When his 84-year-old mother died in February, Mr Sunil Kumar, who owns a trading company, approached Rajoo Casket to make her funeral arrangements, including bathing and embalming her body in readiness for cremation.
As Rajoo Casket did not have its own embalming facility, the body was taken to Fook Sow Undertaker at Block 89 Geylang Bahru for the embalming process, said Mr Kumar, 54. The funeral was later held at another parlour in Geylang Bahru.
Though most families usually do not visit the embalming site, Mr Kumar and his family members went down to make sure that everything was in order.
"My mother's body was kept in a unit on a metal tray, which was also a bathing bay, and it was uncovered. Across her were the bodies of two other women. Only their faces were covered, with a flimsy plastic bag," Mr Kumar said in a forum letter to ST.
This was after her body had been embalmed, he told ST.
Upset at what he saw, he and his family members had their mother's body moved to another funeral parlour two doors down, when space was available later that afternoon.
Last week, he told ST that the bodies were in the embalming area, which was not a separate room but partitioned from the rest of the parlour by a curtain.
When contacted, the managing director of Rajoo Casket, who wanted to be known only as Mr Nathan, insisted the company ensures embalmers it engages do not leave bodies uncovered. "Everyone has their right to privacy and respect," he said.
Mr Nathan also asked why Mr Kumar and his family had entered the embalming area without proper authorisation, and without notifying the casket company. But Mr Kumar said that a staff member allowed him and his family members to go inside after he asked where his mother was.
Mr Kumar also said that the door of the funeral parlour had been left ajar overnight, and that some of the dogs had gone inside to sleep under the embalming tables.
In response, Mr Nathan said this could not be helped as it was an industrial area, and the dogs do not disturb the bodies. The door also remained open as the parlour was open 24 hours.
In a forum letter, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said it has inspected the premises of Fook Sow Undertaker and found the funeral parlour is no longer in operation.
"We have attempted to contact the licensee, and investigations are ongoing," said NEA's director of memorial facilities and planning department Wong Chiu Ying.
In response to queries from ST, NEA said it issued a circular to remind operators of licensed premises of their responsibilities under the licensing conditions, along with other advisories on how the dead should be handled, though it did not give details on the content of these advisories.
When contacted, the owner of Fook Sow Undertaker, a Mr Lee, said the parlour was being renovated. He declined to give his full name and did not comment on the complaints.
The Sunday Times visited the parlour on Thursday evening, and found it shuttered. Most of the fittings inside had been removed, with only a few pieces of furniture left.