Sea current will carry ashes to recreational area

I fully support the idea of having a sea burial facility for scattering ashes, having used that method for my brother-in-law some years ago.

However, I believe the National Environment Agency (NEA) has not fully considered the implications of choosing to site the facility along the Tanah Merah coastline (Sea burial site not a recreational beach; April 21).

Its claim that the proposed site is not a recreational beach and is covered by dense undergrowth reflects a shallow understanding of the nature of sea currents and coastal tides. It is naive to think that, once scattered onto the water, the ashes will remain just in that particular location.

Rather, the ashes will inevitably be swept by the tides and current along the coast and towards Bedok and Marine Parade. Some of it will sink, while some will float.

The proposed site is in a bay shared by two popular sea sports facilities - the MOE Sea Sports Centre and NSRCC Sea Sports Centre. There is also a recreational swimming beach nearby.

On any given weekend, there are 100 to 200 sailing boats, windsurfers and stand-up paddlers using the stretch of water that is down-current from the site. Young children also sail and train in these waters. Boats capsize and people swim in these waters.

Did the NEA consider the sensitivities of these swimmers? The sea water they swallow might contain the remnants of someone's loved one. How would that person's relatives feel about this possibility?

These are the real stakeholders who should be consulted.

We have many other choices of location for a sea burial facility that is more private and away from areas of public recreation and activity (Don't put death in the middle of lively beach, by Mr Jason Lim Swee Kay; April 12). There is really no good reason to have it in Tanah Merah. I strongly urge the NEA to reconsider the decision and find an alternative location.

Leslie Kuek (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2018, with the headline 'Sea current will carry ashes to recreational area'. Print Edition | Subscribe