PERSONAL NOTE: I just visited my grandpa’s tomb, the size bigger than my present rented apartment in Xiamen city! Seems a little ridiculous…I am beginning to see here and there in China, local people are burying their dead building huge graves…what happens to the strict rules now being implemented in China, that in the light of the enormous population, and enormous older dying every year, China could ill afford to allow every one to bury the dead the ancient way! But they are doing it away from the eyes of the government…some people continue t dig holes to bury the dead! I am reminded of my first time visiting Hong Kong…my first impression I shall never forget: Why the tombs and the dead are occupying the most expensive precious land in Hong Kong, overlooking the vast waters or ocean…that land is considered most valuable in Singapore or USA…yet the dead are buried there in Hong Kong? If you are an orthodox or traditional Chinese, you will understand the practice…Feng Shui, read about it…it is how you bury the dead…ahahahahaha…I was just reading an article about many poor people in Hong Kong who could not afford a cheap place to live? Like Singapore recently, the government has to decide to remove many old respected graves to make room for the living, to make motorways, etc etc etc. Yes, the modern government has the responsibility to make sure the living has space to live and work…they could easily remove all the graves and build cheap housing in Hong Kong for the very poor now, the number continues to rise…and the Chinese government needs to enforce the law of cremation…there is not enough living space for the living in China! Something has to give, to change for the sake of the living! We should all be reliable, responsible stewards of the land the Creator has entrusted to our care…sorry to sound disrespectful of the dead…I am Chinese and I have been taught that the dead is very much alive in our midst! So the Chinese have learned to take care of the dead and living for centuries! Steve, China, Januar 4, 2019 wechat 1962816801 Stephenehing@hotmail.com blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
Singapore digs up graves to build new motorways, including Bukit Brown cemetery where early Chinese immigrants rest
• Much of Singapore is built on old graveyards, including Orchard Road, the city’s main shopping belt
• In China, authorities said in 2014 they were targeting a cremation rate of close to 100 per cent by the end of 2020
03 January, 2019 scmp Thomson Reuters Foundation
When Singapore’s government said it would exhume about 4,000 graves in the defunct Bukit Brown cemetery for an eight-lane highway, an unusually vocal campaign grew quickly to save one of the last remaining artefacts of the past in the modern city.
The cemetery, a rare patch of jungle surrounded by manicured gardens and high rises, has about 100,000 graves, including hundreds of early Chinese immigrants. It is also considered an important relic of the Japanese occupation and the second world war.
Although the cemetery closed for burials nearly 50 years ago, descendants still visit their ancestors’ graves. But that ritual will soon end, as Bukit Brown is scheduled to be cleared for housing by 2030.
More Hongkongers opting for burial sites in mainland China and the US as a lack of local cemetery space drives up prices
“This is a living museum,” said Darren Koh, a volunteer with advocacy group All Things Bukit Brown, which has offered guided walks in the cemetery since 2011, when the exhumations were announced.
“We lost a lot of history and heritage in the other cemeteries that were cleared, so we were galvanised into action to save Bukit Brown,” he said, fighting to be heard above the roar of traffic and construction on the new highway.
With some 5.6 million people in an area three-fifths the size of New York City – and with the population estimated to grow to 6.9 million by 2030 – Singapore is running out of space.
The island nation has long reclaimed land from the sea, and plans to move more of its transport, utilities and storage underground to free up space for housing, offices and greenery. It has also cleared dozens of cemeteries for homes and motorways.
“Planning for long-term land use in land-scarce Singapore often requires us to make difficult decisions,” the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a statement.
Bukit Brown has been earmarked for residential use since 1991, and while the government is committed to “retaining and protecting our natural and built heritage, we need to also balance it against other needs such as housing,” officials said.
The Chinese have traditionally believed that the dead must be buried, and that without a proper burial the soul will not rest, but will wander about as a “hungry ghost”. But the burial practice has changed in increasingly crowded cities from Hong Kong to Taiwan to China.
Traditional grave burials gave way to cremation, and the use of columbaria to store urns with ashes. As even columbaria became crowded, city authorities encouraged people to disperse the ashes in the sea, woodlands or parklands.
“The conception of cemeteries as space-wasting activity takes precedence over the idea of cemeteries as sites of leisurely activity,” wrote Lily Kong, a geographer previously at the National University of Singapore, in a 2012 paper on burial rituals. “To depart from the practice of grave burial requires a significant cultural shift. In many ways, it may be said that this shift has been made.”
Singapore in 1998 announced a 15-year burial period, after which bodies are dug up and cremated or interred in smaller plots.
Why dying in Hong Kong is getting more complicated … and expensive
Hong Kong – where even the columbaria are running out of space – has a six-year limit. Taiwan has similar limits, and has long encouraged cremations and eco-burials.
In China, authorities said in 2014 they were targeting a cremation rate of close to 100 per cent by the end of 2020. They also encourage online memorialisation, where family members can set up a website for the deceased, and make virtual offerings of flowers, incense and wine, including during the annual Qing Ming “tomb sweeping” festival.
That is when families clean the tombs, bring offerings of food and drink, and burn joss sticks and paper money to give their ancestors a comfortable afterlife.