This was forward to local print media on 4 Nov 2011 (fri), and published on the society’s official website:
Preserve Bukit Brown graves: Fellow Singaporeans
The decision to clear Bukit Brown Cemetery and make way for roads and housing development has triggered many discussions and debates.
The Society of Paranormal Investigators (Singapore), a registered society in Singapore and one of our objectives is to promote and foster knowledge exchange in our own research and investigations. This includes not only scientific but also cultural and traditions.
The Bukit Brown Cemetery is one of our usual locations that we often share and introduce to our members on its rich historical values as well as a great learning journey venue to understand Chinese graves.
The Reverend Master Lee Zhiwang, President of Taoist Mission (Singapore), pointed out that “… Preserving it (Bukit Brown Graves) also exercises filial piety to our pioneers.” (Taoist Mission, 1 Nov).
We agree on this and the Ministry of Education has pointed out that education has to be holistic and values driven. In his speech during this year’s MOE Workplan Seminar, Minister for Education Mr Heng Swee Kiat had put forward that values and character development at the core of our education system and we need moral values, such as respect, responsibility, care and appreciation towards others, to guide each of us to be a socially responsible person. Filial piety, sense of gratitude and together with appreciating our own rich heritage should be part of our values. While we educate our young, let’s not forget that we as adults and the nation at large should also set a good example. Preserving the graves is also an act of what the Chinese would say “Yin Shui Si Yuan” 饮水思源. – While we enjoy the fruit of success, be thankful and do not forget the source.
As many other readers have pointed out, many distinguish Singapore pioneers are buried in Bukit Brown. Our roads are named after them and their individual grave each tells a different story and collectively they all form our very own Singapore Story. Thus Bukit Brown has great educational value to our future generation.
In response to Taoist Mission’s letter, another reader, Mr Daniel Chia, wrote in his letter to ST Forum “Cemetery should make way for the living” (3 Nov), that that filial piety should be exercised when the parents are still alive and not only when they passed away. We believed he could have misunderstood the concept of filial piety.
In Chinese traditions, filial piety is to be carried out all the time, when our parents are still alive and even when they passed on, they are remembered and revered through many Chinese traditions, e.g Ancestor worship, Qing Ming Festival and the 7th Month Festival.
We understand land is precious in Singapore; chances of preserving whole of Bukit Brown are slimed, but we still will like to urge the authorities besides documenting Bukit Brown, to consider preserving part of Bukit Brown or identifying distinguished pioneers’ graves and relocate them.
While having a virtual Bukit Brown Cemetery may be a good idea, it will still be a great pity if the actual monuments and historical artefacts are gone. Many people think that Singapore has little history but what we are removing now physically is history. It is certainly not a small part of Singapore’s history but a major part. The pioneers have done a lot in building our nation and Bukit Brown is their final resting place. Let show our respect and gratitude to them by continuing to allow them to rest undisturbed and future generations can still visit them, to understand our Singapore Story.
Vice – President, Head of Dept of Historical Research
The Society of Paranormal Investigators (Singapore)