National Solidarity Party hits out at HDB, URA over Fernvale columbarium issue

SINGAPORE - The National Solidarity Party (NSP) has hit out at the Government over the columbarium issue at the upcoming Fernvale Lea estate in Sengkang.

In a statement on Sunday, NSP's secretary-general Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss said that the Housing Board (HDB) was not clear in its sale brochure, which indicated that the site adjacent to the project was reserved for a Chinese temple, but did not specify that it would include a columbarium.

It was only in a disclaimers section that it said the proposed facilities are only indicative and subject to change or review, she wrote.

"This paragraph is vague and open-ended. Anyone reading it would not be sufficiently or at all informed of the possibility of a columbarium," she said.

"Clearly, HDB has a vital duty to disclose as much information as possible to their buyers in their sale brochure, so that their buyers can make an informed decision."

She also said that there are no restrictions on the type of company that can develop a place of worship, and no specific legislation regulating the management and operation of a columbarium.

She noted that the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) awarded the tender of the Chinese temple site to the highest bidder, instead of religious institutions.

Calling a columbarium a "lucrative" business, she added: "That the business entity has pledged to serve the local community by providing a Chinese temple, does not change the fact that URA has sold a site designated for religious worship to be exploited by a commercial entity for maximum profits to its shareholders."

She urged the URA to review its decision-making process to include a period of public consultation before allowing developers to go ahead with their plans.