Since gaining independence in 1965, cemeteries have been exhumed and relocated across Singapore at a steady pace to make space for the growing population.
However, the land occupied by this particular cemetery was once part of a sprawling village established by the Ying Fo Fui Kun clan association who purchased 100 hectares of land in 1887 for the growing Hakka (Khek) population. In 1965, with the separation from Malaysia accentuating the need to properly manage Singapore’s scant acreage, politicians began to negotiate the relocation of the village and cemetery. While villagers were resettled into modern estates, there was resistance by the Hakka to relocate the sacred geography. A deal was reached in 1969 that allotted 1.89 hectares for the cemetery and ancestral temple for 99 years.
Today, Shuang Long Shan consists of around 2,700 marked graves (with a couple of mass graves), an ancestral temple housing spirit tablets and a columbarium, and a multi-purpose hall constructed in 1988 for clan activities.
The 65 rows of mosaic-covered gravestones are particularly remarkable, lending a modernist flair to a site that sits in contrast to the vast array of ancestral temples designed in traditional architectural styles. The larger and more decorative graves near the front of the cemetery indicate mass graves of unclaimed bodies divided into common villages or surnames. The westernmost gravesite contains remains from the Cheng San Theng, one of the earliest cemeteries in the region.
With half of the 99-year land lease lapsed, the future of the cemetery is uncertain. There have been discussions to rehouse the remains in a more space-efficient manner.
Know Before You Go
The cemetery is a short walk from Commonwealth MRT station. A bus stop nearby is serviced by bus numbers 32, 100, 105, 111, 145, 147, 195, 196, 198, 970.
The ancestral temple is open from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. daily. The cemetery seems to be open at all times.