Thursday, August 30, 2018

Madam Tan Jit Neo (Lao Sua)

Madam Tan Jit Neo (1888-1914) was born on 13th August 1888 and passed away on 15th May 1914. She was 26 years old when she passed away. She is survived by 1 son, Quah Peng Gam and 1 daughter, Quah Peck Hay. Her tomb headstone although is bad condition, is a tomb that is beautifully decorated with decorative tiles that look like Delft tiles.

Madam Tan Jit Neo

Decorative tiles 

"Delft like" Decorative tiles 

Overview of Madam Tan Jit Neo's tomb with lovely decorative tiles 

I do not have much information about the family of Madam Tan Jit Neo. In fact, i don't even have the name of Madam Tan Jit Neo's husband. As for her children, there was an article dated 25 April 1949 that mention's the engagement of Miss Nonne Quah (the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Quah Peng Gam ) with Mr. Quek Too Mong (third son of Madam Tan Kah Jeu and the late Mr. Quek Peng Kim). But without knowing more details of the family tree,it is now speculation that this Quah Peng Gam is indeed the son of Madam Tan Jit Neo.

Madam Nonne Quah nee Mrs Quek Too Mong passed away at the age of 47 on 28 July 1971. She is survived by her parents, husband, brother, 2 sons, Francis Quek, Steven Quek, 1 daughter, Judy Quek. The cortege left from 43 Farleigh Avenue for cremation at Mount Vernon crematorium.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Mrs. Wee Ek and Family (Lao Sua)

Mrs. Wee Ek passed away on 28th May 1911. On her tomb are the names of her son; Wee Leok Jim, Wee Whatt Whay, Wee Whay Seo, Wee Chye Kim, daughter; Wee Kim Heok, grandson; Wee Cheng Hock, grand daughter; Wee Cheng Lian.
Mrs. Wee Ek 
While exploring another part of the same hill on a different day, we came across the tomb of Wee Leok Jim who passed away less than a month after the death of her mother. He passed away on 14th June 1911. He is survived by 1 son, Wee Cheng Lock and 1 daughter, Wee Cheng Lian.

Wee Leok Jim 
That's all the information i have right now.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Hawker Culture - Singapore's first nomination for UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage

Food unites us all ! I was invited and attended on 2 April 2018, a Focus Group Discussion organised by the National Heritage Board (NHB). There was a lively and passionate discussion of many cultural heritages from the different racial groups and communities but eventually the topic tend to gravitate to food and the eventual consensus was that food, especially Hawker Food is something we could all agree upon that unites our differences and something we are passionate about. I had my list that i shared during the focus group discussion as well which was not just about food of course !

So it was no surprise, when the decision to nominate Hawker Culture was announced by the Prime Minister during National Day Rally on 19 Aug 2018 and that National Heritage Board (NHB), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Federation of Merchants' Associations (FMAS) will in a committee submit the nomination forms to UNESCO in March 2019 for Singapore’s Hawker Culture to be registered in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The results are expected to be announced sometime in end 2020. I for one, look forward for the preservation of Singapore's Hawker Culture in a time where mounting rental and manpower cost are the major concern's often raised by the younger generation of hawkers working in an environment where major private sector players and REITs are taking over hawker spaces (e.g. foodcourts, coffee shops and even hawker centers ). If that happens, the unique food culture will go the way of Singapore's retail malls suffering the same fate of having the same things being sold everywhere with no uniqueness, very much like a franchise model.

"Car Park" Hawker Centre at Orchard Road 1970 (source: National Archives)

Maxwell Market (source: National Library Board)

Crowd at a Hawker Centre (source: National Archives)
Keeping the barrier of entry low for all Singaporean's who are willing to work hard and make good and affordable food should be the policy and decision makers main focus, if they are serious on keeping this Hawker Culture alive and truly vibrant ! National Heritage Board (NHB) has launched an informative website about Singapore's Hawker Culture and there is even a call to action to pledge our for this nomination. The website is

What is UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Extracted from the UNESCO website, this includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.  This elements include:
  • Traditional, contemporary and living at the same time: intangible cultural heritage does not only represent inherited traditions from the past but also contemporary rural and urban practices in which diverse cultural groups take part.
  • Inclusive: It promotes and contributes to social cohesion, encouraging a sense of identity and responsibility which helps individuals to feel part of one or different communities and to feel part of society at large;
  • Representative: It thrives on its basis in communities and depends on those whose knowledge of traditions, skills and customs are passed on to the rest of the community, from generation to generation, or to other communities;
  • Community-based: It is recognised as such by the communities that create, maintain and transmit it.

Singapore's Intangible Cultural Heritage.(website). Rojak Librarian, posted on March 11, 2018
UNESCO Intangilbe Culture Heritage. (website).

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lee Boon Beck and family (Bukit Brown)

Mr. Lee Boon Beck (1885-1935) came to Malaya 30 years ago and have since been connected with Ho Hong especially in the shipping and oil department. When he passed away on 27th October 1935 at his residence in 53 Tras Street, he was the Manager of Ho Hong Oil Mills. As a mark of respect, the town office and factory of Ho Hong Oil Mills (1931) Ltd was closed on 31st October 1935 as a mark of respect. Lee Boon Beck was survived by a widow (Madam Lim Geok Tin), 3 sons (Lee Teow Lian, Lee Teow Hong, Lee Teow Siong),  7 daughters (Lee Siew Luan, Lee Siew Hong, Lee Siew Leng, Lee Siew Kim, Lee Siew Sian, Lee Siew Gin, Lee Siew Sin), 3 son-in-law (Yeo Tiam Siew, Yeo Hock Beng and Tan Tock Seng) and 7 grandchildren (two names listed at the tomb- Lee Beng Chye, Lee Beng Thuan). Lee Boon Beck is the brother-in-law of Lim Peng Siang, J.P

Madam Lim Geok Tin nee Mrs. Lee Boon Beck passed away at the age of 59 at her residence in No. 17 Ceylon Road on 26th July 1952 leaving behind 3 sons (Lee Teow Lian, Lee Teow Hong, Lee Teow Siong), 1 daughter-in-law, 7 daughters (Lee Siew Luan, Lee Siew Hong, Lee Siew Leng, Lee Siew Kim, Lee Siew Sian, Lee Siew Gin, Lee Siew Sin) , 5 son-in-law (Yeo Tiam Siew, Yeo Hock Beng, Yeo Chiang Hai, Kng Hwa Eng and Tan Tock Seng) and 21 grandchildren. Lim Geok Tin is a sister of Lim Peng Siang. 

Tomb of Lee Boon Beck 

Tomb of Madam Lim Geok Tin

Children and grandchilren of Lee Boon Beck 
Lee Boon Beck and Lim Geok Tin are buried in Hill 4 Division A, plot 382 and 389.


Son: Lee Teow Lian
There was an engagement notice between Lee Teow Lian and Miss Chia Choo See (younger daughter of Mr and Mrs. Chia Kim Siong) on 10 June 1946

Daughter: Lee Siew Gin
There was an engagement notice between Kng Hwa Eng (son of  Mrs. Kng Har Wen and the late Mr. Kng Har Wen) with Miss Lee Siew Gin on August 9, 2604 (1944).

[research on-going]


Death. (1935, October 30). Malayan Tribune, page 12
Death. (1935, October 30). The Straits Times, page 2
Advertisment. (1944, August 11). Syonan Shimbun, page 2
Death. (1952, July 27). The Straits Times, page 10

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Wee Peck Hay nee Mrs. Lim Nee Soon (S.S. Kuala victim)

The family cluster of Lim Nee Soon in Hill 4 Division B, has been always enthralling to me as there are many stories one can tell from tomb cluster of Madam Wee Pek Hay (Mrs. Lim Nee Soon), Lim Chong Kuo, Lim Chong Pang and his wife, Lee Poh Neo. We know for a fact that Mr. Lim Nee Soon was not buried in Bukit Brown but in Nanking, China and that the tomb of his wife, Madam Wee Pek Hay is an empty tomb because she was lost at sea, one of the many victims of the tragic sinking of S.S. Kuala during the chaotic evacuation of  military and civilians in the last days before the fall of Singapore on 13th February 1942. She was however, not the only family member of Lim Nee Soon's family who was lost at sea on that day. I came across this advertisement in the The Argus and The Courier-Mail (both Australian newspapers) put up by Mr. Lim Chong Pang seeking news on the whereabouts of his mother; Mrs. Lim Nee Soon nee Wipekhay and his sister, Miss Lim Seok Geck.

Family photograph of Lim Nee Soon and Wee Peck Hay in the 1930s (source: National Archives)

1945 advertisement in Australia
From oral records and research efforts by others, i now know that there were other family member's of Lim Nee Soon's family who also died.  Other than Wee Peck Hay, her daughter, Miss Lim Seok Geck went missing on that ill fated day. Miss Lim Seok Geck was the youngest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Lim Nee Soon, and therefore sister to Lim Choong Pang. According to the Lim genealogy , Lim Seok Geck was born at No. 56/57 Robinson Road [subsequently renumbered as 112/114 Robinson road] on 22nd December 1921. She was only 21 years old when she died on the ill fated day. Another name from the blog which compiled the list of casualties of S.S. Kuala that caught my attention was Madam Chua Chit Nya (wife of Mr. Lim Chong Min and daughter of Mr. Chua Guan Chui ) and their 3 children. This means that her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren also died in the sinking of S.S Kuala.  From the article below we can see how Chua Chit Nya looks like where Miss Chua Chit Nya married Mr Lim Chong Min (Lim Chong Meng 林忠民), youngest son of Mr and Mrs Lim Nee Soon in September 19, 1931 at the Garden Club, Tanah Merah. The best man was Mr. Ong Swee Kee and bridesmaid was Miss Lim Soo Geck, sister of the bridegroom.

Lim Chong Min and Miss Chua Chit Nya
(source: NewspaperSG)

Empty tomb of Mrs Lim Nee Soon nee Wi Pek Hay (Wee Pek Hay)
On the tomb of Madam Wee Peck Hay, the name of the children engraved are sons; Lim Chong Kuo, Lim Chong Pang, Lim Chong Min, Lim Chong Hsien, daughters; Lim Chit Geck, Lim Kheng Geck, Lim Soo Geck, Lim Mui Geck, Lim Leck Geck, Lim Seok Geck.

Sinking of S.S. Kuala

From what i can gather from the various online sources compiled by researchers and heritage enthusiast, an estimated 650-700 people boarded the S.S Kuala. There was no passenger list but there were evacuation permits given to prominent Europeans and Asians to board S.S Kuala and S.S. Tien Kwang.(S.S. Tien Kwang suffered the same faith as well). From what was gathered, only an estimated 300 ( this includes those women and men who ended up as internees or POWs in Sumatra, Java and Singapore). This means that at least 150 people were killed as a result of the bombing and drowning at Pom Pong Island on 14th February 1942 and almost 200 lost their lives at sea when the rescue ship “SS. Tanjong Pinang”, which had earlier picked up some of the survivors from Pom Pong Island, was sunk by the Japanese on 17 February 1942.
S.S. Kuala
Among the survivors that were rescued from the sinking of S.S. Kuala was Lim Chong Pang and his story was well recorded on how he was among the few  survivors picked by fisherman, Tay Ah Soey. A comprehensive list of passengers that was meticulously compiled over the years on who are the survivors and in attempting to established who died can be retrieved online.


Tan Ah Ngoh, B.E.M. (British Empire Medal recipient in 1949) was decorated at Government House for his efforts in organising a rescue party of 4 fishing boats and his with his 6 friends, picking up over 40 people who were drifting out at sea, clinging to planks and floating baggage.

Tan Ah Ngoh (source: NewspaperSG)
Tay Ah Soey received the B.E.M. (British Empire Medal) in 20 December 1952 in a simple ceremony by the then Governor, J.F. Nicoll at Government House. Tay Ah Soey picked up 62 people in his sampan including Lim Chong Pang. Tay Ah Soey passed away at the age of 97 on August 2011.
Tay Ah Soey receiving the British Empire Medal (source: NewspaperSG)

Tay Ah Soey

[research on-going]

Advertising. (1945, November 24).The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957)  p 20
Advertising. (1945, December 26).The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954) p 6
Award for 1942 rescue hero. (1949, May 25). The Straits Times, page 7
22 get medals from Governor. (1952, December 21). The Straits Times, page 2
WWII hero dies at age 97. (2011, August 10). The Straits Times, page 10
Malayan Volunteers. (website)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Madam Lim Saw Gnoh Neoh nee Mrs. Saw Whee Eang (Bukit Brown)

Madam Lim Saw Gnoh Neoh passed away at the age of 34 on 1st January 1926. Listed on her tomb are the name of her children. (sons: Saw Chee Teong, Saw Chee Liat, Saw Chee Toe, Saw Chee Hye and daughters: Saw Seok Eng, Saw Seok Kee). She is buried in Hill 1 Division B, plot 158.

Madam Lim Saw Gnoh Neoh nee Mrs. Saw Whee Eang 

From the name of the children, i managed to establish the name of her husband as well and found his obituary notice. Mr. Saw Whee Eang passed away at the age of 54 on 7 May 1935 at 41, Tras Street. He is survived by his widow (name not mentioned), four sons ( Saw Chee Teong, Saw Chee Liat, Saw Chee Toe, Saw Chee Hye), 2 daughters (Saw Seok Eng, Saw Seok Kee) , one son-in-law (Yeoh Cheang How) and 1 grand-daughter. Saw Whee Eang is buried in Bukit Brown, Block 3 Division A, plot 264, 248.

Penang Chinese Union

The Penang Chinese Union Singapore was registered under the Societies Ordinance in 1920. Among its members in 1921 are Mr. Loke Yew Bee (President), Yeoh Cheow Beng, Khoo Siew Jin (Vice-Presidents), Law Yew San (Hon. Secretary), Chun Teong Chai (Asst. secretary), Saw Whee Eang (Hon. Secretary), Neoh Say Eng (Hon. Auditor), Cheah Kong Ee, Cheah Beng Cheang, Tan Chong Chew, Tan Chong Teck, Lim Mah Seang and Lian Kim Siew. It's premises was at 15 Cross Street. From what i can gather, members made of people with close ties to Penang.(by birth, parentage or marriage). Among its patron included Dr. Wu Lien Teh (Dr. Gnoh Lean Tuck). I can only find information of the Penang Chinese Union up to 1929. What happen to it beyond that?

source: NewspaperSG


Son: Saw Chee Teong
When his father, Saw Whee Eang passed away, Saw Chee Teong and Khoo Cheng Kim were the executor and trustee of his will. Saw Chee Teong passed away on 11th September 1945. The executor of his estates were Oh Phaik Yong and Saw Chee Toe.

Daughter: Saw Seok Kee
There was an engagement notice between Miss Saw Seok Kee (daughter of the late Mr. Saw Whee Eang and Mrs Saw Whee Eang) and Mr. Seet Tiong Hean (second son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Seet Cheng Lin.

Son-in-law: Yeo Cheang How
Yeo Cheang How's parents, Yeow Cheow Beng are also buried in Bukit Brown

Untitled. (1920, April 2). The Singapore Free Press, page 12
Untitled. (1921, March 16). The Straits Times, page 8
Domestic Occurences. (1935, May 8). Malayan Tribune, page 10
Advertisement. (1943, March 20). Syonan Shimbun, page 2

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Madam Lee Tuan Neo nee Mrs. Chua Choo Seng (Bukit Brown)

While checking out the tombs along Block 1, Division B (the section most accessible from Bukit Brown Wayfinder marker), a darken marble tombstone caught my attention. I took a picture and the name of the person who was buried there, Madam Lee Tuan Neo  (Mrs Chua Choo Seng) who died at the age of 72 years on 5th June 1942 was vaguely familiar. After checking, i finally recalled finding the tomb of her husband, Mr. Chua Choo Seng in Hill 4, Division A back in 2017. Unfortunately for Madam Lee Tuan Neo, the tomb shoulder which usually contains the name of the children were no longer there, thereby if this tomb was your starting point to try to match a family tree, it will be difficult to directly match their relationship.

Madam Lee Tuan Neo nee Mrs Chua Choo Seng 

Inferences made in my conclusion of relationship

1. Date of Death and Notice
Mr. Chua Choo Seng passed away at the age of 75 on 19th February 1941 and is survived by his wife, 3 sons; Chua Chwee Guan, Chua Leong Hean and Chua Chwee Lim, 2 daughters (Chua Guek Neo, Chua Chwee Neo), 1 son-in-law, Lim Siew Teng, 1 grandson-in-law, Jack Ching Koh Guan, 1 granddaughter-in-law, Mrs. Chua Bay Lee and several grandchildren and several great grandchildren. His residence was listed as No. 105 Everitt Road. The wife in short outlived Mr. Chua Choo Seng by slightly more than a year (she passed away on 5th June 1942). Madam Lee Tuan Neo was also 72 years old when she died, very close to Chua Choo Seng age of 75.

2. Design of tombs
The design of both tombs were very much the same as you can see from both pictures. The only difference is although Madam Lee Tuan Neo's tomb at Block 1, Division B, plot 22 was erected much later, its condition is far worst of compared to Mr. Chua Choo Seng's tomb in Hill 4 Division A

Mr. Chua Choo Seng 

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Y. Shibuya (Japanese Cemetery Singapore)

The Japanese Cemetery Park at 22 Chuan Hoe Avenue was established in 1891 to serve the burial needs of Japanese residents in Singapore. Touted to be the largest at 30,000 sq m in Southeast Asia, the site measures 30,000 sq m, it has an estimated 910 tombstones. Among those buried here include businessman, tradesman, prostitutes as well a the war dead from World War II. The cemetery was closed to burials in 1973 and in 1987 renamed the Japanese Cemetery Park, which is now a memorial park managed by the Japanese Association of Singapore.

While exploring the cemetery, a marble obelisk caught my eye as it as contains the portrait of the deceased and also was written in English. Inscribed are the text,  " In memory of Y. Shibuya died 12th March 1906 (Jap. 39 years Meiji) Aged 50  erected by Natsu Shohji and T. Shibuya ".

Beautiful marble obelisk of Y. Shibuya

Close up of the portrait of Y. Shibuya 
So who was Y.Shibuya who passed away in 1906 at the age of 50? A search on the newspaper archives came up with a namesake company that was based at No. 40 High Street. There were several advertisements put up during the 1899-1904 by Y.Shibuya, a merchant based in High Street selling high class Japanese Curios and General Goods such as Yamatoya's Shirts, Imported Japanese products such as Kimonos, Vases, Satsuma wares, tea and coffee cups, Yutakaori Carpets, Arima Water (natural mineral water) and Bamboo Blinds.  From the portrait, i can imagine Y.Shibuya wearing the product he sold, the finest of Yamatoya's shirt (as shown below) 

Y. Shibuya & Co (source: NewspaperSG

Y. Shibuya & Co (source: NewspaperSG

Y. Shibuya & Co (source: NewspaperSG)

Death and Bankruptcy 

Y. Shibuya passed away in 1906.  His goods were put on public auction on 6th April 1906 and 12th April 1906. In 1909 there was a bankruptcy notice put up to allow creditors to claim from Y. Shibuya sale of assets. 

Bankruptcy Settlement (source: NewspaperSG)
While trying to find leads on the people who help erect the tomb (Natsu Shohji and T. Shibuya), i only found record of a T. Shibuya arriving Singapore on July 20, 1914 from Yokohama via the vessel called Kitano Maru. The lead ends for now.

[research on-going]

Japanese Cemetery Park. Infopedia Website. National Library Board (last accessed 8 August 2018)
Advertisements. (1899, August 29). The Straits Times, page 1
Advertisements. (1902, March 6). The Straits Times, page 1
Advertisements. (1904, November 12). The Straits Times, page 10
Advertisements. (1906, April 2). The Straits Times, page 2
Advertisements. (1909, July 17). The Straits Times, page 2

Monday, August 06, 2018

Ang Chong Beng (Lao Sua)

In memory of the late Ang Chong Beng who died on 13.10.1921. The simple granite stone held up by bricks tomb was erected by P.S.P.A. The acronym was what caught my attention. The only article i could find which mentions Ang Chong Beng during that period of time is one where he was a member of the Chinese Fraternal Union. From what i am aware there were in the past, many mutual aid associations to take care of their members interest especially in times of difficulty or for support in their funeral arrangement and expenses. Crowd sourcing for more information, the name of  province and village, 同安英村 Tong'an, Fujian (village) came out. What does P.S.P.A stands for ? The mystery remains to be solved.