I am a resident in Kovan and recently, I chanced upon the burning of paper offerings to the dead, which was part of a Chinese funeral in my neighbourhood.
The paper offerings (car, house and paper money) were stacked in a metal cage and, in the process of burning, the fire towered about 3m to 4m high.
This burning was performed close to midnight and the metal cage with the burnt ashes was removed only the next day at about noon.
What was disturbing to me was that this large-scale burning took place next to some shophouses, with landed residences about a stone's throw away.
Apart from the huge inconvenience of flying ashes which cannot be contained by the metal cage, an unfortunate wind change could result in a freak fire accident if the fire got out of hand (especially in the dead of night when most people are asleep).
I am not against such religious rituals, and I do note that HDB estates have designated locations and furnaces provided to regulate small-scale burning of paper offerings.
Large-scale burning of paper offerings poses a bigger fire safety concern, all the more reason for such activities to be regulated. They should not be conducted near residences and important buildings such as power stations.
Apart from ashes, the intense heat from the big fire can also damage structures close by.
Are there no designated open spaces in each neighbourhood where residents can apply for a permit to carry out such large-scale burning safely, and not create any fire hazard or inconvenience to other residents in the same area?
Prevention is always better than reaction. If a fire got out of hand in an open space, there will still be sufficient reaction time to tackle the problem.
I urge the authorities to look into this matter.
Cheong Fung Fai