SINGAPORE – Three Malay shrines at the top of a hill on Kusu Island are nearly 70 per cent reconstructed, and will likely be ready for the yearly pilgrimage season which begins at the end of September, said caretaker Ishak Samsudin, 60.

The three shrines, or keramat, were almost entirely destroyed in a fire on April 17.

When The Straits Times visited the century-old site on Aug 29, three workers from Vietnam were doing tiling work at the shrines. They were constructed in memory of a pious man named Syed Abdul Rahman, his mother Nenek Ghalib and his sister Puteri Fatimah in the 1920s.

There was little evidence of the fire, which was visible from nearby St John’s Island, except for some debris and scorch marks on the stone topping the hill.

The site sees heavy traffic from people of various faiths during the ninth lunar month between September and October when devotees visiting Kusu Island’s Da Bo Gong (Tua Pek Kong) Temple also pay their respects at the shrines.

The fire was extinguished by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which later said investigations showed it was not deliberately set. The cause has still not been determined.

Mr Ishak, whose family has taken care of the shrines for six generations, said he has funded the reconstruction with donations from friends and companies.

“It’s been very difficult to carry out the reconstruction because the shrines are on a hill, meaning that we have to carry up all the materials by hand, including about six tonnes of concrete,” he added.