Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Is Almost As Large As Jurong East
Singapore doesn’t have many well-kept secrets, but hidden in the outskirts of Singapore, Choa Chu Kang (CCK) cemetery is one of them.
Spanning 300 hectares, or almost the entire size of Jurong East, the cemetery is currently home to around 300,000 graves.
Left image: CCK cemetery. Right image: Jurong East.
The grounds that the cemetery covers are expansive, and rightfully so as CCK cemetery is categorised by faith — housing Muslim, Chinese, Hindu and Christian lawn cemeteries and crematoriums.
It’s also clear that some of the more interestingly designed tombstones reflect the life of people who’ve passed.
A place of lost memories, here are some of the most intriguing things about Singapore’s largest cemetery.
1. Michael Jackson’s silhouette on a tombstone
A huge of fan of Michael Jackson who enjoyed impersonating him is allegedly buried here.
This tombstone has a Michael Jackson carving on it, complete with his iconic military jacket.
Although we’re unsure of how true this is, it’s touching to think it may be.
2. Marble car tombstone
Perhaps the deceased owned a car dealership, or simply loved cars.
Whatever the reason for the marble car, it’s an ingenious idea for a tombstone. And frankly, we’ve never seen anything like it before.
3. Sacred tree trunks in Hindu cemetery
An uncommon sight within the Hindu section of the cemeteries, are tree trunks adorned with flower garlands.
However, no one seems to know what these spiritual trees symbolise or which deity they represent.
There’s also a dedicated pathway leading to the trees, for believers to visit them.
However, the mystery remains. If you know the purpose of these sacred tree trunks, do let us know in the comments.
4. Toad tombstone from Chinese cemetery
Animals play a big part in Chinese mythology, and are similarly important in the Chinese Fengshui.
A few select tombstones in the Chinese cemetery are shaped like animals, possibly to fulfill this very purpose.
The most fascinating of which is arguably this Toad tombstone.
Left: 金蟾六顺通, Right: 北斗七星劫
There’s also no birth or death date stated on the gravestone — which instead features two vertical lines of Chinese characters.
Seven crystal stones representing the Big Dipper
The symbols and text refer to a golden toad which spits out gold to enhance a family’s fortune.
And also a way to rob the Big Dipper constellation, by using its life force to ensure that the family remains unbeatable for 180 years.
5. Two guard dogs on a tombstone
We’d like to imagine that the two dogs on this tombstone represent dogs that the deceased actually kept as pets.
And now, they’re watching over their owner. Which kinda warms our hearts and makes us feel all fuzzy.
6. CCK cemetery is shrinking quickly
A common fact about Singapore is that there is land scarcity. In order to combat this, even our deceased do not have a permanent resting place.
In 1998, the government imposed a law stating that the maximum length of time for a burial in CCK cemetery would be 15 years.
After 15 years, the remains are exhumed and cremated, or reburied elsewhere.
Currently, the government has begun the process of exhumation in phases. By 2029, around 130,000 graves will be exhumed to expand Tengah Air Base.
Last year, the government started its plan to reduce the size of the cemetery by one third, giving next-of-kin up to two years to claim remains.
The situation is unpleasant for families of the deceased, but it is unfortunately what has to be done, in order to expand Singapore.
7. Kartina Dahari, a famous Singaporean vocalist, is buried here
The first entertainer ever inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame, Katrina Dahari was the “Queen of Keroncong”, a form of traditional Malay folk music.
Her most well-known song, Sayang Di Sayang, was composed by Zubir Said, who also composed Singapore’s national anthem.
She passed almost 4 years ago, and now rests at CCK cemetery.
8. Memorial for Silk Air Flight 185 crash victims
Back in Dec 1997, a tragedy took Singapore and Indonesia by storm when a plane en route to Singapore crashed into an Indonesian river, leaving no survivors.
Of the 104 people on the flight, there were 46 Singaporean passengers on board. The crash was highly publicised as there were speculations that the incident had occurred intentionally, due to the pilot committing suicide.
In 1998, Silk Air commissioned a memorial for the victims, which is now located at CCK cemetery.
You can find out more about the tragedy in this video here:
Memories which linger on
Most people have mixed feelings about passing on. We often choose not to determine our final resting places, or even discuss the topic of death openly.
CCK cemetery, however, is truly unlike any other resting place in Singapore.
The vast cemetery reflects significant parts of our forgotten history — now only distant memories for the older generation.
Then again, death can be seen as a way to bring forth new life. This holds especially true in this case, when the urbanisation of the area is complete.
Until then, we hope Singaporeans won’t forget the lingering mysteries surrounding CCK cemetery.
And continue to cherish fond memories of those who are no longer with us.
Featured image from Google Maps.