How the columbarium saga unfolded

JAN 4: Would-be residents of Fernvale Lea attending a dialogue with Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min. A number of residents insisted on a refund from the HDB over the columbarium issue.
JAN 4: Would-be residents of Fernvale Lea attending a dialogue with Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min. A number of residents insisted on a refund from the HDB over the columbarium issue.ST FILE PHOTO

2014

MAY 27: The Housing Board puts up a tender for a Chinese temple along Fernvale Link in Sengkang. The 2,000 sq m site located next to the upcoming Build-to-Order project, Fernvale Lea, had been set aside for religious use.

JUNE 12: Australian-listed company Life Corporation, which acquired Singapore Funeral Services in 2013, sets up Singapore subsidiary Eternal Pure Land. Three days later, the new firm submits its bid for a Chinese temple with an integrated columbarium to the HDB.

JULY 17: The tender is awarded to Eternal Pure Land, which placed a bid of $5.2 million.

There were two other bidders for the site, both of them Buddhist societies: Peng Hong Association, which placed a bid of $4 million, and Xing Guang Maitreya Society, which placed a $1.8 million bid.

JULY 30: Life Corporation posts an announcement on the Australian Stock Exchange that a convertible bond agreement worth $6 million will be partially used to finance the purchase of the Fernvale site.

NOV 21: Life Corporation announces that Hong Leong Finance will provide a $15 million loan for the funding of the temple-columbarium complex.

DEC 30: The Straits Times runs a report ("Residents surprised by columbarium plan") on the proposed temple cum columbarium. Prospective residents say they are shocked, and that they were unaware they might have to live next to a columbarium.

2015

JAN 4: At a dialogue with residents, Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min assures them that the site will stick to Urban Redevelopment Authority guidelines on ancillary columbariums, which should take up no more than a fifth of the building's total area.

But a number of residents insist on a refund from the Housing Board.

Resident Sharon Toh asks Dr Lam how a purely commercial entity with no links to a religious group was able to bid for the land, to a round of applause from the residents gathered.

JAN 29: Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan tells Parliament that there will be no commercial columbarium at the site.