Category Archives: Articles

Managing The Tortoise Island: Tua Pek Kong Temple, Pilgrimage, and Social Change in Pulau Kusu, 1965-2007

 

 Abstract

This article examines the Guiyu Fushangong Tua Pek Kong Temple (龟屿福山宫大伯公庙) and religious activities in Pulau Kusu as they intersect with the larger forces of social change, state management, and development of the Southern Islands since the independence of Singapore for the period from 1965 to the present. It contends that the state’s interest in the economic potential of the Tua Pek Kong Temple, and the attempt to seek profit from its religious activities in particular over the last two decades, has very much affected the temple and contributed to the commercialization and “touristization” of the island. The state authorities have tried to reduce the autonomy of Pulau Kusu, exerting more control over the temple, and management of the island. They also sought to profit from the religious activities, as seen from their monopoly of goods and services, promotion of commercial activities, and their attempt to transform the island into a tourist site.

Keywords

Pulau Kusu, Tua Pek Kong Temple, Pilgrimage, Grand Uncle, Southern Islands, Singapore

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Buddhism in Singapore: A State of the Field Review

Abstract

This article reviews the existing scholarship on Buddhism in Singapore by leading academics and graduate students in the field from Singapore and abroad. By investigating the various ways in which Buddhist beliefs, practices, and organizations in Singapore have been studied, it suggests that more micro studies dealing with specific issues and smaller case studies remains to be done. The article concludes with some suggestions for future research in this field of study.

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Teaching Dharma, Grooming Sangha: The Buddhist College of Singapore

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Abstract
This article is a preliminary observation of the recently established Buddhist College of Singapore (BCS). It seeks to propose, building on Kuah Khun Eng’s notion of “Reformist Buddhism”, that the college can be seen as a product of the Reformist Buddhist movement in Singapore. By positioning the BCS within this larger context of Reformist Buddhist movement, this article argues that Reformist Buddhism has legitimized the process of rationalization and bureaucratization of the Buddhist institutions in the country. This has, to a large extent, contributed to the organizational and educational structure of the BCS.

Keywords: Buddhist College of Singapore, Reformist Buddhism, religious education, seminary, Singapore 

Buddhism in Singapore–China Relations: Venerable Hong Choon and His Visits, 1982–1990

Abstract

Venerable Hong Choon (1907–90) made eight visits to China between 1982 and 1990. During these visits, the Venerable met national and religious leaders, made pilgrimages to sacred Buddhist sites, helped to restore the monasteries associated with his master Venerable Hui Quan, and officiated at religious ceremonies. This study aims to examine the diplomatic significance of Venerable Hong Choon’s visits to China. It positions these religious exchanges within the broader context of Singapore–China relations since the reopening of China in the late 1970s, and argues that Buddhism played a role in fostering international relations between the two countries in the period prior to the official establishment of diplomatic ties. In the absence of formal diplomatic channels between Singapore and China, Venerable Hong Choon’s religious visits could thus be seen as a form of informal diplomacy with the aim of confidence building.

Rebranding the Buddhist Faith: Reformist Buddhism and Piety in Contemporary Singapore

Abstract

This paper examines the rise of Reformist Buddhism in Singapore and its quest to rebrand the faith in the island-state through the advocation of “Buddhist ideology” as the key emphasis by its practitioners. It argues that instead of “habitually” enacting religious rituals, Reformist Buddhists are concerned with the active reflexive engagement of how the hitherto established dramatization of piety and acquiescence to the elemental tenets of the religion is institutionalized. Drawing on the data from semi-structured interviews conducted with lay Buddhists in Singapore, this study seeks to uncover the principles and practices of Reformist Buddhism and the general opinions on these believers in contemporary Singapore.

Keywords: Buddhism, Piety, Reformist Buddhism, Religion, Singapore

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