The Penang government is looking to contact the descendants of people buried in 100-year-old graves at the Batu Lanchang cemetery, ahead of its relocation for a road project.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said today the state authorities will publish notices on the relocation of eight graves during Cheng Beng next year, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, when Chinese remember and pay homage to their ancestors.
He said some of the names engraved on the tombstones were not clear while some of the graves were without tombstones.
“We will publish notices during Cheng Beng to identify the descendants of those buried in the graves,” he said in a statement.
He was responding to demands by Penang Gerakan for clarification on the relocation of graves to make way for a highway project.
He said the state had met United Hokkien Cemeteries Penang on May 10 this year to discuss the issue.
He added that two more meetings were held on July 23 and October 18 to discuss the relocation of the graves to make way for a 5.7km paired road project that connects Thean Teik Expressway on the island’s north-east to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway on the east.
Chow said 19 graves on Lot 1558 and Lot 1559 were affected by the project.
“Out of the 19, eight will need to be relocated while the remaining 11 will be maintained and facilities such as parking space and stairs to access the site will be prepared,” he said.
He said United Hokkien Cemeteries Penang has stated that it could not represent any of the relatives of the deceased of the affected graves.
“Additionally, United Hokkien Cemeteries Penang did not have any records regarding the affected graves and did not have the contacts of the relatives of the deceased,” he said.
He said the state, through the Land Office, had informed United Hokkien Cemeteries Penang about the affected graves.
“United Hokkien Cemeteries Penang has asked the state to make necessary adjustments so as not to affect the graves along the highway alignment and we have taken note of this,” he said.
He said United Hokkien Cemeteries Penang published notices in Chinese vernacular newspapers on December 23 for relatives of those buried in the affected graves to exhume their ancestors’ remains ahead of the cemetery’s relocation.