Funeral parlour suspended, to be charged after wrong body was cremated

The send-off of Mr Kee Kin Tiong, 82, had been done according to Christian traditions and funeral rites, when the man was a Taoist, said aggrieved members of his family.
The send-off of Mr Kee Kin Tiong, 82, had been done according to Christian traditions and funeral rites, when the man was a Taoist, said aggrieved members of his family.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Harmony Funeral Care, the company implicated in a mix-up that resulted in a wrong body being cremated, will be barred from using government after-death facilities until it can prove it has taken measures to prevent a repeat of such a situation, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Saturday (Jan 4). 

NEA said its investigations into Harmony Funeral Care had found that the company had insufficient measures in place to ensure the proper handling of the body, which resulted in the “egregious error”.

“NEA will bar Harmony Funeral Care from the use of government after-death facilities at Mandai Crematorium and Choa Chu Kang Crematorium and Cemetery until it can demonstrate to NEA that it has implemented satisfactory measures to prevent such future errors,” said the NEA spokesman. 

The Straits Times had reported on Friday (Jan 3) about a mix-up at the funeral home on Monday (Dec 30) that led to what is believed to be the first reported case of a wrong body being cremated in Singapore.

The send-off of Mr Kee Kin Tiong, 82, had been done according to Christian traditions and funeral rites, when the man was a Taoist, said aggrieved members of his family.

The other body belonged to a 70-year-old man, although Harmony Funeral Care did not say what happened to his body. 

According to Mr Kee’s son-in-law, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ho, the funeral home said the mix-up had been caused by a male employee collecting Mr Kee’s body by mistake from the embalmer.

The bodies of both men had been lying in the same room at Century Products, a funeral parlour with embalming facilities. 

NEA said Century Products had not kept proper records of the bodies received or removed from the premises.

“NEA’s latest inspections of its premises on 31 December 2019 also confirmed these breaches,” said the agency spokesman. 

She added that NEA has issued a notice to suspend the licence of Century Products until it is able to demonstrate improvements to its record keeping to prevent future errors. 

 

Century Products will also be charged under the Environmental Public Health (Funeral Parlours) Regulations for the infringements, added the NEA spokesman. 

Those convicted will face a fine of up to $1,000 and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine of up to $2,000.