What’s the fuss, Sengkang? -Thomas H.

Two sides to a coin. Two sides to the Sengkang Columbarium saga. But end of the day, question here is, really, need-or-not? So much fuss.

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Do you even know that there are currently plenty of columbariums all over Singapore? Before you read further, think about it.

Establishment voice: The plot of land has been designated as a reserve site for a Chinese Temple in the URA Masterplan. This new Chinese Temple will be the first Chinese Temple in Singapore and in the region (outside Japan) with a modern automated Columbarium.

Anti-establishment voice: It’s all about the money. Since when the Government would pass up on a chance to make more money?

Establishment voice: Kudos to Member of Parliament Dr Lam Pin Min. Within a week, he managed to organise a dialogue session with all the key stake-holders (The Straits Times article was published on 30 Dec. 2014), including the CEO of Life Corp and representatives from HDB and URA.

Anti-establishment voice: The dialogue session is yet another wayang exercise. Everything’s been decided already. This is just a PR exercise to pretend that they care about Singaporeans’ opinions.

Anti-establishment voice: Why is Lam sitting at the same table with URA/HDB/Life Corp during the dialogue session? Looks quite clear which side he stands with. Shouldn’t he be representing his constituents’ worries? Or he does not know their worries? Even if he is a moderator, he should sit somewhere else or with the residents.

Establishment voice: Maybe Lam is following a precedent set by previous MPs. At the Maplewoods condominium-estate saga, Members of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Christopher De Souza and Vivian Balakrishnan were present and sat at the same table as the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Establishment voice: URA guidelines did not restrict the type of company that can develop a religious institution. MP Lam understood from the URA that it has been done before.

Anti-establishment voice: If non-religious commercial entities can bid for religious sites, who knows what future temples/churches/mosques will look like? Maybe Integrated Resorts for the living and departed?

Establishment voice: The mention of temple has been reflected on the brochure for the Fernvale Lea BTO development. It was also indicated in the brochure that the proposed facility may include other ancillary uses, including Columbarium allowed under URA’s prevailing Development Control guidelines.

Anti-establishment voice: So now every BTO that is going to be launched next to a temple, everyone should take it to mean that there may be a columbarium and avoid those BTOs.

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