Chance to explore idea of integrating columbarium into park setting

Existing niches at the Mount Vernon Columbarium (left) have to be claimed by the end of June next year, and be relocated to the Mandai Columbarium.
Existing niches at the Mount Vernon Columbarium (above) have to be claimed by the end of June next year, and be relocated to the Mandai Columbarium.ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN

I applaud the decision of the National Environment Agency to extend the leases of the Mount Vernon funeral parlours for a second time ("Leases for Mt Vernon halls extended"; Dec 14).

As stated in the article, part of the Bidadari estate will house the new Mount Vernon funeral parlour, which will be integrated into the surroundings and serve as an extension of the park greenery.

But existing niches at the Mount Vernon Columbarium must be claimed by next-of-kin by the end of June next year, and be relocated to the Mandai Columbarium.

Except for a few faith-based columbaria, most people will use the two government-managed ones - the Choa Chu Kang Columbarium and Mandai Columbarium. However, both of these locations are secluded and far away from any human activities. They are also sterile-looking blocks that lack "soul". While the designers tried their best to put in a small garden in these locations, they are places one would not want to linger in.

Instead of moving the remaining niches in Mount Vernon to Mandai, this is a great opportunity for the authorities to explore the idea of integrating a columbarium into the park greenery. Considering the expertise of our architects and urban planners, I am confident Mount Vernon Columbarium can be beautifully integrated into the Bidadari memorial garden and neighbourhood park.

Neighbourhood parks with an integrated columbarium can be a perfect setting for future generations to learn about their ancestry, and the lives of loved ones can be remembered.

Diana Ong Ing Cheng (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'Chance to explore idea of integrating columbarium into park setting'. Print Edition | Subscribe