The key words – Conservation, Heritage, History, Preservation and Conservation versus GDP Growth, country’s growth and expansion, building new infrastructure and housing development. Which comes first ? Which should have first priority ? This golden debate is not just peculiar to us in Singapore, it is probably happening worldwide too.
From my previous short summary post on History, Heritage, Preservation and Conservation, I mentioned briefly about Bukit Brown inside my post and recently on 24th December 2011, I went for Nature Society (Singapore) Public Walk at Bukit Brown and started to get myself more involved and understanding behind and within the roots of Saving Bukit Brown, it goes beyond the key words of Conservation, Heritage, Preservation and Conservation.
With a rising population in a limited and small land space Singapore, a thirst for more cars and expected heavier traffic, Bukit Brown Cemetery was slated for re-development, not just for roads, it’s also being planned for housing development too. This caused quite a stir too, with people stepping up to write, share and document down. This cemetery is iconic because of Singapore’s early pioneers, who helped to build up Singapore’s economy and society, some of them were buried there. Removing them is like tearing what builds up Singapore in the first place, way before independence during the British Colonial days. There is a public outcry and there are civic groups activities, social causes, social movement, sharing and telling, to Save Bukit Brown.
Saving Bukit Brown is also the time to learn more about our culture, heritage and history, we can do so much more in this few areas, it was an eye-opener for me, a reminder to myself, we must always keep on learning and never stop learning, in one area, learning from the forefathers of Singapore, with their entrepreneurship, philanthropy and giving it back to society is something so precious that no amount of monetary value can be placed on it and many of them are there at Bukit Brown.
There is also a thought that came to my mind regarding Bukit Brown – some of the graves / tombstones are neglected, some are abandoned, not visited by their future (current) generations. I hope that with the Saving Bukit Brown movement, this would be able to invoke feelings, filal piety and gratitude, to help families reconnect with their ancestors buried there at Bukit Brown.
When I was talking to my big auntie (my mum’s eldest sister-in-law) from my mother’s family side on my recent photojournalistic adventures, I realised that I have ancestors buried in Bukit Brown that I never knew about! They are from my Maternal Grandfather family tree line
– My maternal grandfather ~ 3 elder brothers
– My maternal grandfather’s parents ~ My 2 Great-Grandmothers and Great-Grandfather
My case study would be an example of how the family tree and information were not passed down to the future/current generations, something probably lacking in extended family traditions nowadays, instead of finding excuses and laying blame, I would be working on chatting more with my eldest auntie to get more information and details from her on the tombstones/graves locations, something that she doesn’t have detailed information on. From then on, I would try to recce and locate the tombstones, find back my uncles, aunties and cousins, hope to be able to bring them all together and pay respects to our ancestors, along with supporting the movement of Saving Bukit Brown.
You can do a part too, support the movements to preserve and save Bukit Brown, follow them on these 2 sites on Facebook
You can also Sign the Petition – Save Bukit Brown, Save Our Singapore
However, with the inevitable quest and thirst for more land, space and housing, where does the balance lies ? This is a question that is not a million dollar question as some people would put it, there might be no answer that fits everybody.