Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tan Tock Seng clan's grave undertaking

Today, there was an article in the Straits Times that reported that the family of the late Tan Tock Seng will be giving a facelift to his tombstone.

Tan Tock Seng's final resting place is situated along Outram Road, just at the edge of the Tiong Bahru Estate and I've blogged about it before. Here's a link to my previous post :
Tan Tock Seng.

I am glad the article shed some light on the indentities of the owners of 2 other tombs that are situated near Tan Tock Seng's tomb.

Read more about it in the Straits Times Article :

The Straits Times
Aug 2, 2009
By Jamie Ee Wen Wei
Mr Roney Tan, a fifth-generation descendant of Tan Tock Seng, sweeping away twigs on the Singaporean pioneer's grave. The family has set up a fund to maintain the grave and those of other ancestors. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

Concerted effort to keep site in good condition and preserve memory of Singapore's pioneer

You have heard of Tan Tock Seng Hospital but do you know where his grave is?

The answer is Outram, and the 159-year-old grave of the Singapore pioneer will be getting a facelift starting next week.

The family of the late businessman-philanthropist and founder of the hospital that bears his name has hired professionals to give the moss-covered tombstone a scrub according to Chinese customary rites.

The red Chinese characters engraved on the tomb will get a new coat of paint.

Mr Roney Tan, 62, a fifth-generation descendant, told The Sunday Times that family members recently pooled money to set up a fund to maintain the grave.

It is on a hill overlooking Outram Road.

The fund of 'a few thousand dollars' will also pay for the upkeep of graves of other family members like the pioneer's daughter-in-law Chua Seah Neo, and grand-daughter-in-law Wuing Ye Ho.

Their graves lie just metres away from his.

The graves of his eldest son Tan Kim Ching and great-grandson Tan Boo Liat are in Bukit Brown Cemetery between Lornie and Mount Pleasant roads.

Tan Tock Seng had six children. His family genealogy now bears more than 1,600 names and spans over eight generations.

Some descendants, like Tan Kim Ching and grandson Tan Chay Yan, also became well-known for their charity work.

Mr Roney Tan said a group of family members would visit and clean the graves in Outram every year during the Qing Ming Festival.

All in, the Tan Tock Seng clan has about 500 known members in Singapore and overseas.

'We wanted to do more because the tombstone is covered with moss and there is some corrosion,' said Mr Roney Tan, a company director, and administrator of the grave fund.

The idea of having a fund came three months ago when two family members flew in from London for a small family reunion.

A group of about 10 visited the graves and agreed that repair works should be done.

'We noticed defects on the tomb face and the grounds weren't properly maintained,' Mr Roney Tan said.

The family also noted growing public interest over the upkeep of graves of prominent Singaporeans.

Mr Roney Tan said he has seen Singaporeans from community clubs and Chinese associations coming by the busload to pay respect to his great-great-grandfather.

The spruced-up site will hopefully facilitate such visits, he said.

'It'll be good especially for the younger generation to know the history of Tan Tock Seng and the good work he has done,' he added.

He also said the family had earlier hired help to scrub the tomb of Tan Boo Liat, great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng.

They managed to locate his grave in Bukit Brown Cemetery only in May.

Tan Boo Liat, who died in 1934 in Shanghai, was a president of the Singapore Kuomintang and a strong supporter of Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat Sen.

His residence, The Golden Bell Mansion, still stands on Mount Faber.

It is now the Danish Seamen's Church.

The family hopes the authorities will consider turning the site into a national memorial to facilitate visits to the grave.

They echo the sentiments of wartime hero Lim Bo Seng's family, who earlier approached the National Heritage Board (NHB) to accord the grave such a status.

Currently, no graves here are national monuments.

There are 55 gazetted national monuments, all buildings selected for their historical significance and architectural merit.

Ms Cheryl Koh, NHB's deputy director of corporate communications and industry promotions, said the board has noted the calls from the public.

She added that much has been done to ensure that 'Singaporeans and history do not forget these individuals who have given so much to this country'.

In the case of Lim Bo Seng, she said that while his grave site is not a national monument, there is a memorial in his honour at the Esplanade.

It is managed by NParks.

The memorial is part of the Civic District Trail organised by NHB to help Singaporeans and tourists understand the nation's history.

There is also a road - Bo Seng Avenue - named after the wartime hero.

'We believe that it is more important to celebrate the life of our heroes and their contributions.

So while Lim Bo Seng's grave site is not a national monument, his memory and selfless contributions to Singapore are recognised in several other ways,' Ms Koh said.

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