A wide range of facilities are found within Fernvale Lea, boasts the glossy brochure for the Housing & Development Board (HDB) Build-To-Order (BTO) project. You can choose to jog along the meandering footpath or exercise at the adult and the elderly fitness stations. You can also pay respects to the dead at the columbarium next door.
Adding fuel to the rising temperatures, the HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) dug in their heels by saying that the town map and site plan issued did include notes which indicated that "places of worship may include columbarium as an ancillary use".
Member of Parliament Lam Pin Min didn't exactly help to defray tempers when he wrote, "I have also been reassured by the developer that there will NOT be crematorium or funeral parlour services at the new temple." Maybe Lam is not familiar with Chinese funeral rituals, but when the ancestral table is ceremonially installed at a temple, there are prayer rites conducted by monks, complete with chanting and musical accompaniment. Interestingly, HDB awarded the tender for the columbarium development to Life Corporation, an Australian funeral services company. Maybe the outfit from Down Under also missed the fine print.
Human resources executive Soh, 28, shares the sentiments of those moving into Fernvale Lea next year. "I know I should respect the dead, but I don't wish to live near a columbarium knowing that the dead are resting there." The objection is not necessarily one of superstition, but the journey home after a hard day's work should be towards a place of happiness, not a house of sadness.
There are valid reasons why most of us don't visit our ancestors' final resting places on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The pain has to be too much to bear, especially when the departed is so dearly beloved. And when we do visit, we like to recall the cherished memories in a quiet and serene environment. Not within the sights and sounds of a development boasting of two playgrounds for frolicking kids at play. Is that so difficult for the insensitive bureaucrats and heartless politicians to understand?