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Columbarium near home? No big deal, say some S'poreans

SO NEAR, BUT SO WHAT? Residents who live near columbariums told The New Paper they have few complaints. This is in contrast to the furore sparked by the plan for a columbarium near Fernvale Lea estate in Sengkang.


    Jan 07, 2015

    Columbarium near home? No big deal, say some S'poreans

    HIS home is a stone's throw from Puat Jit Buddhist Temple in Sengkang.

    The temple is next to Nanyang Thong Hong Siang Tng Temple and Chee Hwan Kog Temple, both of which have columbariums.

    But Jamal Sulaiman, 45, who lives on the third storey of Block 318D Anchorvale Road, does not think it is a big deal.

    The temple was built about two years after he moved into his four-room flat 12 years ago.

    He said: "I was worried that it would be noisy at first and that there would be incense burning. But so far, it hasn't really been an issue."

    When The New Paper spoke to residents in Sin Ming Avenue, located next to Bright Hill Crematorium and Columbarium, and those living in Yishun Street 21, next to Yishun Columbarium, there were also few complaints.

    Their reaction is in stark contrast to the furore among some future residents of the Build- To-Order project Fernvale Lea in Sengkang, over a columbarium to be built near the estate. On Sunday, about 400 people attended a three-hour, closed- door dialogue with Lam Pin Min, MP for Sengkang West.

    Several have even asked for a refund of their flats, which are expected to be ready by early next year.

    One of the concerns raised was the proximity of the columbarium affecting the future resale value of the flats.

    The Singapore Real Estate Exchange analysed properties around 10 columbariums islandwide and noted that there could be a negative impact on prices if they are located less than 250m away.

    But the impact may be offset by amenities such as MRT stations or popular schools.

    A check of Housing Board transactions last year showed that in Sin Ming Avenue, a smaller flat near the columbarium fetched a higher price than a flat of a similar age farther away. There were no transactions for flats near the columbariums in Sengkang and Yishun last year for comparison.

    Many residents in Bright Hill and Yishun raised the issue of noise and traffic jams during the annual Qing Ming festival but said that their daily lives have not been affected otherwise.

    Koh Guat Ngoh, 59, a part-time cleaner whose home is a five-minute walk from the Yishun Columbarium, does not think her neighbours are too affected by its presence.

    She said: "I think it depends on the individual, as some might see the location as being inauspicious. I might mind it if the columbarium was directly opposite my block, and I have to see it every time I open the door. But I am fine with my current location."

    Housewife Tam Ai Nai, 70, who lives in a five-room flat in Sin Ming Avenue next to Bright Hill Crematorium and Columbarium, thought that it all depends on an individual's beliefs. "I'm a Buddhist and the ashes of my ancestors are at the columbarium. So I don't mind."

    Although Madam Tam is not thinking of selling her flat, she does not think the price will be adversely affected. "This flat is rare nowadays because of its size," she explained.