Questions on Sengkang columbarium to be raised in Parliament

Would-be residents of Fernvale Lea airing their concerns with Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Australian funeral services company Life Corporation, over a columbarium to be built at a Chinese temple near the
Would-be residents of Fernvale Lea airing their concerns with Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Australian funeral services company Life Corporation, over a columbarium to be built at a Chinese temple near the residence, on Jan 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The issue of letting non-religious organisations bid and develop places of worship will be addressed when Parliament sits on Thursday, for the second time this month.

It arose from the recent controversy over a columbarium which, for the first time, is being developed by a commercial entity with no links to any religious organisation.

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah asked whether the Government could review its criteria on who can bid for such projects so that religious groups can have a fair shot at bidding for land earmarked for religious use.

The controversial columbarium is to be built inside a Chinese temple in Sengkang, which will sit on a plot that the Eternal Pure Land company won with a tender bid price of $5.2 million.

The winning bid was higher than the $4 million offer by a Taoist organisation and the $1.8 million price tabled by a Buddhist organisation.

Like Ms Lee, Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Seng Han Thong and opposition MP Lee Li Lian of Punggol East constituency want to know the criteria used to award land for religious use, according to a Parliamentary order paper.

But the two issues set to dominate tomorrow's Parliament session are on MediShield Life insurance and new controls on the sale and consumption of liquor, both of which are expected to draw vigorous debate from MPs.

The Medishield Life Bill would enshrine in law the universal medical insurance programme that is scheduled to be implemented by the end of this year.

The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill will restrict the consumption and sale of liquor in Singapore to specified hours and areas. While government polls have shown broad support for the liquor Bill, some people have criticised it for being draconian.

A Bill to amend the Police Force Act will also be introduced, with changes made on how the police are to be organised and disciplined.