154 MEDIA: WHY ARE SOME SENGKANG RESIDENTS SO INTOLERANT OF A COLUMBARIUM?

First, it was a foreign workers' dormitory in Serangoon Gardens, then studio apartments in Toh Yi Drive and eldercare facilities in Woodlands and Bishan, and now it is a columbarium in Sengkang West ("Columbarium issue sparks calls for flat refunds"; yesterday).

The not-in-my-backyard syndrome has resurfaced again, this time in the form of objections to "living near the dead".

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Will this issue never end in land-scarce Singapore? Already, it is posing a headache for urban planners.

Unless we banish all matters related to ageing, dying and the dead to offshore islands, Singaporeans will continue to debate this issue in years to come. Sengkang West will not be the last as our population continues to age.

Notwithstanding the controversy between the seller and buyers over disclosure of information, we need to ask ourselves: Is living near the dead really so dreadful? What about funeral wakes at HDB void decks, some lasting up to a week? Wouldn't these be more of a nuisance to residents?

We have learnt to live with and accept void-deck funeral wakes, so why can't we accept a columbarium that is part of the neighbourhood?

Douglas Chua

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