The Newsletter 62 Winter 2012

Debating Bukit Brown: bringing a cemetery to life in Singapore

Hui Yew-Foong

In May 2011, the Singapore government announced that Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC),1 a historical Chinese cemetery in Singapore with an estimated 100,000 graves, had been earmarked for housing. In September, initial development plans were unveiled in the form of a dual four-lane road that would be built through the cemetery, starting 2013. The stated purpose of the road was to ease traffic congestion along the existing outer ring-road. In land-scarce Singapore, these were seen as “difficult trade-off decisions” that had to be made. The usual protests ensued. Letters were sent to the forum page of the national broadsheet, and an online petition was initiated by a local academic. In response, the Singapore government reiterated that the area had to be developed to meet the housing needs of Singaporeans.