Moving: The ritual master conducting the grave relocation prayers. (Below) A village elder conducting the groundbreaking ceremony at the new Chinese cemetery in Kampung Bukit Gelugor.
PENGERANG: Despite strong opposition by some residents, relocation has started at one of the five Chinese cemeteries here to make way for the Refinery and Petro-chemical Inte-grated Development (Rapid) pro-ject.
A prayer ritual and ground-breaking ceremony was conducted by a religious master at the Kampung Sungai Kapal Chinese cemetery.
The next-of-kin of four deceased persons had agreed for the remains of their loved ones to be relocated to a new cemetery in Bukit Gelugor, some 17km from the existing graveyard.
The ritual started at around 8am yesterday followed by the ground-breaking at each of the four graves as a symbol of respect to the deceased.
Only the next-of-kin of the ones in the graves that were to be relocated were allowed at the cemetery grounds while other villagers were denied entry to the road which leads to the graveyard.
Policemen were on standby to guard the area from around 7am yesterday.
The residents were later asked to produce their MyKad to prove that their address was in the area before they could be allowed in again.
One of the residents, Chow Lock Yong, 61, said she wanted to enter the cemetery to see how the ritual was performed as she was among those who agreed to relocate the graves of her late husband and his parents.
“I was not going to create problems or anything because I had already agreed to the relocation,” she said when met by reporters yesterday.
Another resident, Seng Coco, 39, however, shouted at the policemen and other residents when she was not allowed to enter.
“The police should not stop the residents from going in because we want to monitor the situation in case they (contractors and ritual masters) wrongly dig up other people’s graves,” she lamented.
Philip Ho, the ritual master who conducted and oversaw the whole ceremony, explained later that it was not possible for them to wrongly dig the graves of those who did not agree to the relocation exercise as they followed a strict procedure.
Kota Tinggi OCPD Supt Rahmat Othman said that no unfortunate incidents were reported throughout the ceremony as about 30 uniformed men were on duty to safeguard the area.
The relocation affects some 3,400 graves.