Saturday, March 31, 2012

Introducing Mdm Qiu, my Great Great Great Grand Mother!

Having cleared many of the vines and saplings that encase and cover and surround the "Lim Trio" tombs at Bukit Brown Cemetery, there was enough light to take clearer photographs. This is the tombstone of Lim Mah Peng, grandfather of Lim Boon Keng (Lim Mah Peng is my great great great grandfather).

Just the other day my friends of Bukit Brown helped me to decipher the inscription on the tombstone of Mdm Su (Boon Keng's mother): These same people had this to say of this tombstone

  • Chengmin Wang Posthumous name 林寿民 Hanyu Pinyin Lin Shou Min. Living name 邱慈慎。 Hanyu Pinyin Qiu Ci Shen.

  • Lim Su Min 林蘇民 ‎ sounds like two different surnames? husband & wife??

  • Khoo Ee Hoon Lin Shou Min is the posthumous name of Lim Mah Peng and Qiu Ci Shen is the maiden name of wife. Qiu is Khoo.

  • Lim Su Min 林蘇民 AHA! So the triple set is actually a quadraple set?? Ah Mah and Ah Kong and Ma and Pa of Lim Boon Keng?

  • Khoo Ee Hoon Yes. Parents and grand parents of Lim Boon Keng.

    So  the Tomb is a double tomb, the Trio is actually a Quad,
     and I realize I have found Mdm Qiu  (邱 = Khoo)
    my Great Great Great Grand Mother!
     慈慎 Ci Shen is her post-humous name.
    She is the 7th direct ancestor of mine I have located at Bukit Brown:
    [The others being....
    Tan Kim Ching (son of Tan Tock Seng)
    Tan Boo Liat (grandson of Tan Kim Ching): Boo Liat is my mum's grandfather.
    Yeo Buay Neo (Mrs Seow Chye Watt), mother of Seow Poh Leng my maternal grandfather)
    Lim Mah Peng
    Lim Thean Geow
    Mdm Su (Mrs Lim Thean Geow)]

    I know she was from Penang:
    Mah Peng got married in Penang:
    They had a son Thean Gow
    and with the young son the family migrated to Singapore.

    For Great Great Great Grand Lim Mah Peng, his posthumous name 林寿民  Lin Shou Min.

    My head count: I have found 17 relatives at Bukit Brown.

  • Friday, March 30, 2012

    Mdm Sū Xiào Shèn, ( 蘇孝慎) my Great Great Grand Mother

    A visit to Great Great Grand Mother's Tomb.
    Finding out her name
    and a serenade.
    What a day!

    Leading a  team from CCTV that is planning to film a documentary in 2 months time:
    we  went to Outram Park today:
    Tomb of Tan Tock Seng,

    Joint tomb of his daughter in law- Md Chua, wife of Tan Kim Ching,
     and  her daughter in law Mdm  Wuying, wife of Tan Soon Toh.
    We paid our respects : I brought carnations for everyone to lay down: 
    Mr Zhou brought apples, oranges and joss sticks.

    Then at Bukit Brown we  passed by Tan Chor Lam & Yeo Buay Neo, 
    and visited Tan Kim Ching,

    At Tan Kim Ching Tomb

    Cheang Hong Lim (who employed Lim Mah Peng and Lim Thean Geow in his Spirits trade), 
    Tan Boo Liat, 
    and the Lim Trio:
    Mr Lim Mah Peng, [ my great great great grandfather, and  grandfather of Lim Boon Keng]
    Mr & Mrs Lim Thean Gow, parents of Lim Boon Keng.

    I took a  picture of the tomb inscription of Mdm Soo aka Mrs Lim Thean Geow (aka mother of Lim Boon Keng) for deciphering:
    My friends at Singapore Heritage Bukit Brown Cemetery taught me how to read my great great grand mother's name on the tomb (mother of Lim Boon Keng)

    Sū  Xiào Shèn    孝慎

    xiào shènlínmén sū rén

    Surname(last name):  sū 
    First Name: 孝慎 xiào shèn

    Xiao Shen in Hokkien is pronouce as "Hao Sheem"
    xiào - hao4 (filial piety, obedience; mourning)
    shèn - sim3 (act with care, be cautious)

    The name however is an honorific posthumous name:

  • Darrell Tan it's a posthumous name tho

  • Khoo Ee Hoon Darrell Tan, how did you know this name is posthumous. How do we tell if the name is posthumous if we do not have their actual name in the first place, can anyone enlighten me on this?

  • Jennifer Teo It says 'wei' above the 'xiao' word.

  • Khoo Ee Hoon So this 'wei' means its posthumous?

  • Char Lee I may be wrong, but the character is not 'wei' but 'shi' - 谥. In that case, it means posthumous name which explains why it sounds so funny in Hokkien.

  • Jennifer Teo Oh really? I can't really see it.

  • Char Lee note many of the posthumous name (谥号) for empress starts with 孝. e.g. Empress Chun of Emperor Qianlong is posthumously titled 孝贤

  • Goh Kiasu Yup, Char Lee is rite ;)

  • Jennifer Teo Oh, I didn't know this. Thanks!

  • Char Lee wah .. so at the end of the day, her personal name is not reflected on the tomb?!
  • Khoo Ee Hoon 谥号shì hào

    1. 古代帝王或大官死后评给的称号:~号。~法。~宝(帝王陵墓中,刻有帝后谥号的印玺)。

    2. 叫作,称为:“身死无名,~为至愚”。

  • 林門 (lín mén) - Married into the Lin family
    孺人(rú rén) - Commonly refering to "wife of". During the Ming dynasty and the Ching dynasty they also refer to wife of seventh ranking officials.

    At each of these we paid our respects : 
    I brought carnations for everyone to lay down: 
    Mr Zhou brought apples, oranges and joss sticks.

    At the Lim trio I pulled out my ukulele and sang three songs by the Lim trio tombs
    Amazing grace in English,
    Psalm 23 in Chinese
    and Love is Patient. 爱的真谛

    Amazing grace how sweet the sound
    that saved a wretch like me
    I one was blind but now am found
    was blind but now I see

    Psalms 23
    耶 和 华 是 我 的 牧 者 ,
     我 必 不 至 缺 乏 。
     他 使 我 躺 卧 在 青 草 地 上 ,
    领 我 在 可 安 歇 的 水 边 。
     他 使 我 的 灵 魂 甦 醒 , 
    为 自 己 的 名 引 导 我 走 义 路 。     
    为 自 己 的 名 引 导 我 走 义 路 。
     引 导 我 走 义 路 。
    我 虽 然 行 过 死 荫 的 幽 谷 ,
     也 不 怕 遭 害 , 因 为 你
     与 我 同 在 ;你 的 杖 ,
     你 的 竿 , 都 安 慰 我 。
     在 我 敌 人 面 前 , 你 为 我 摆 设 筵 席 ;
     你 用 油 膏 了 我 的 头 , 使 我 的 福 杯 满 溢 。
    我 的 福 杯 满 溢 。
    我 一 生 一 世 , 我 一 生 一 世
    恩 惠 , 必 恩 惠, 
     慈 爱 随 着 我 ;我 一 生 一 世 , 
    我 一 生 一 世必 恩 惠 , 
    慈 爱 随 着 我 ; 慈 爱 随 着 我
     我 且 要 住 在 耶 和 华 的 殿 中 ,
     我 且 要 住 在 耶 和 华 的 殿 中 , 
    直 到 永 远 。

    爱是恒久忍耐,   又有恩慈, 爱是不嫉妒,
    Ài shì héngjiǔ rěnnài,  yòu yǒu ēn cí,   ài shìbu jídù.
    爱是不自夸, 不张狂,       不作害羞的事.
    ài shìbu zìkuā,     bù zhāngkuáng,    bù zuò hàixiū de shì.
    不求自己的益处,不轻易发怒, 不计算人的.恶,
    Bù qiú zìjǐ de yìchu,     bù qīngyì fānù, bù jìsuàn rén de è,
    不喜欢不义, 只喜欢真理.
    bù xǐhuan bùyì, zhǐ xǐhuan zhēnlǐ.
    凡事包容, 凡事相信,   凡事盼望. 
    Fánshì bāoróng, fánshì xiāngxìn,  fánshì pànwàng,
    凡事忍耐, 凡事 要 忍耐,
    fánshì rěnnài,   fánshì yào rěnnài,
    ài shì yǒngbù zhǐxī.

    The last song touched Mr Zhou
    "why did you sing these songs?" he asked.

    I said they were to respect my ancestors.
    He liked the songs.
    He wants me to sing them when he comes to video in June!

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    Respect versus Worship

    My recent interest at Bukit Brown Heritage Park has lead me to learn a lot of things, and I am a better person for it (or at least I think I am!)

    I come from the "English educated quarter" of Singapore with Peranakan Roots. My mother tongue was English and Baba-speak! Shakespeare and Shelley were bosom friends. A smattering of Cantonese for the Black and White "Mah- Cheir". No Hokkien speak (my own dialect group). Mandarin learning at ACS was abysmal (all my fault).

    I had no insight as to how the Chinese educated speak or think, no idea of their religion, belief, world view. It is important for me to learn of such things. How else can there be unity in diversity  as we jostle shoulder to shoulder as one tightly packed community on this little red dot? Friends of Bukit Brown et alia have helped me grow in this area. Slowly by slowly I am imbibing bits of Chinese culture, of the living and of the dead, though Bukit Brown.

    This week I watched a friend being reunited with her Great Great Grand Father at Bukit Brown for the first time. She sat by his side in still and quiet contemplation. It was a moving and touching scene. I was privileged to observe and sketch it.

    A poem in English is inscribed on this tomb:

    This speaks to me of the Christian hope and faith in eternal life.

    I have volunteered to join the Tan family (my mum's upline) at the Qing Ming observance  (清明节)this weekend. This set me thinking... Does a clash of cultures come about at Qing Ming?

    "Ancestor worship" comes to mind as I think of Qing Ming Observances. But is it? Reading between the lines there seems to be a spectrum of cultural vs spiritual, social vs Taoist vs Buddhist interpretation of the event.

    My own Qing Ming background is zilch. As a child my parents and grandparents never brought me to the gravesides for Qing Ming, and nor do I remember them going. I don't know why we didn't. We just didn't.  For no particular reason. We were not church going or Christians at that time.

    But I am now (church going Christian).
    "Honour your father and mother" is one of the ten commandments.
    It does not specify dead or alive, so one can assume it means both.
    So ancestor honoring and respecting is acceptable.

    But where is the line between honoring and worshipping?
    In my mindset the difference come in the answer  to "whom do I turn to for help".

    My dearly departed ancestors: I honor them by coming.
    No kowtow or joss stick for me.
    I would not be asking the ancestors for blessings
    but I certainly I am happy to stand before them
    and offer a prayer for their souls and a flower for their tomb.

    Yesterday I started clearing some of the saplings that had surrounded the tomb of Lim Thean Geow with a saw borrowed from Khoo Ee Hoon.

    Today  I went for another round of bush bashing and cleared it more. Eventually I will get the tomb keepers to maintain the place but for the while it seems right that I do some of the work.

    Me after 2 hours of bush bashing!
    Tomb of Lim Thean Geow
    Father of Lim Boon Keng.

    There was another tomb, 2000 years ago. They had lain the slain Jesus in it. Early on Sunday morning women came to the tomb to anoint His body with spices. But the tomb was empty. He was no longer there. According to Bible record the resurrected Jesus appeared to 12 different groups of people (group size 1 to 500). We believe that this is proof that Jesus has conquered sin and death, and validates His offer to us of the gift of eternal life just by faith (trust) in Him. I pray that you will have a blessed Resurrection Sunday.

    Lighting a candle

    Sunday mornings at Bukit Brown is generally a no go for me as I am in church. But I felt compelled to go after the 930 am service today (25th March 2012) , skipping choir practice and telling myself that this would be the rare exception. Part of the motivation was the idea of lighting a candle at this the last tour before our QM (Qing Ming) recess.

    Finding a tour mid-stream is a bit of a needle in a haystack, and the few phone numbers I had were not connecting: But another friend of Bukit Brown knew some other numbers and soon I was at the "Naked Angel" tomb.

    The usual suspects were waxing lyrical and the participants spell bound: Irena (reporting for the  Economist) was whirring a video camera: I sketched.

    There were two more stops then the party was over.
    Sort of.
    But it never is at Bukit Brown, is it!

    Raymond Goh had a tip off from one of the tomb keepers.  Mr Chua, aged 90, had pointed out the place where mass graves were dug. He was 9 and it left a deep impression. He was warned repeatedly by the family elders not to play there because it was "dirty" (i.e. with dark spiritual forces)  He had witnessed as a 9 year old, during the second word war 1942-1945, the use of a mass grave for civilian bodies. Some 3,000 of them. He was sure of the location and had marked for us with a strip of plastic. Raymond drove us (Ai Lin, Claire Leow, Keng Keat and me). As Raymond got to the spot and parked the car we could see our destination. It was across the valley, beyond the stream, just next to a clump of bright green ferns, pegged and flagged for us.

    We had to go down into the valley and cross the stream via the culvert. Much of the approach was boggy, ponded, soggy, wet, squelchy. We had to circumnavigate through the trees on drier ground. We got there and I sketched. A pair of green pigeons did a flypass for us.

    It looks smack in the middle of the planned 8 lane highway. It may possibly be bridged over. But the bridge will need support and the support my be supported by 3000 bodies???

    This sketch map attempts to portray the location of the boggy mass grave Block 2 division 6, in relation to stream and to steps next to tomb 153.

    A group member wanted to visit Great Great Grand Father. Some one had located the tomb for her. Raymond managed to bring us there. It was a poignant pause and a quiet contemplative moment as there was reconnected to Great Great Grand Father.  I was privileged to witness the family reunification.

    In the end I did not get to light any candles, but my growing portfolio of sketches continue to bring tribute and honor to the  heritage habitat and history of Bukit Brown Heritage Park.

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    How the Ancestry tour went

    We had a fun day today (or at least I had) and I hope the participants enjoyed it too. While Ee Hoon was waiting outside at the main gate as she had announced in the FB  setup, a few of us sneaked in to under the Ole Rain tree.

     I met Angie there and she told me we had met in a previous life. (just kidding). Actually she had previously met me when my dad was master of KE Hall and her husband was a fellow there. Small world.

    Also standing around expectantly was a young man Toh Yong Soon who had the tour on Facebook.

    Toh Yong Soon

    Toh Yong Soon started off by saying that conversion of Bukit Brown to housing was inevitable given the value of housing potential. When we asked for his occupation he said "developer", thus showing us where  his heart lay. Yong Soon said he was tasked to look after the family tombs at Bukit Brown, but one of the grand-aunts tomb was staked!.  There is a story about this aunt and his maternal grandmother when both deceased, appearing to his mother in a dream some time ago: Read my notes in my urban sketch:

    As we chatted with Yong soon more participants trickled in.

    Soon the trickle became a flood (or should I say "pond"?)

    By 9:30 am the crowd was sizable so I started with my summary: Some of the participants had read it off the web: other were happy to have the handout. Before we started moving Angie did a spiel about the habitat.

    We started at Tan Bin Ching and they saw how the wild cinnamon tree had taken over the place. En passant to the next stop we passed the Three Ho's and Keng Kiat whipped out his little red bible and started preaching....

    I ran ahead to Yeo Buay Neo, my Great Grand Mother, 
    and managed this sketch (colored at home)
    After I did the ancestry bit, 
    Keng Kiat shared on tomb structure and Angie on habitat.

    On route to the next family stop we did a bypass to Gan Eng Seng:
    Some found the uphill trek challenging.
    There we got nuggets of history from Keng Kiat, and more Habitat from Angie

    Finally, the triple set of  Mr & Mrs Lim Thean Geow (parents of Lim Boon Keng)  and Lim Mah Peng (grandfather of Lim Boon Keng). Again a hard uphill climb. Then negotiating vines and treelets. Finally we were rewarded. I borrowed a saw from Ee Hoon and managed to clear some of the vines: my own little QM contribution.

    I had fun: co-facilitating a tour with knowledgeable partners from different spheres makes a wider presentation for the participants. Thanks to Khoo Ee Hoon, Keng Kiat and Angie. Today run is a good foretaste of my future "ancestry runs". I also enjoyed doing my 7 sketches! 

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    My Ancestry at Bukit Brown Heritage Park V2.0

    My ancestry at Bukit Brown by Lim Su Min

    The circles are the "residents" and color coded according to generation .

    Ode to my Great Great  Great Grand Father
                (With apologies to Khoo Seok Wan)
    My Great Great Great Grand Father's Tomb!
    I stand before him, silent, in respect and awe.
    His genes embedded in every cell of mine,
    We are bonded though the course of time.
    My Great Great Great Grand Father's Tomb!
    I sit beside him, sunlight streaming through the trees.
    I sense inner warmth and joy sublime:
    Habitat Heritage History entwine.
    My Great Great  Great Grand Father's Tomb!
    The white stakes declare a restless future:
    His eyeless sockets shedding copious tears-
    That eight lane highway: unspoken fears!
    My Great Great Great Grand Father's Tomb!
    "Could you not beg them to let us rest in peace?"
    His silenced tongue in eloquence loudly says :
    His bony hands grasp me in one last fond embrace.
    Notes:   *=  Tomb at Bukit Brown Cemetery
    *Lim Mah Peng..  died 1879  Born in Hai Teng District, Fujian Province, China: first arrived in Penang in 1839. Married a local-born Chinese lady. Their only son was Lim Thean Geow,
    Shortly after his son was born, Mah Peng moved his young family to Singapore to work for Cheang Hong Lim. The elder Lim was a manager in Cheang's liquor business. The family stayed in Telok Ayer Street.
    *Lim Thean Geow died 1881 Thean Geow attended school at Raffles Institution  and  he later also worked for Cheang Hong Lim in his opium business. Died 1881 of Blood poisoning from razor cut. This made his son Boon Keng want to study medicine.
    Lim Boon Keng (b. 18 October 1869, Singapore - d. 1 January 1957, Singapore)  Boon Keng was a third generation Baba (or Peranakan) born in Singapore, the second son of Lim Thean Geow. He was orphaned as a teenager with the death of his father when he was only 16. His mother had died when he was just 10. He was brought up by his grandparents instead He was first educated at the Government Cross Street School, and later at Raffles Institution, becoming the first Chinese to win the Queen's Scholarship in 1887. His scholarship took him to study medicine in Edinburgh University, He graduated in August 1892 with an MB C. M. (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery) gaining first class honours.
    Early 1900s: Opened up the Kiu Su Tong Dispensary, later renamed the Sincere Dispensary at Raffles Place with Dr Murray Robertson and Dr S. C. Yin, his brother-in-law. He relinquished his partnership in 1906 to serve the Manchu government.
    Began the first Chinese rubber enterprise in partnership with Tan Chay Yan. Set up his estate off Yio Chu Kang Road.  He was also Director of several banks including  In 1921, he relinquished these posts in favour of heading up the Amoy (Xiamen) University.
    He strongly advocated the reformation of the Straits Chinese community beginning with his famed queue-cutting campaigns and rallies against opium smoking culminating in the formation of the Khai Eng Soh, "The Opium Refuge", under Dr S. C. Yin in 1906.
    Lim Boon Keng himself was buried at Bidadari:, disintered and his tombstone displayed at the Bidadari Memorial Garden Mount Vernon.
    Boon Keng MRT Station (NE9) is an underground MRT station on the North East Line in Singapore. It is located at Boon Keng Road and Serangoon Road, and near the Whampoa River.
    On the North East Line, it is between Farrer Park and Potong Pasir station.The station was named after Lim Boon Keng, a Chinese doctor of Chinese Peranakan descent. 
    *Cheang Hong Lim:(not related to our family but)  employed Lim Mah Peng and Lim Thean Geow in the opium business. Hong Lim's tomb is near Tan Kim Cheng's tomb.
    Seow Chye Watt was a rice trader: His business brought him frequently to Thailand  He married 
    *Yeo Buay Neo born 1859, died 23 February 1929 aged 70
    *SeowPoh Quee her son’s tomb is below hers.
    Tan Tock Seng's Tomb is at Outram Road  Tock Seng (b. 1798, Malacca, Malaysia - d. 24 February 1850, Singapore) Hokkien merchant, landowner, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Tan started as a humble vegetable seller and rose to become one of Singapore's early Chinese leaders. He was the first Asian to be appointed Justice of the Peace (JP). In 1844, he helped set up a hospital for the poor which now bears his name. Tan died at age 52.
    He has two sons buried at Bukit Brown
    1) * Tan Swee Lim 
    (Swee Lim has a son  *Tan Bin Cheng buried at Bukit Brown)
    1. *Tan Kim Ching Singapore-born Tan Kim Ching (Chinese: 陳金鐘  lived from 1829 to Feb 1892 was the eldest of the three sons of Tan Tock Seng, Kim Ching was consul for Japan, Thailand and Russia,  and a member of the Royal Court of Siam. He was also the first Asian member of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.  After his father, Tan Tock Seng's death, he became the Kapitan China of the Straits Chinese community.
     Tan Kim Ching had a very close relationship with the royal family of Siam and often served as their go-between. In recognising the importance of his role, he was appointed ‘the first Siamese Consul in Singapore’ by King Mongkut in 1863 and in 1885, King Chulalongkorn elevated his title to that of Consul-General. He was bestowed the Royal Title Phraya Astongt Disrarak Siamprajanukulkij. Tan Kim Ching was intrumental is recommending  Anna Leonowens, as teacher for children of King Mongkut of Siam ( King Rama IV)
    Although he was buried in Changi, his grave was transferred to Bukit Brown in 1940.
    Kim Ching had a son Tan Soon Toh Birth: ABT 1853 Death: BEF FEB 1892
    Tan Soon Toh, the eldest son of Tan Kim Cheng. Soon Toh married Wuing Yi Ho, the daughter of Wuing Boon Whatt who according to Song Ong Siang, was the first Chinese in Singapore to practise law. Like his father, Soon Toh was an active leader of the Chinese community. He was also listed in the Singapore General Directory in 1890 as the Vice Consul of Siam holding the title "Khoon Rasada Borirax" Soon Toh' had a son  Tan Boo Liat,  buried at Bukit Brown.
    *Tan Boo Liat was a wealthy Singapore philanthropist. He was the son of Tan Soon Toh, grandson of Tan Kim Ching and great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng. He was educated locally. He was a member of the Singapore Volunteer Infantry and was among the contingent present at King Edward's coronation. He was the head of the Hockien pang in Singapore. He was Chairman of the Pok Chek Kiong Temple's Committee of Management. He was a strong supporter of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and member of the Singapore T'ung Meng Hui along with Lim Boon Keng and Dr. S. C. Yin and a president of the Singapore Kuomintang. He headed the Fukien Protection Fund together with Tan Kah Kee collecting $130,000 during a nine-month campaign.
    He was a trustee of the Anglo-Chinese School's Boarding School, and together with Dr. Lim Boon Keng, Sir Song Ong Siang and a few other Straits-born Chinese leaders, he initiated the Singapore Chinese Girls' School.
    He had a stable of a dozen racehorses. In 1898 his famous horse, Vanitas won the Viceroy's cup in Calcutta, India, the first time that a horse from the Straits Settlements or the Federated Malay States won this trophy, earning Tan Boo Liat $100,000.
    He had strong commecial links to Thailand and was honoured by the King of Thailand, two of the things he had in common with his famous grandfather Tan Kim Ching. In 1920 he was awarded the title Phra Anukul Sayamkich.
    He owned Golden Bell Mansion (built 1901) on Pender Road at the Mount Washington side of Mount Faber, Singapore. Dr. Sun Yat-sen stayed there on 15 December 1911 as did his wife and daughters (February 1912). After Tan Boo Liat's death in Shanghai in 1934 the house was sold. It is currently occupied by the Danish Seaman's Mission.
    From left to right
    Tan Boo Liats’s son  Jubilee Tan Thoon Hor (with medallion)
    Tan Boo Liat’s sister Lilian Tan Luk Neo who married Seow Poh Leng
    Tan Boo Liats’s daughter Polly, 10 yrs in this picture,  later to marry Seow Poh Leng after her aunty Lilian Tan Luck Neo dies.
    Tan Boo Liats sister’s mother inlaw: Mdm Yeo Buay Neo (Mrs Seow Chye Watt), mother of Seow Poh Leng, mother in law of Lilian Tan Luck Neo.
    Tan Boo Liat’s soon Charlie Tan Thoon Lay