Residents in other estates don't mind living near columbariums

Yishun Columbarium. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Yishun Columbarium. -- PHOTO: ST FILEST GRAPHICS
Church of St Teresa. -- PHOTO: TNP FILE
Church of St Teresa. -- PHOTO: TNP FILEST GRAPHICS

The opposition among residents to a proposed columbarium in the upcoming Fernvale Lea estate does not seem to be mirrored in other areas of Singapore that already accommodate such centres.

The Straits Times spoke to 30 residents living near three columbariums nestled within residential areas and found a general level of acceptance.

Many shared the views of Bukit Purmei resident Alvin Sum, who has been living beside the Church of St Teresa, which houses a columbarium, for more than 20 years.

"Singapore is so small, if you don't want to build it here, where would you put it?" said the 35-year-old civil servant.

"At the end of the day, we will all end up there as ashes."

The columbarium at the Church of St Teresa is above ground and visible from some housing blocks around the church.

Yishun resident Tay Siew Fang, 50, said it was convenient living beside such facilities.

"People should regard this kind of building in the heartland as a benefit, not a problem," said Madam Tay, who works in a bakery and lives near the Yishun Columbarium in Yishun Ring Road.

"Who wants to travel so far when you can offer prayers right in the neighbourhood?"

Some residents were not even aware at first that there was a columbarium in their backyard.

"I didn't know about it when I moved in," said Mrs Qian Au Mei, who moved to the area two years ago.

Mrs Qian, 70, lives near the Faith Methodist Church in Commonwealth, which has a columbarium.

"I have no complaints, it's not a big deal," she said.

But a few felt that living so close to columbariums could bring bad luck or fengshui.

"I've been living here for more than 30 years, I'm used to it," said another Bukit Purmei resident, Madam Siew Hui Qing, 65.

She added: "I think it's not good for fengshui, but even if I give feedback, they are not going to do anything about it."

dansonc@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Samantha Goh and Isaac Neo