Forum: Errant funeral services firm let off easy

The National Environment Agency (NEA) had on Jan 4 barred funeral services firm Harmony Funeral Care from using government-run after-death facilities after it was found not to have put in place sufficient measures to ensure the proper handling of the late Mr Kee Kin Tiong.

It was announced that NEA would lift the suspension only when it was satisfied that all necessary measures had been put in place.

I hope the NEA can clarify what "necessary measures" have been put in place for it to lift the suspension on Feb 13, just six weeks after the ban was effected (NEA lifts curbs on two errant undertakers, Feb 14).

While the funeral director had shown remorse, it was the assumptions, carelessness and complacency of the company's employees that had directly led to the wrong body being cremated.

This decision by NEA to suspend and then lift the suspension on the company, all within such a short time, has left more questions than answers.

First, there is no correlation between the offence and the punishment meted out.

Second, without robust legislation, it does appear that it was a knee-jerk reaction on the part of NEA to placate the bereaved families involved.

A similar case happened in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2018. In a ruling by the Nova Scotia Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors then, the licence of the funeral home involved and its funeral director was revoked.

In comparison, it appears the funeral director and the funeral parlour of Harmony Funeral Care got off with a mere slap on the wrist.

Chen Jiaxi

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