Muslim graves to be exhumed from Sept 26 next year

Gravestone-maker Ahmad Paku at work at the Muslim cemetery in Choa Chu Kang on April 29, 2015.
Gravestone-maker Ahmad Paku at work at the Muslim cemetery in Choa Chu Kang on April 29, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

A new group of Muslim graves at the Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery will be exhumed from Sept 26 next year under phase six of the ongoing exhumation exercise there.

The affected graves are at blocks 6, 8, 9, 19 and 20. Part of block 7 will be affected.

Due to land scarcity, the National Environment Agency (NEA) introduced a burial policy in 1998 to limit the lease of graves to 15 years. Graves which are 15 years or older are exhumed in phases.

Choa Chu Kang Cemetery is Singapore's biggest and only active public cemetery.

The graves at blocks 19 and 20 will be making way for the expansion of Tengah Air Base, which was announced by the authorities in July.

The Government said 35,000 Muslim graves would eventually be exhumed and, of these, 5,000 have met the minimum burial period of 15 years. Claims and registration for their exhumation will begin this month.

All remains will be reinterred in crypts at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery as Islam requires the dead to be buried. Such a burial system, in which prefabricated concrete graves are aligned in a grid, was introduced in 2007 to intensify use of limited land. The remains of up to eight people can be buried in the same space that fits a newly interred coffin for one.

NEA has appointed the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (Muis) to carry out the registration, exhumation and reinterment services.

Muis has placed notices in newspapers today, inviting family members to claim the remains of their relatives buried in these sections of the cemetery. Claims can be made from now till Sept 25 next year. Next-of-kin can register at the Masjid Pusara Aman in Lim Chu Kang from today till Oct 10. Thereafter, they can register a claim by making an appointment online at www.pusara.sg.

Costs of the exhumation and reinterment will be borne by the Government.

The Straits Times understands that the NEA will announce phase seven of the ongoing exhumation exercise tomorrow. These will comprise Chinese graves.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2017, with the headline 'Muslim graves to be exhumed from Sept 26 next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe