1. Isn’t it a good thing to destroy a part of Bukit Brown for faster roads & a residential estate? After all, the dead don’t mind and the living will benefit. How much new housing area can be created with the destruction of Bukit Brown?
Err, we’re not sure the dead don’t mind! But even if they don’t, the enormous historical, cultural, environmental value of Bukit Brown far outweighs the benefits of a four-way road that seeks to "bring relief to the increasingly congested Lornie Road" (ST, 20 Nov 2011). We believe that other creative solutions can be found to relieve traffic congestion. Furthermore, there are only 111 cars per 1,000 people* in Singapore. Why should Bukit Brown and so many other precious historical sites make way to serve this small proportion of the population? Destruction is forever.
2. The government has indicated that they will only destroy 5,000 graves. That’s only 5% of Bukit Brown. And they aren’t even the graves of “famous people”. So isn’t that ok?
Famous or ordinary, we want to symbolically honour them all as pioneers of Singapore. And we feel that this proposed destruction of 5% of Bukit Brown in 2012 is merely testing the waters of public opinion. If we do not speak up against it now, one day there will be the eventual & complete destruction of Bukit Brown, and with it, the great value of this shared historical space.
3. There is already some documentation work going on for the graves that will be destroyed. Isn’t that adequate for preserving our memories?
We thank Dr Hui Yew-Foong & his team for doing this back-breaking work of documentation. This should go on even if Bukit Brown is preserved, as the gravestones will eventually become illegible due to wear & tear. However, we believe there is a huge intangible difference between reading about Bukit Brown’s documentation in a book or museum, and having the actual sensory experience of walking in a physical space among the trees and quiet gravestones, reflecting on our shared history and culture. We want this for our children too.
4. Hardly anyone remembered Bukit Brown before the proposed destruction. Now suddenly there’s all this hype. Surely this will all die down (no pun intended)?
In our rush to study, work, earn & just keep up with this frantic pace of life, we have neglected so much of our history and culture. This wake-up call has made many Singaporeans take a trip to Bukit Brown to enjoy the scenary and appreciate its great historical and cultural value. We want to preserve this not just for Singaporeans in 2011, but for generations to come.
5. How feasible is it to preserve Bukit Brown as a heritage park or cemetary park?
We believe it is highly feasible. From Paris to Penang, London to Los Angeles, Montreal to Malacca, and many many more, cemeteries are integral to the living space of many metropolitan areas, serving as parks, heritage sites, and public spaces. Some have more than one cemetery park. If other cities can, why can’t Singapore? Here are some links to cemetery parks in cities around the world:
- Yanaka Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan
- Aoyama Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan
- Bukit Cina, Melaka, Malaysia
- Protestant Cemetery, Penang, Malaysia
- Los Angeles, California, USA – CemeteryTour.com, Cemetery Tours: Who's Who of Hollywood
- San Francisco, California, USA
- Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
- Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Atlanta, Georgia, USA
- Washington, DC, USA
- Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
- Berlin, Germany – Cemetery Berlin, List of Cemeteries in Berlin
- Moscow, Russia
- Vienna, Austria – Central Cemetery (Zentralfried), Touring Cemeteries of Vienna
- Beijing, China
- St. Petersburg, Russia
- The French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA – New Orleans Cemeteries, Cemetries of New Orleans, Chalmette National Cemetery
- Hong Kong (Happy Valley) Cemetery, Hong Kong – Find a Grave, Hong Kong Cemetery