Act quickly to restore confidence in funeral profession

A hearse driving past funeral parlours along Geylang Bahru Terrace.
A hearse driving past funeral parlours along Geylang Bahru Terrace.PHOTO: ST FILE

It's been close to two months since allegations of poor practices in the handling of deceased persons in the Geylang Bahru area first surfaced, and a month since an article ran detailing the many issues facing the profession (Raise standards at funeral parlours, operators urge, June 9). It was reported that the Association of Funeral Directors hoped to meet the National Environment Agency (NEA) to air its concerns and discuss improvements for the profession.

However, there has so far been silence on the part of the authorities and the association. It was also reported that the association has 37 members.

In the light of the ageing population, the public deserves an update on

•whether a meeting has taken place and what the outcome was;

•how the NEA is working with the association and individual funeral professionals to ensure the dead are treated with care and dignity when taken into the care of funeral directors;

•whether there is a need for further legislation to better govern the funeral profession in Singapore.

Another issue is the short tenancy period given to funeral operators at Geylang Bahru.

The association should act swiftly to restore public confidence in this trade and in the many funeral professionals who work hard each day serving bereaved families.

I hope the association agrees that being transparent and accountable is one way to raise the standard of the funeral profession to one that all Singaporeans and their families deserve. After all, the profession will be doing all Singaporeans a major disservice if standards are not greatly improved.

Chen Jiaxi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2019, with the headline 'Act quickly to restore confidence in funeral profession'. Print Edition | Subscribe