Inland ash scattering possible by 2020

Service to be available at two sites; decision follows public consultation by NEA

Inland ash scattering will be available at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex in 2020 and Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex (above) in 2021. PHOTO: ST FILE

By 2020, people will be able to scatter the ashes of their loved ones inland, besides the current options of scattering ashes at sea or keeping the remains in a niche.

Inland ash scattering will be available at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex in 2020 and Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex in 2021, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday.

The Straits Times understands that ashes could be scattered in a garden within the facilities.

The decision to introduce the service followed a series of consultations held from August to December last year, involving religious groups, after-death care service providers and the public, said NEA. It has been studying the option since 2014, including how it is implemented in other countries.

The industry and stakeholders were consulted on various aspects of inland ash scattering services, such as design criteria, user experience, operational procedures, booking arrangements as well as cultural and religious needs.

The groups suggested, for example, that the scattering of ashes should be respectful and dignified, and the facility should be secular and open to all faiths.

"Overall, the industry and key stakeholders welcomed the provision of inland ash scattering services at government-run facilities as an additional option for the management of cremated human remains," said NEA.

The agency will be calling tenders from this year for the design and development works for the two facilities.

Religious leaders are positive about having an additional option to manage cremated remains.

"Some would still prefer the traditional option of burial or laying the ashes in the columbarium, but it is a welcome option for others," said Bishop Terry Kee, president of the National Council of Churches of Singapore. Bishop Kee, who was involved in the consultation process, had suggested that the place be large enough to accommodate mourners, provide sufficient privacy for them and be beautifully landscaped.

Venerable Seck Kwang Phing, president of the Singapore Buddhist Federation, said: "More people are choosing sea burials, which can be inconvenient for the elderly who need to get on a boat."

Other places that practise inland ash scattering include South Korea, China, Taiwan, the United States and Australia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2018, with the headline Inland ash scattering possible by 2020. Subscribe