Consider having leasehold niches in columbaria

The plans for a new burial option at government-run facilities by the National Environment Agency could be problematic (Final resting place for your loved ones' ashes: A niche... the sea... and soon, a garden?; Oct 4).

Turning the Botanic Gardens into a garden of remembrance would risk downgrading the national landmark (Set aside space in Botanic Gardens to scatter ashes, by Dr George Wong Seow Choon ; Oct 12).

A multiracial and multi-religious society should have peaceful and respectable final resting places for citizens at locations far away from housing and commercial districts.

The total number of deaths per year increased from around 10,000 to over 20,000 in the last 55 years, while our land area remained constant. We need a satisfactory solution to achieve a balance between living in honour and leaving in dignity.

Niches in columbaria are probably the best answer, compared with scattering ashes in the sea or on the ground as a means of remembering loved ones.

Scattering ashes in the sea may wipe out all traces and memories for the family and descendants very quickly.

Ashes scattered on the ground as a final resting place could be misconstrued as taboo and disrespectful.

Perhaps revolving niches with 49-year leases in large, respectable public columbaria would resolve the land-scarcity problem. Half a century is long enough to ease remembrance into history.

The 49-year lease is synonymous with the 99-year lease for the living. When a lease expires, the ashes could be scattered in the ocean with a dignified multiracial religious ceremony, while the niches are renewed for newcomers. Columbarium management could manage the records.

The revolving niche concept serves the purpose of ensuring a respectable final resting place for loved ones while offering fond remembrance for at least three generations.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

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