Temple with multi-religious focus to open in Sengkang West

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society chairman Lee Kim Siang (on Mr Ong's right) at yesterday's donation drive. The new temple will house a library with books on various religions and host talks and dialogues involving differ
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society chairman Lee Kim Siang (on Mr Ong's right) at yesterday's donation drive. The new temple will house a library with books on various religions and host talks and dialogues involving different religious leaders. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

The non-profit voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society will be operating a temple with a multi-religious focus in Sengkang West.

Set to open to the public on May 20, the new temple will house a library with books on various religions and host talks and dialogues involving different religious leaders and groups, said the society's chairman, Mr Lee Kim Siang, yesterday.

The Thye Hua Kwan temple sits on a 2,000 sq m plot in Fernvale Link, near several Housing Board (HDB) Build-To-Order blocks.

The HDB had initially awarded the site, which was earmarked for religious use, to a subsidiary of an Australia-listed company which had planned to build a commercial columbarium there.

But some residents protested against the plans and the company's bid was cancelled in May 2015.

In the same year, a fresh tender for the land was called and Thye Hua Kwan won the bid.

The VWO then announced it would build its first temple there.

The charitable group operates more than 90 centres and services, which include the Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital and welfare homes.

The new temple in Sengkang has four storeys and a basement carpark, Mr Lee said on the sidelines of the VWO's charity event.

It will also house Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian deities for worship, as well as lecture halls where multi-religious dialogues will be held to promote interracial and inter-religious understanding.

"Our teachings have always been multi-religious... We should walk the talk," said Mr Lee.

"To have a religion doesn't mean you cannot have a wide worldview."

He added that people of various faiths may use pews in the temple, where there will be digital tablets displaying different religious texts.

It will have a "hall of filial piety" as well, for ancestral tablets usually inscribed with names of the dead.

Those applying for the ancestral tablets will be encouraged to provide a video remembering the life of the deceased. The aim, he said, is for people to have a space where they can look back on the stories of their loved ones.

"We'll make it comfortable for you... Have a cup of coffee and watch your grandfather's story," he said.

Yesterday, the VWO launched its 14th Charity Buddha donation drive in Waterloo Street.

The event was officiated by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.

Among other things, proceeds will be used by the society to provide free food and medical services to the needy through its meal centres and free clinics.

The VWO said it raises about $200,000 a year through its annual donation drive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'Temple with multi-religious focus to open in Sengkang West'. Print Edition | Subscribe