The National Environment Agency (NEA) announced on Tuesday, January 8, that four new funeral parlor sites will be launched to meet the growing demand for such facilities, in part due to an aging citizenry. These sites, which are located away from residential places, will be allocated over the next 10 years.
The population of Singapore grew to 5.5 million in 2017, a rapid trajectory from only 1.9 million in 1965. One of the biggest demographic groups is citizens aged 65 and older. In 2000, their number was at 220,000, which doubled to 440,000 in 2017. By 2030, the number of senior citizens is expected to be at 900,000.
Thus, the need for more facilities for funerals and wakes is a real issue in the country.
The intended sites for the funeral parlors are found at Woodlands Industrial Park E8, Ang Mo Kio Street 63, near a bus depot, the industrial area along Bukit Batok Street 23, and Mandai Road, near the Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium.
The NEA further said that these locations were chosen in order to ensure a better distribution of funeral facilities across Singapore. Different agencies were involved in choosing these locations.
The demand for spaces to hold wakes and funerals is expected to rise over the years, and by 2040, the number of expected deaths is 40,000, according to TODAY. Indeed, the number of deaths in 2017 was 20,905, a significantly higher number than 17,140 from 10 years before.
While many wakes are currently held at the void decks of public housing flats and multi-purpose pavilions, the NEA stated the growing need to hold wakes in funeral parlor facilities. There are existing facilities in Sin Ming, Lavender, Old Chua Chu Kang Road, and Geylang Bahru, for example, but the NEA says that there is a need to plan for more of them.
The agency called such facilities as “important public infrastructure that accords dignity to the deceased as well as comfort to bereaved families, in accordance with religious and cultural practices and preferences”.
Furthermore, the agency also said that it will “continue to work with land-use planners to meet the long-term demand for funeral spaces and ensure that they are ready ahead of demand.”
The agency also assured the public that funeral-parlor complexes will be operated and designed “sensitively” so that the effects on nearby stakeholders are minimal, including building barriers to keep funeral rites discreet, managing traffic and making sure sufficient parking spaces are provided, etc.
However, the NEA will continue to gather feedback from people living in the areas near the intended sites.
The NEA furthermore recognized limited space in the country, which means that needs are in competition. However, the agency assured that the government would “make the best effort to minimize any inconveniences and disamenities arising from these developments as much as possible.”