Sunday, October 19, 2008

lim bo seng's memorial & tomb

when i was a student, i used to wonder who lim bo seng was whenever i walked past the memorial at the old esplanade at queen elizabeth walk. then when i took up cross-country running, i was set wondering again because at the top of this small hill at macritchie reservoir, there is a tomb with the same name inscribed on it. (at one time, the finish point for cross-country races at macritchie reservoir used to be at the top of the hill.)

at the time, i did not know the difference between a memorial and a tomb, so i was kept wondering: how could the same person be buried at two places.

indeed, lim bo seng was actually buried in two places. he was first buried at an unmarked plot in batu gajah, perak and after the war, his remains were brought back to singapore and buried at the hill top in macritchie reservoir park. the memorial at the esplanade was built ten years later.

"lim bo seng was born in china in 1909. he and his family migrated to malaya when he was a boy and he came to singapore when he was 16. here he continued his studies at raffles institution. he then furthered his studies at the university of hong kong.

like many overseas chinese , lim was a chinese patriot. in the 1930s, when japan's actions in china became increasingly hostile , lim then back in singapore became active in raising funds for the anti-japanese activities.

when the japanese push to take singapore, lim fled to india where he met john davis and richard broome, who were recruiting men for the anti-japanese resistance force in the jungles of malaya. lim slipped back to malaya by submarine in 1943.

lim was then captured and tortured by the japanese military police for not revealing the names of mpaja leaders who work with him. he died in batu gajah prison on 29 June 1944, and was buried there at the age of 35.

in 1952, a memorial was erected over his grave. when sufficient funds were raised, a bigger memorial was erected at the esplanade."


Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for that bit of history education. Coincidentally, my parents-in-law are also burried at a cemetery in Batu Gajah. It was near to a hospital and I believe also a prison. Must be the same one you mentioned.

Victor said...

Incidentally, I just read the cartoon book titled "My Singapore" by Mr Morgan Chua. It has a snippet on Mr Lim Bo Seng:

"Lim Bo Seng (1904-44)

Freedom Fighter

Patriotic, prominent businessman and conspicuous agitator against the Japanese. Provided labour force for defence through the Overseas Chinese Mobilisation Council. Four days prior to the surrender of Singapore, fled to Sumatra then to India and joined the British forces. Returned to Malaya, as a guerilla fighter with Force 136. Captured in Gopeng near Ipoh on 27 March 1944, brutally tortured to death in a Batu Gajah prison. Died on 29 June, the same year. After the war, his remains were brought back to Singapore and given a hero's burial on 13 January 1946. Awarded the rank of Major-General posthumously."