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Fernvale columbarium: Resident shares doubts over URA’s guideline to restrict funeral palour

Over 400 future residents of Fernvale Lea and residents of Fernvale link turned up for  dialogue session called by Dr Lam Pin in, MP of Seng Kang West SMC after concerns from the residents came up to him about the planned Chinese temple and columbarium at Fernvale Link.

The dialogue session also had representatives of the Life Corporation Pte Ltd, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing Development Board (HDB).

Many of the Fernvale Lea’s future residents were alarmed to know from news that their estate or soon-to-be-completed homes are to be situated next to a Chinese temple, which would house a columbarium within its premises.

In the above video posted online, a resident by the name of John Tan shares his doubt over how URA's guidelines could ensure that no funeral parlour would be built for the planned Chinese Temple.

Read the full report of the dialogue session here.

Below is the transcript of the video for the first half of the video.


(Before Video)

Dr Lam Pin Min, MP for Sengkang West: ...Let me just reiterate a few points. I think most of us when we first step into the hall there are a lot of worries, concerns in your mind that there is going to be funeral services and I hope that after this discussion, all of us are assure that there is not going to be any funeral services in this temple. Am I right to say?

John Tan: No. URA guidelines are made by man and they can change. Future, can you guarantee definitely that they will not change.

(Video start)

Dr. Lam:  Err... this gentleman here say that... you know.. the guidelines are laid down by URA that..that you know.. that uses are as such such such.

Can we gurantee that in future it will not change.

Wong: Ya, I am Wong from URA. I think what you have said on the guidelines is what is there today.

John: What about later on? years later?

Wong: What we have approved is what we are allowing. I can assure you it will not. Based on the guidelines..

John: Based on forever? Can you answer that? You can't right?

Ya, I would say.. (cut short by John)

John: Enough, enough, you can't, means you can't guarantee us. (Residents applause)

Five years down the road after elections...we can have funeral parlour now. Then what are we going to do? Sit down there and listen to you again?

Mr. Simon, CEO of Life Corporation Pte Ltd: Probably Sir, can we..

John: Wait, I am John Tan from 469C Fernvale Lea, going to be there soon. Now, what is the projected earning for this so call temple?

Next question..

Simon: I would just like to add on to the first question on what will happen in the future. Would there be a funeral parlour or not. The first thing as I first clarified, there is no intentions for a parlour in this development and there is no expectation of shareholders for us to have a parlour at any point of time at this location.

In future, guidelines of URA may change. That is true but the terms and conditions that we first enter the building agreement that we have signed with URA and HDB states that you know all these purposes as per the guidelines freeze at the point of time. Which means..(video cuts out)..that the terms and condition that is also clearly stated funeral parlour activities is not allowed.

John: Yes but what happen when you sell your company, and will the guideline change?

Simon: No no, we are saying that it is not the guideline, now we are talking about a contractual agreement signed between HDB and us.

John: But what happen when you sell the company to another company down the road and the guideline change. So they can build right?

Simon: No, that company will also be bind by the same agreement signed at the point of the tender. It is not as if I sell to another company, the rules and regulation can be overcome. Or the contractual obligations changes just because there is a change in owner. Any new owner comes in will have to open eyes and know that there is a restriction in the agreement between HDB and this company that a funeral parlour cannot be operated.

So I can assure you that for the next thirty years the land lease of this temple. there will be no funeral parlour because contractually, I have not.. I mean contractually I can't build a parlour for the next thirty years.

John: That is your personal guarantee.

Simon: No, not personal guarantee. That is a legal, a contract law, which says that we can't build a parlour.

John: So can we hear from Dr. Lam that this is a personal or so call government guarantee that the next thirty years that there will be no funeral parlour? (Residents applause)

Dr. Lam: I think if we follow accordi...

John: No no no, we don't want to follow to URA guideline because URA plans change. We want to hear from you. (Residents applause)

Dr. Lam: I think you were mentioning you know...in future if the government were to change the guidelines to build a funeral parlour over there right at the same spot, (video start) I think for sure I would be the first to protest.

John: But would you be still be there? (Laughter, cheers and loud applause by residents)

Well, as far I am the MP over here. I have the interest of my residents to protect.

John: For your information, for once now, when the general election is coming, the next one, you think how many of us.. just after this.. (Residents applause)

Dr. Lam: That is beside the point. I think what is important is that you know.. as the MP of Sengkang West. My duty is to address your concern, to speak up for my residents and to protect our interest. Alright?

Take for example, if let say..err.. URA or HDB were to say, lets change this particular site that has been tendered for Chinese temple and change it to a crematorium. You think I will let it? Obviously I would not. I would be the first one to make noise and say how can you put up a crematorium in the middle of a residential estate? So that is also in my interest to protect because I have to answer to my residents.

John: Yes, I understand that, that is your duty. But let's look at it this way. How many of us know that there is going to be columbarium  next to our flat, anybody saw the small print or fine print? No?

(Residents say no in unision)

Everyone know it as a Chinese temple. ok?

Now, what is the projected earning for the next five years for your company? Because you are telling me you don't want to run it for profit and all that. Hey, you are a listed company you know? You are always making money, how can you say that you are not making money? What is the projected income for the next five years? (Residents applause)

(Read the second part here)