The Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery was established to serve the burial needs of the Chinese community. Officially opened on 1 January 1922, it operated for more than half a century before its closure in 1973.The cemetery was previously a section of a plot of land belonging to the Hokkien Ong clan. Bukit Brown was named after George Henry Brown, a ship owner, trader and broker who arrived in Singapore in the 1840s. Brown’s place of residence was at Mount Pleasant, close to the present Bukit Brown site.
Prior to the opening of the municipal cemetery, the area was owned by three wealthy Hokkien entrepreneurs, Ong Kew Ho, Ong Ewe Hai and Ong Chong Chew, who came from the same village of Bai Qiao in Xiamen, China. In 1872, they bought a 211-acre site at Bukit Timah Road with the intention of setting up a self-sufficient village for poorer members of the Ong clan. However, the land eventually came to be used solely as a burial ground. The hill on which the Seh Ong Cemetery stood was also known to the Chinese as Tai Yuan Shan, Xing Wang Shan and Kopi Sua (Coffee Hill, probably derived its name from the coffee plantations at Mount Pleasant). The cemetery officially opened on 1 January 1922 and was named Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery.
Many well-known and prominent Singaporeans are interred at Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery.They include Eu Kong (Mrs), mother of Eu Tong Sen; Loh Kye Wee, director of Malaya Broadcasting Co.; Tan Lark Sye, self-made multi-millionaire and rubber tycoon; Ong Sam Leong, renowned entrepreneur; Ong Boon Tat, proprietor of New World Park; Lim Nee Soon (Mrs); Lim Chong Pang, after whom Chong Pang village was named; Ang Seah Im, a businessman after whom Seah Im Road is named; Tan Kim Ching, eldest son of Tan Tock Seng; Cheng Hong Lim, a Hokkien businessman who created Hong Lim Park; and Chew Boon Lay of Boon Lay estate.
Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery closed for burial in 1973. There were about 100,000 tombs at that time. In 2011, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that a new dual four-lane road linking MacRitchie Viaduct and Adam Flyover would be built over parts of Bukit Brown Cemetery.The remaining parts of the cemetery and its surrounding land, totally 200 ha, are slated for redevelopment into a new housing estate in the future. In October 2013, Bukit Brown Cemetery was placed on the 2014 World Monuments Watch, which records global heritage sites which are at risk of being destroyed.
Source: Kartini Saparudin, https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_1358_2009-07-13.html