected over a land area measuring 53,000 sq ft.
Chinese Ladies Association 

Mrs Lee Choon Guan at Mandalay Villa
(source: NAS)

Mandalay Villa (source: PictureSG) 


Mr. Lee Choon Guan passed away at the age of 56 in August 27, 1924. He is survived by Mrs. Lee Choon Guan, 3 sons, Lee Pang Seng, J.P. , Municipal Commissioner ;  Lee Pang Chuan ; Lee Pang Soo ) , 3 daughters ( Mrs Choa Eng Wan,  Mrs Tan Soo Keng and Miss Lee Poh Neo ). He was interred in the family cemetery in Upper Serangoon Road where his father, Mr. Lee Cheng Yan is also buried.
Casket of Mr Lee Choon Guan at Mandalay Villa (source: National Archives, Singapore)

Mrs Lee Choon Guan passed away at Mandalay Villa, 29 Amber Road on February 27, 1978 at the age of 100. According to the obituary notice, she is survived by 6 grandchildren;  Mrs Lucy Chen Nee Sian, Mrs Alice Chua Boon Yew, Mrs Ivy Kwa Soon Chuan, Mr Herbie Lim Eng Kwan, Mrs Gladys Beng Boo Giap, Mr Roland Lim Eng Ser, 4 grandsons-in-law, 2 grand-daughters-in-law, 13 great-grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren-in-law and 1 great-great-grand-daughter. She is buried in Chua Chu Kang Christian Cemetery.

Tomb of Mrs. Lee Choon Guan 

Tomb of Mrs Lee Choon Guan

Bukit Brown Cemetery Connection
Mrs Choa Eng Wan nee Lee Poh Lian
Mrs. Lim Chong Pang nee Lee Poh Neo
Tan Keong Siak and family 

<research on-going>

Untitled. (1919, March 27). The Singapore Free Press,
Mr. Lee Choon Guan. (1924, August 29). The Singapore Free Press, page 7
Advertisement. (1978, March 1). The Straits Times.
Mandalay Villa. Infopedia
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press

Monday, February 22, 2016

In Remembrance of WWII at Bukit Brown Cemetery (21 February 2016)

National Heritage Board of Singapore organised yet again another interesting series of programmes in conjunction with 74th anniversary of the Battle of Singapore. Part of this programmes include actual guided walks at various actual sites where the battle took place or in the case of Bukit Brown, the battle that took place around it and also the stories of the various personalities affected by the WWII, and in some cases died as result of it. I was one of the volunteer guide's again for this year's NHB WWII at Bukit Brown tour for the 21 February 2016 - Guide Walk B.

Bukit Brown, with the highway under construction can be a frustrating place to visit for first timers. The reason being is there are now 2 entry points and they connect with each other only in a very small area inside of Bukit Brown. This leads to the potential of tour participants joining the wrong group and this happened in our case as they were two meeting points. Fortunately since we had two tours running simultaneously, this was less of a concern as people could still participate.

(source: NHB press release)

Taking note of the new meeting points for Bukit Brown Tours

So do take note carefully where is your meeting point and come earlier if possible and note down the physical signages in place for your intended meeting place.

Bus Stop: 41149 - Adam Rd - Opp SICC, Bus Service No:52, 74, 93, 157, 165, 852, 855

Meeting Point A:  is from the first turning on your left, coming in from Sime Road (or as you turn into Sime Road from Lornie Road) . The sign will indicate " Temporary Access to Block 2 and 5". This meeting point is usually for tours going to Tay Koh Yat, Soh Koon Eng, Lee Kim Soo, Cheong Koon Seng, Neo Tiew wife and mother, Tan Yong Thian, Tan Swee KeeTeo Chin Chay, and Boey Chuan Poh.

Meeting Point B: is the next turning on the left, after the above. The landmark you should see if you are walking in thru this path is the relocated gates of Bukit Brown sans its gates. The sign will indicate "Temporary Access to Block 1, 3 and 4 ". Keeping walking till you see a shaded area with steps and chairs.

Relocated Gates of Bukit Brown 

Meeting Point B
The tours organised by National Heritage Board came with a printed booklet of the various heritage trails and is a keeper. Fortunately, the e-copy is available as pdf online too, so no need to ask for a physical copy.

Singapore in WWII - A Heritage Trial 

Personalities Covered for Guide Walk B

Keeping the format roughly the same as last years, some of the tombs we visited included:
Lim Chong Pang 
Wong Chin Yoke
Tan Ean Kiam
Tan Ean Teck

Group photo of all the participants of Group Walk A and B on 21 February 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Choa Kah Chwee (Bukit Brown)

Choa Kah Chwee is the sole proprietor of Straits Lumber Company, the Straits Merchantile Company and Merk Ban Hoeat Hin. The  Straits Lumber Company, the Straits Merchantile companies are based in No. 69 Teluk Ayer Street. On June 7, 1915 he bought 5 pieces of buildings in Confederate Estate Road (Teluk Kurau area) 28,695 square feet for $2,400.
Mr Choa Kah Chwee passed away at the age of 48 on December 3, 1933 at No 486, Joo Chiat Road. On his tomb is the name of his son: Choa Swee Kheng (Choa Swee Keng) and daughter: Choa Lian Neo (Miss Emilie Choa). When Mr Choa Kah Chwee passed away in 1933, Mrs Choa Kah Chwee and family thanked relatives, friends and members of the Goh Loo Club and Poh Hean Kok Association. Probate of his will was given to Tan Gake Choo Neo and Tan Tong Seng.

Wife: Miss Tan Gake Liew Neo
It was reported in the papers on June 28, 1919 that owning to the death of the wife of Mrs. Choa Kah Chwee, the offices of the Straits Lumber Co. and the Straits Merchantile Agency was closed.
In front of Mr Choa Kah Chwee tomb is his wife who passed away in 1919. Her tomb list two children: son: Choa Teng Yam and daughter: Miss Choa Gim Neo.

I suspect Tan Gake Choo Neo  and the first wife of Mr Choa Kah Chwee are sisters.

Untitled. (1915, June 8). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1919, June 28). The Straits Times
Acknowledgement. ( 1933, December 8). The Straits Times