repost: 新加坡華人公墓,一個年輕國家的歷史記憶

Written by Frank M. Lin 4/9/2017 7:11 am @ Arcadia, California – I love history.  This large graveyard is of significant historic importance.  We have just passed the 100 centennial memorial for WW1.  WW2 actually wasn’t all that long ago because many people alive lived it.  My dad was born on 1943 he was just a little baby at the tail end of the war…  but my oldest aunt and her husband are in the 90’s and 80s so they have lot of memory.  Her husband was part of the young intellectual elites that retreated from China to Taiwan with the KMT after they lost the Civil war…  there are many of them in Taiwan.  Of course a good amount the wealthy people moved on to the West many came to USA…


 

Source: http://cn.nytimes.com/asia-pacific/20170406/here-lies-a-graveyard-where-east-and-west-came-together/zh-hant/

新加坡華人公墓,一個年輕國家的歷史記憶

張彥 2017年4月6日

新加坡的武吉布朗墳場。 政府計劃最終剷平這個公墓,但一個團體正在努力保護它。

Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

新加坡的武吉布朗墳場。政府計劃最終剷平這個公墓,但一個團體正在努力保護它。

新加坡——在這個充滿高速公路和高層建築的島國的中心,有一道時間的皺紋:武吉布朗墳場(Bukit Brown),它是世界上最大的華人公墓之一。

如今這裡已被廢棄,雜草叢生,但仍可以看到一系列不可思議的墓碑、雕像和神龕,就在市中心的銀行、購物中心和區域總部以北4英里。

  • 檢視大圖墓碑正被編目並存儲在倉庫中。 對保護主義者來說,這是一種勝利。

    Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

    墓碑正被編目並存儲在倉庫中。對保護主義者來說,這是一種勝利。

  • 檢視大圖為墓地因開發而被破壞的死者舉行的儀式。

    Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

    為墓地因開發而被破壞的死者舉行的儀式。

  • 檢視大圖一名道士在武吉布朗主持一場儀式。

    Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

    一名道士在武吉布朗主持一場儀式。

多年來,這個佔地213英畝的地方是萬聖節尋找刺激者和鳥類觀察者的目的地,是這片過度擁擠的土地上的一個綠色港灣。但是近年來,它變成了某種強大得多的東西:試圖與這個國家消失的過去重新取得聯繫的新加坡人的朝聖地。

因此,在這個很少容忍社區行動主義的國家,武吉布朗成為了一項重要的社會運動的中心,計劃剷平公墓部分區域的政府,與致力於保護它的一群公民之間展開了對抗。

在這個不斷尋求現代化的社會中,這是意想不到的,在限制對該公墓的破壞,提高公眾對該島豐富歷史的認知方面,該運動的倡議者取得了一些成功。

武吉布朗建於1922年,是約10萬個新加坡家庭的長眠之地,直到1972年被關閉。這裡的重要性超過了該國相對短暫的五十年歷史,因為許多具有歷史意義的墓地被從其他推平的公墓搬到了那裡。

專家估計,加上旁邊一個被遺棄的著名華人家族的墓地,周圍的雨林裡散落著多達20萬個墳墓,包括多位新加坡知名國民的墓地。

「你一定要把這個公墓看作一座了不起的歷史檔案庫,」新加坡國立大學(National University of Singapore)中文系主任丁荷生(Kenneth Dean)說,「但是鑒於最近事情的發展情況,我對它能存在多久深感擔憂。」

這些擔憂與這個城市國家對土地永不滿足的渴望有關。新加坡的570萬居民生活在277平方英里的土地上——比紐約市還小一點——但它必須承擔多於城市的職能。它必須擁有一個國家的基礎設施,包括軍事基地、垃圾填埋場、水庫、國家公園,以及世界上最繁忙的機場和港口。

該國逾20%的土地是填海造地,導致它的兩個鄰國馬來西亞和印度尼西亞禁止向新加坡出口沙子,以保護自己的土地。新加坡計劃到2030年將該國的人口增至690萬,所以土地極其珍貴。

這個問題部分上要從內部解決。2011年,政府決定去掉該島南北向高速公路上的一個彎道,也就是從武吉布朗穿過。不久之後,政府宣布,該公墓的其餘部分也將在40年內剷平。

在過去幾十年裡,新加坡人看到很多著名古蹟和社區被拆除,所以他們開始採取行動。他們把這個轉折點與1963年拆除賓夕法尼亞火車站(Pennsylvania Station)相比較,那座車站是紐約市的一件布雜藝術傑作,它的拆除推動了美國對歷史遺蹟的保護。

他們的核心是一個由20多名志願者組成的非正式團體,這些志願者稱自己為「布朗人」。他們提供免費導遊,建了一個網站,詳細介紹公墓的歷史,包括當地人和遊客的讚揚。

第一批布朗人中包括54歲的雷蒙德·吳(Raymond Goh,音),他是一名藥劑師,過去經常在公墓附近帶領萬聖節旅遊團參觀(和有華人文化的許多地方一樣,新加坡也痴迷鬼故事和恐怖傳說)。過了一段時間,吳開始仔細閱讀墓碑上的銘文,驚訝於那些墳墓的古老。

「我注意到很多墳墓看起來很老,實際上有些是萊佛士時代的,」吳說。他指的是新加坡的英國殖民地創立者史丹佛德·萊佛士爵士( Sir Stamford Raffles )。「我想知道為什麼沒人告訴我這裡有這個呢?」

2011年,政府公佈自己的計劃後,吳和兄弟查爾斯(Charles)一直在思考如何拯救武吉布朗。他們開始培訓其他志願者,包括熟悉學術研究領域的大學教授,幫助處理公共關係的前記者,以及提供社區探訪和資助的商界人士。換句話說,它是新加坡中產階級的一個橫斷面,他們懷念自己年輕時那個逝去的城市,渴望更好地理解自己的文化根源。

在過去數月裡,布朗人多次引導我遊覽這個地方,我覺得它的確令人驚嘆。鬱鬱蔥蔥的植被讓我們感覺遠離繁華的現代城市,而墓碑本身就很美麗,甚至無需解釋。

有些像小堡壘,由中式或英式石獅甚至錫克族士兵守衛。還有些裝飾著道家和儒家的圖像和符號。另外一些則講述死者對一個政黨或一個隕落王朝的忠誠。

多虧新加坡國立大學教授莊穎(音)、工程師洪毅瀚(Ang Yik Han)、律師池凌志(Fabian Tee)以及前記者廖雪珠(Claire Leow)等導遊的介紹,我開始理解為什麼這個城市國家對大英帝國的亞洲屬地如此重要。

我們研究了王三龍(Ong Sam Leong)的巨大陵墓,他是聖誕島的勞工供應商,於1917年去世,墓地被搬到了這裡。我還看到了陳金鐘(Tan Kim Cheng)的墓地,他是安娜(Anna)和暹羅國王姻緣的牽線人。還有那些支持孫中山的革命家的墓地——在孫中山的策劃下,中國的最後一個王朝最終被推翻。

許多墳墓用遷往這些地區的中國移民長期使用的獨特磚石進行裝飾,而其他一些則顯示出馬來文化的強烈影響。

「這裡是東西方的交匯地,」洪毅瀚說,「我們站在島的中央,龍的腹部,我們不能讓人剖開它。」

我忍不住想到了世界上的其他很多偉大的長眠之地。從樹木和野生動物的角度講,武吉布朗讓我想起了倫敦的海格特公墓( Highgate Cemetery );作為逃避俗世喧囂的一個去處,它感覺像布魯克林的綠樹林公墓( Green-Wood );作為國家名人的記錄,它讓人想起了巴黎的拉雪茲神父公墓( Père Lachaise )或布宜諾斯艾利斯的雷科萊塔公墓( Cementerio de la Recoleta )。

對丁荷生教授來說,這些墓碑展示了東南亞與中國特定地區之間的豐富聯繫。在他的指導下,一個研究小組正將墓碑上的信息錄入數據庫,從而繪製出地圖,展現宗族和村莊如何從中國沿海遷移到這些遙遠的海岸。

前不久,丁荷生的一個項目獲得了政府資助。雖然官員們拒絕了許多關於該公墓的電話和傳真採訪請求,但他們似乎開始理解它的重要性。

政府已經開始滿足布朗人的一些要求。最初,有5000個墳墓將被移除,但這個數字已經減少至3700個。那些墓碑沒有被粉碎,而是正被編目並存儲在倉庫中。此外,政府還成立了遺產評估委員會,審查未來的項目。

這種妥協意願似乎反映出這個社會更廣泛的情緒,它發展得太快,人們感覺失去了根基,與國家缺乏深刻的聯繫。有一次,我在公墓散步時,遇到了國防部的一名官員。由於他立場的敏感性,他要求隻公布他的名字彼特(Pete)。

「我們的國家很年輕,我們太關注未來,有時忘了過去,」他說,「武吉布朗是個巨大的故事寶庫。」

張彥(Ian Johnson)是《紐約時報》記者。

翻譯:王相宜


 

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/04/world/asia/here-lies-a-graveyard-where-east-and-west-came-together.html

Here Lies a Graveyard Where ‘East and West Came Together’

SINGAPORE — In the middle of this island nation of highways and high-rises lies a wrinkle in time: Bukit Brown, one of the world’s largest Chinese cemeteries.

Now neglected and overgrown, it offers an incredible array of tombstones, statues and shrines just four miles north of downtown banks, malls and regional headquarters.

For years, the 213-acre site was a destination for Halloween thrill seekers and bird watchers, a haven of green in an overcrowded land. But in recent years it has become something much more powerful: a pilgrimage site for Singaporeans trying to reconnect with their country’s vanishing past.

That has put Bukit Brown at the center of an important social movement in a country that has rarely tolerated community activism: a battle between the state, which plans to level part of the cemetery, and a group of citizens dedicated to its preservation.

Continue reading the main story

Surprisingly, in a culture of relentless modernization, its advocates are scoring some successes in limiting damage to the cemetery and raising consciousness about the island’s colorful history.

Built in 1922, Bukit Brown was the final resting place for about 100,000 Singapore families until it was closed in 1972. Its importance is greater than its relatively recent 50-year history implies because many historic graves were relocated there from other cemeteries that were paved over.

Add in an abandoned cemetery next door for a prominent Chinese clan, and experts estimate that up to 200,000 graves are sprinkled amid the surrounding rain forests, including those of many of Singapore’s most famous citizens.

Photo

In a victory for preservationists, tombstones are being cataloged and stored in a warehouse.CreditSim Chi Yin for The New York Times

“You have to think of the cemetery as an amazing historical archive,” said Kenneth Dean, head of the Chinese studies department at the National University of Singapore. “But given how things have developed recently, I have deep concerns about how long it will survive.”

Those worries have to do with this city-state’s insatiable appetite for land. Singapore’s 5.7 million residents live on 277 square miles, a bit less than the area of New York City, but the land has to accommodate more than a municipality’s needs. It must hold the infrastructure of a country, including military bases, landfills, reservoirs, national parks and one of the world’s busiest airports and harbors.

More than 20 percent of the country is built on reclaimed land, leading its two immediate neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, to ban the export of sand to Singapore in order to protect their own land. And with plans calling for Singapore’s population to increase to 6.9 million by 2030, land is at a premium.

Part of the solution has been to look inward. In 2011, the government decided to smooth out a bend in the island’s north-south highway by cutting through Bukit Brown. Soon after, the government announced that within 40 years the rest would be paved over, too.

After watching many of their best-known monuments and neighborhoods leveled over the past decades, Singaporeans began to take action — a turning point that people here compare to the 1963 destruction of Pennsylvania Station, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece in New York City whose loss catalyzed historic preservation in the United States.

At their center is an informal group of two dozen volunteers who call themselves “Brownies.” They offer free tours and run a website that details the cemetery’s history and includes testimonials by locals and visitors.

One of the first Brownies was Raymond Goh, 54, a pharmacist who used to lead Halloween tours around the cemetery. (As in many parts of the Chinese cultural world, Singapore is obsessed with ghost stories and ghoulish legends.) After a while, Mr. Goh began to read the inscriptions on the tombstones carefully and was surprised at the antiquity of the graves.

Photo

A Taoist priest leading a ceremony in Bukit Brown. CreditSim Chi Yin for The New York Times

“I noticed a lot of graves looked very old and, in fact, that some were from the time of Raffles,” Mr. Goh said, referring to Singapore’s British colonial founder, Sir Stamford Raffles. “I wondered, ‘How come nobody told me this was here?’ ”

When the government’s plans were announced in 2011, Mr. Goh and his brother Charles wondered how to save Bukit Brown. They began training other volunteers, including professors familiar with the world of academic research, former journalists who help with public relations and business people who provide community outreach and funding. In other words, it was a cross section of middle-class Singaporeans who felt nostalgic about the lost city of their youth and were eager to better understand their cultural roots.

Brownies have guided me through the site several times over the past few months, and I thought it was indeed a marvel. The lush vegetation made us feel cut off from the thriving modern city, while the tombstones were beautiful in their own right, even without explanations.

Some are like mini-fortresses, guarded by stone Chinese or British lions, or even Sikh soldiers. Others were decorated with Taoist and Confucian images and symbols. Some told of the dead person’s loyalty to a political party or a lost dynasty.

Thanks to explanations by guides like Ian Chong, a professor at the National University of Singapore; Ang Yik Han, an engineer; Fabian Tee, a lawyer; and Claire Leow, a former journalist, I began to understand how this city-state was crucial to the British Empire’s Asian holdings.

We surveyed the enormous mausoleum of Ong Sam Leong, a supplier of labor to the Christmas Islands, who died in 1917 and whose grave was relocated here. I also saw the grave of Tan Kim Cheng, who introduced Anna to the King of Siam, and those of revolutionaries who supported Sun Yat-sen when he was plotting the ultimately successful downfall of China’s last dynasty.

Many of the tombs were decorated with the distinctive tiles used by longtime Chinese immigrants to these regions, while others showed the strong influence of Malayan culture.

Photo

A ceremony for those whose graves have been disrupted by development.CreditSim Chi Yin for The New York Times

“This is where East and West came together,” Mr. Ang said. “We are standing at the center of the island, the belly of the dragon, and we can’t let it be cut open.”

I couldn’t help but think of many of the world’s other great resting places. In terms of trees and wildlife, Bukit Brown evoked Highgate Cemetery in London; as a retreat from daily life it felt like Green-Wood in Brooklyn; and as a record of one country’s famous people it was reminiscent of Père Lachaise in Paris or Cementerio de la Recoleta in Buenos Aires.

For Professor Dean, these tombstones show the rich links between Southeast Asia and specific regions of China. Under his direction, a team of researchers is entering data from the gravestones into databases, allowing the development of maps showing how clans and villages migrated from coastal China to these faraway shores.

Recently, one of Professor Dean’s projects received government financing. Although officials refused numerous telephone and fax requests for interviews about the cemetery, they seem to be coming around to understanding its importance.

Already, the government has yielded to some of the Brownies’ demands. Originally, 5,000 graves were to be moved, but that number has been reduced to 3,700. And instead of pulverizing the tombstones, they are being cataloged and stored in a warehouse. In addition, the government has set up a heritage-assessment board to review future projects.

This willingness to compromise seems to reflect a broader sentiment in a society that has moved so quickly that people feel rootless and without deep ties to their country.

During one walk through the cemetery, I met a Ministry of Defense official who asked that only his first name, Pete, be used because of the sensitivity of his position.

“Our nation is a young one, and we’ve been so focused on the future that we sometimes forget the past,” he said. “Bukit Brown is a huge trove of stories.”

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