I was exploring the historic stretch of Old Choa Chu Kang Road west of the Lim Chu Kang Road-Jalan Bahar junction, when I stumbled upon an old Muslim cemetery, seemingly (and hopefully) forgotten (or ignored) by the authorities.
The cemetery lies to the south of a car park built sometime between 2015 and 2018, next to the junction of Cemetery South Street 23 and Street 16. As it is located near the western end of Old Choa Chu Kang Road, I shall call it the Old Choa Chu Kang Road End Muslim Cemetery.
The cemetery is largely surrounded by forest and bush, and is filled with overgrown grass - it hasn’t been maintained for a long time.
As is usually the case for old Muslim graveyards, this cemetery has graves of varying ages and conditions. Some go back to the 1960s and 1970s. Some have dapur kubur (the rectangular structure that sits upon the grave mound) that were recently renovated; others have severely deteriorated after decades of exposure to the elements. Yet others merely have batu nisan (grave markers, usually one at the head and one at the foot of the burial site) to indicate someone’s resting spot.
From the 1970s, burial in Singapore was gradually shifted to the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex, where the major faiths were allocated different locations. However, the Old Choa Chu Kang Road End Muslim Cemetery predates this policy. My guess is that the cemetery served the rural community in the area before the villagers were resettled.
Before the 1970s, there were two villages in the area - Choa Chu Kang Village and Kampong Bereh. The cemetery could have served both villages until they were resettled by the 1990s.
Below is a map of the area in 1970. At the time, Choa Chu Kang Village and Kampong Bereh lay at the western end of Choa Chu Kang Road, shaded blue, presently Old Choa Chu Kang Road. A Muslim cemetery near the villages is shaded green. I believe this cemetery is the Old Choa Chu Kang Road End Muslim Cemetery.
Since the cemetery lies outside the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex in terms of both date and geography, it is not subject to the New Burial Policy of 1998, which mandates that burials in Singapore must be exhumed after 15 years for either cremation or reburial. Hence, in terms of grave architecture and heritage, the Old Choa Chu Kang Road End Muslim Cemetery is a priceless time capsule, similar to another Muslim cemetery I explored earlier this year, Bedok South’s Lucky Gardens Cemetery.
Hopefully, this time capsule will remain untouched. An area of concern is the realignment of Lim Chu Kang Road because of Tengah Air Base’s expansion. According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s 2019 Master Plan, the new road will pass dangerously close to the cemetery.
There are earthworks going on just to the west of the cemetery, most probably for this new road. I hope it will not encroach further into the grounds of the cemetery.