WP BERNARD CHEN: GOVT NEEDS TO HELP FUNERAL INDUSTRY

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Dear Sir / Mdm,

The oversight of my profession is long overdue. A profession shrouded in mystery, a gross understatement. While many of my counterparts perform their duties to the highest of standards, anecdotal evidence abounds of others who prey on the grieving to inflate fees. It puts many of our good work to shame.

An emotional purchase, families are wont not to compare and negotiate prices.
Funeral offerings come in [price] packages, with prices differing between
companies. Without adequate legislation, families find themselves in no
man’s land, without recourse. A Funeral Act is long overdue. A nation built
on enterprises would do well to also include the funeral profession.
The need to shine the spotlight on my profession which has no national
standards for training or conduct and whose pricing can too often seem
inflated and opaque is solely needed. There is neither independent regulation
nor redress in a case of complaint. In fact, you may be surprised to know
that slaughterhouses in Singapore are more heavily regulated than my
profession. The losers will only be our people. They are also, sadly, the
bereaved. Strangers they are today, they could very well be your friends and
loved ones tomorrow.

So would you cast your fleeting thoughts on my profession? My profession
needs your support; and a parliamentary motion to discuss independent
regulation and oversight, and the future of my profession would be much
appreciated. How about we also leverage on the expertise of the Competition
Commission of Singapore (CCS)?

With the prices of funerals continuing to rise, we must become less squeamish
about conversations surrounding the financing of our own eventual demise,
lest it become a burden to society and generations after us. May I urge you
to insist on greater transparency in my profession? May I also suggest that
we explore the option of setting up a bereavement account within our existing
retirement structures?

Notwithstanding the future of Mount Vernon Sanctuary, I would be interested
to hear your government’s strategic masterplan for deathscapes in
Singapore. A population white paper cannot do without the consideration of
the long term management of death

Lest I become a lone voice in the wilderness and my profession continuing to
wallow in the doldrums of third-world standards in a first world model of
development, I seek your urgent attention. I hope you share my belief that a
basic fee for a simple funeral should be agreed upon by all stakeholders and
implemented nationally. Dying is not a business like any other and the market
in funerals does not work like any other. At the very least, the bereaved
should not be penalised for being in grief.

To the honourable men and women in the Thirteenth Parliament, this is my
appeal. I humbly seek your generous consideration on this most pressing of
matter: the future of the funeral profession in Singapore.

Chen Jiaxi Bernard

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