In the month of April, many Chinese families will be busy making preparations for Qing Ming, otherwise known as Tomb Sweeping day in English. While the actual date falls on the 5th of the month, spring-cleaning activities at Chinese graveyards typically occur throughout the month, with the year’s detritus being trimmed and scraped clean in a traditional gesture of filial piety and remembrance of those who came before us.
Graves in Sibu cemetery desecrated, remains removed
However, a number of families in Sibu, Sarawak were left in shock during the Qing Ming period after they discovered that the graves of their loved ones had been broken-into and desecrated, with the remains of those entombed within missing. According to The Borneo Post, the incident had taken place in a Chinese cemetery at Bukit Aup, and was confirmed by Sibu United Chinese Graveyard Association chairman Teo Boon Siew.
As many as seven graves had been broken into by unknown culprits, before the remains were removed from within.
“I was informed about the matter by one of the family members of the deceased buried there who went to the cemetery on Sunday to observe Qing Ming festival.”
“We visited the cemetery today and found seven graves were desecrated and coffins were found burnt.” Teo said.
It is believed that the coffins had been set ablaze not far from the gravesites, as they had managed to find traces of charred and burnt objects. Bones of the deceased were said to have also been taken away, as they were not found in the desecrated graves.
Upon inspection of the damaged graves, Teo said that the acts were likely committed by professionals as six dents had been made on the front, middle and back of each of the seven graves, weakening its structure.
Families shocked by the discovery
According to The Star, Mr Tiong Chong Yee, whose sister’s grave had been among those affected, said that he was horrified at the discovery. Tiong, who had buried his younger sibling just last year when she had passed away at the age of 18, suspects that the culprits had been targeting her remains.
“I believe that the culprits desecrated the grave to look for her remains.”
“After taking the casket from the grave, they burned it. I am very sad over this inhumane act,”
Another family member, Ms Ling Sing Ying, who had buried her late-father at the cemetery in 2005, said she couldn’t believe what had happened to her father’s grave. She adds that their family had no known enemies and that they had not buried any valuables with her father’s remains.
Dayak Daily reports that Teo believes the acts were committed over two weeks ago, as new grass had already appeared to be growing at the gravesites. Four police reports have been lodged over the matter according to TVS, quoting Sibu police chief Superintendent Dr Collin Babat. The case will now be investigated under Section 297 of the Penal Code for trespassing on a burial site.