Thursday, May 02, 2013

Singapore Teochew Memorial Park [新加坡潮州公墓] - A Cemetery for Over 20,000 Unclaimed Remains @ Yishun

Similar to a lot of places in Singapore, the town where i stay was the subject of numerous ghost stories when i was studying in the neighbourhood schools. 

However, mentioned the existence of a columbarium in Yishun (not Mandai) and you would likely draw blanks from many of my fellow classmates.

I am going to leave the columbarium for another day as my focus today is on this memorial park (circled in red) next to the columbarium. What's so interesting about it? Well, you would know shortly.

Before Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School was built, my apartment has a direct view of the memorial park and strangely (and shamefully) enough, i never gave much thought about it and didn't know anything of its history.

An incident six years ago piqued my curiousity but even then, the first time i stepped foot into the memorial park was only two weeks ago. Want to guess how long it took me to walk from my house to the park?

Five minutes. 

A bit of history about this memorial park. In the 1950s, a number of Teochew cemeteries in Outram and Orchard were acquired for redevelopment. Ngee Ann Kongsi, the company managing those cemeteries, decided to relocate the unclaimed remains to Guang De Shan (广德山); the cemetery in Yishun where the memorial park stands now.

It's true after-all; Yishun was really a cemetery! 

The iconic memorial plaque that seriously looks like a super-sized tombstone was first erected back in 1953 before undergoing renovation in 1962 and again in 1986. 

Elaborate praying ceremonies and rituals were held annually to remember these unknown Teochew pioneers, although on most days, you would be lucky to see anyone in the vicinity. 


To the back of the plaque was a small altar facing a large patch of greenery. Notice the latch on what seemed like a metal door? I was so tempted to open it and take a peek! 


Living next or near to a cemetery is taboo for Chinese yet i am aware that Chinese cemeteries are also known to have fantastic Feng Shui in order to ensure a good life (in this respect, it would usually mean prosperity, wealth and good luck) for descendants of the deceased. By aligning to this concept, i am actually trying my best to comfort myself for living so close! 

I am not the closest by the way! Residents of block 123 have a much clearer view of the memorial park than me. Going back to my previous concept, those residents would also have a much better life than me! 

This is the Yishun Columbarium to the left of the park. Unfortunately, i could not afford the time to explore its surrounding that day.

追思先人 - four simple Chinese characters that hold a strong meaning to all Singaporeans. Without the contribution of pioneers, regardless of race, Singapore would not be what she is today. For that, they deserve our utmost respect and a space in our memory. 

Question time! The memorial park is not big so how could it house over 20,000 unclaimed remains? The answer shall be revealed in another entry. A teaser - this is related to the incident six years ago. 

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Location
As above [red star].

12 comments:

  1. Many thanks for yr informative posting. I rode the trains and pass the site each weekday morning when I worked for an MNC in Yishun .. seeing it as a memorial/ columbarium but not knowing the history behind it. Ahh! there's part 2 :)

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    1. there would be two more parts but they would be shorter! nonetheless, i hope you would enjoy them as well. :)

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  2. behind the metal door, it is urns of ashes. ...

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  3. Great job Cavin! I didn't know. Let me share my YouTube video about Mandai Teochew Cemetary which is no more around. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzjXQ1mlMnc

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    1. Thanks! It's a pity i only took a few pictures of the Kwong Hou Sua before it was entirely exhumed to make way as a new train depot.

      You may find them @ http://cavinteo.blogspot.sg/2006/08/cemeteries-expedition-chinese-cemetery.html. Thanks for the video link!

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  4. i stayed around this place in 60s and 70s

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    1. interesting!! any photos / stories to share? :)

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  5. is the Singapore Teochew Memorial Park [新加坡潮州公墓] opens to the public. tx

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    Replies
    1. No one stopped me when i visited although i did notice the gate is locked sometimes.

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