In the end, the cemetery did take off, but never a village. The Chinese were a fragmented lot, with different dialects and different clans. To control the number of burial grounds coming up haphazardly all over the island, the Municipal Council acquired some of this cemetery and it became a municipal cemetery for all Chinese in 1922. The ones who could afford, did have to pay for burials. The ones who died penniless, had their burial costs taken up by the cemetery. Interestingly, when the cemetery opened for business, there were no takers initially. Tne reason behind the initial reticence was that the graveyards were mostly in an orderly, grid form, a more western layout. The Chinese Feng Shui principles on the other hand, recommend graves to be backed against a hilly mound and if possible, facing the sea or an open body of water. In absence of both the features, there were quite a few idle months, before the dead eventually did start to turn up (permissible space elsewhere on the island was running out).
Point of interest: two moss covered incense sticks containers stand at the headstone of an old, nondescript grave, amidst creepers and fallen leaves. What is remarkable is that it could be one of the oldest graves in Singapore, dating to about 1833/34. The central column shows (or should be showing) the name, which I understand is Feng Shan. It was surmised that he would have been a coolie in those times. The name of his son is inscribed therein and today there are no known relatives. Our resourceful walk leader dusted the fainter inscription with talc, as seen in the image, to make it more legible and then read it off as "the 13th year of the reign of Emperor Dao Guang", which works out to be Feng Shan's death year of 1834. Apparently it is a re-buried grave (in 1941 it was removed from a Hokkien cemetery from Silat Road, Bukit Merah area of Singapore), but nevertheless, it is widely considered to be the oldest surviving grave.
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