Columbarium issue sparks calls for flat refunds

Would-be residents of Fernvale Lea met Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min at a closed-door dialogue that lasted for three hours. The session was attended by 400 people.
Would-be residents of Fernvale Lea met Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min at a closed-door dialogue that lasted for three hours. The session was attended by 400 people.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Would-be residents convey request to HDB through MP at dialogue

Some upset would-be residents of Fernvale Lea have asked the Housing Board for a refund for their flats over the columbarium issue.

They conveyed their request to Dr Lam Pin Min, MP for Sengkang West, during a three-hour closed-door dialogue which was attended by 400 people.

In spite of assurances from him that there would not be a crematorium or funeral parlour services at the Chinese temple, a group gathered around a table where they could leave contact details for HDB to call them about a refund. It is unclear how many eventually did so.

Dr Lam, giving a quick rundown of the dialogue, said: "They felt uncomfortable that such a (columbarium) service would be provided there and have requested that HDB look at their request for a refund."

The URA and HDB said in a joint statement later in the evening that they are looking into the request.

The Straits Times understands that several of those who attended the dialogue felt that HDB should have been more upfront about the columbarium.

News of the columbarium, which is expected to be completed by next year, had surprised many residents when it was reported last week.

Dr Lam said that it was indicated in the Fernvale Lea brochure for the new flats.

"There is really nothing to hide," he added.

He also noted that it is not uncommon to have columbarium services at places of worship.

Three temples within Anchorvale - Puat Jit Buddhist Temple, Nanyang Thong Hong Siang Tng Temple and Chee Hwan Kog Temple - already have similar set-ups.

There will be 3,258 residential units in the vicinity of the temple, spread across Build-To-Order projects Fernvale Lea and Fernvale Rivergrove, and executive condominium Lush Acres.

To a number of them, the concern was how the resale value of their flats would be affected by all this. One of them was project manager Vicky Naidu, 33, who said that rejecting the flat "is a very tough decision".

"We have already waited for so many years to get a house, so if I reject this, I have got to wait another few years.

"It is not an easy decision to make overnight."

samboh@sph.com.sg