Monastery in Toa Payoh launches tome to commemorate its 120th anniversary

The collection, comprising two volumes which record the cultural as well as the architectural history of the monastery , was penned by an editorial committee of 27 writers.
The collection, comprising two volumes which record the cultural as well as the architectural history of the monastery , was penned by an editorial committee of 27 writers.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A compendium commemorating the 120th anniversary of Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery in Toa Payoh was launched at its Virtue Hall on Monday (Dec 31).

The collection, comprising two volumes which record the cultural as well as the architectural history of the monastery , was penned by an editorial committee of 27 writers. They included local and overseas authors, historical researchers, university professors and experts in various subjects such as Chinese history, architecture, urban planning and archaeology.

The compendium, which also contains archival photos, newspaper clippings and old architectural drawings, details the growth of the monastery and its historical significance in Singapore since it was founded in 1898 by a Hokkien businessman, Low Kim Pong.

Retired journalist Toh Lam Huat was the editor for the 452-pagevolume on cultural history while Yeo Kang Shua, an associate professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, helmed the 340-page volume on architectural history. Mr Toh was also the overall coordinator for the publication.

The planning for the compendium started in mid-2017 and the two volumes were published in December this year. The entire project, which cost about $100,000, was sponsored by Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia, a religious charitable organisation.

Some of the 1,500 copies printed were gifted to attendees of the launch. Theyincluded former minister Mah Bow Tan, members of the editorial committee, members of the business community who have made donations to the monastery, as well as temple volunteers.

Dr Yeo said in his speech that he hoped that the various subjects and topics in the publication would pique the interest of professionals from the relevant fields.

 

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who was the guest of honour on Monday, toured the monastery grounds and was presented with a wood carving souvenir by the abbot, Venerable Wai Yim.

Mr Chan said that Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery, in its 120 years of existence, exemplified the Singapore spirit.

Referring to its architecture which incorporates elements from different regions and dialect groups in China, he said: "It is in our DNA, to continuously look for the best ideas and bring them back from the rest of the world to benefit Singaporeans, and in some other small ways, contribute to the world."

"We must always retain this spirit, to learn from the rest of the world, and bring in the best, just as how the architecture of this temple has illustrated to us," he added.

One of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Singapore, Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery was gazetted as a national monument in 1980. The last major restoration works for the monastery started in 1991 and was completed in 2001. The temple received the Architecture Heritage Award from the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 1999.