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Singapore
 

Hakka tombstones may have to go

Clan association may re-house graves in order to free up space in Holland Close plot

Published on Jun 8, 2014 7:57 AM
 

Some 2,700 mosaic-clad tombstones stand in 65 uniform rows in the middle of a Housing Board estate.

The Shuang Long Shan cemetery has been a prominent feature in Holland Close since it was built in the 1960s.

But it could soon become a thing of the past as the Hakka clan association that owns the patch - about the size of 21/2 football pitches - is considering to re-house the graves in a pagoda.

The idea is to free up space for buildings such as a cultural and social hall for its 2,000 members and the local community.

 
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Background story

Tradition and respect

"... (the association will) always keep the needs of its 2,000 members in mind. We will respect the land our forefathers fought to keep."

YING FO FUI KUN PRESIDENT CHIN SIT YEONG

Welcome respite

"Some people swing by to read a book on our stone chairs, enjoying the breeze under our coconut trees. Although we are near the road and a busy housing estate, sound is filtered out. The space is a respite in a built-up city like ours."

MR LOH KWAN LING, the association's assistant secretary and site supervisor, on preserving the compound, which is popular with both clan members and the public


CLAN HISTORY

The Ying Fo Fui Kun is the oldest Hakka clan association in Singapore.

It was set up in 1822 by founder Liu Runde and started out as a temple in Telok Ayer Street.

Its aim was to provide welfare services and bring together migrants from five counties of the Guangdong province of China.

To meet members' burial demands, the clan purchased 40ha of land in the Holland Village area from the colonial government in 1887.

By the 1960s, however, the state began acquiring Chinese clan burial sites for re-development. As a result, the clan was left with 4.5ha and thousands of graves were exhumed by the Housing Board.

Today, the compound on Commonwealth Lane 9, known as Shuang Long Shan (Twin Dragon Hills), is home to a 127-year-old ancestral hall, 2,700 tombstones and a blue-roofed memorial hall from the 1980s.

Its Telok Ayer premises, which has been rebuilt and restored five times since the 1840s, was declared a National Monument in 1998.

Melody Zaccheus

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