First of all, HDB lacks basic ethics in trying to hide the fact that a columbarium will be built in the new HDB Town at Sengkang West. As pointed out by REDWIRE Times, HDB has only put that information of possible columbarium in ULTRA FINE PRINT in the sales brochure to buyers. This is the usual UNETHICAL and DISHONEST tactic used by many unscrupulous businesses but it is a big surprise that a government statutory board would do such a thing.
Some Singaporeans may think that this is a small matter but it is not. For most Singaporeans who decide to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a HDB flat, this would probably be the most expensive thing they will ever buy in their whole life! It is only FAIR and JUST for HDB to make a PROPER FULL disclosure of what they are buying into.
PAP government should learn a thing or two from Hong Kong government. Hong Kong government has not only come up with legislation to safeguard general consumers' rights and interest via its Misleading Omission Ordinance but it has put up a law and a statutory board, Sales of First-hand Residential Properties Authority specially for supervising and scrutinizing developers' sales procedures as well as marketing materials.
A whole set of comprehensive law was enacted in April 2013 as in "The Residential Properties (First-hand) Ordinance". Such law has basically made the sales process of any first hand properties transparent and open. It helps to level up the playing field and protects consumers' rights and interests.
The Ordinance sets out detailed requirements in relation to sales brochures, price lists, show flats, disclosure of transaction information, advertisements, sales arrangements, and the mandatory provisions for the Preliminary Agreement for Sale and Purchase and Agreement for Sale and Purchase for the sales of first-hand residential properties.
This is what a First World Government should do to protect its own citizens from unscrupulous businesses, especially so when a large amount of money is transacted. Can PAP do it? Yes but no. It chose not to do it but instead, learned all the dirty, scheming and despicable tricks from all those unscrupulous businesses.
It also provides for prohibitions against misrepresentation and the dissemination of false or misleading information.
Offences are created for the contravention of the provisions in the Ordinance.
While you may think that is all HDB tried to hide: a columbarium in a Chinese Temple but no. That is not all. This "Chinese Temple" isn't going to be just a simple Chinese Temple with a columbarium.
HDB issued a tender for that parcel of land meant for the said "Chinese Temple" in July. However, it was awarded to the highest bidder of $5,200,988, a supposedly "Australian company" Life Corporation. The first thing you must wonder why a land meant for a RELIGIOUS purpose is awarded to a NON-religious FOREIGN entity! I believe there are quite a number of religious groups and organizations in Singapore which are actively looking for a parcel of land to build their temples! (Personally, I have known quite a number of such Chinese religious groups.)
If this parcel of land is meant for "Chinese Temple", isn't logical for HDB to set the criteria straight that only REGISTERED Singapore religious groups are eligible? Why allow a FOREIGN company to bid for it? Can a company without any RELIGIOUS background really make good use of the land which is supposedly intended for Chinese Temple?
Sensing something very wrong with HDB's sneaky actions, I did a special check on this Australian company. This company used to deal with Stem Cell research but it sold its business to a Singapore public listed company and changed its name. It actually wholly owned a Singapore company dealing with funeral services! According Life Corporation's website, its Chairman is a Chinese who have graduated from Beijing in the 1980s. He is also the Chairman of a public listed company in Hong Kong, Golden Meditech Holdings. Apparently Golden Meditech Holdings has bought over this Australian company.
Life Corporation's only core business is funeral services via its ownership of Singapore Funeral Services Care Pte Ltd.
Now it all makes sense. "Chinese Temple" is just a decoy, to fool buyers of those BTO flats surrounding it. It was never meant to be just "Chinese Temple" or a columbarium. It was meant to be a land for funeral parlour/casket services and columbarium! Who would want to buy a flat next to a business entity that runs funeral services? That is why HDB has to try so hard, using all despicable and unethical means to hide such information!
Of course, Life Corporation was just restructured and turned into Funeral Services in Singapore last year. Although it has a full subsidiary in Singapore running funeral services, it did not use Singapore Funeral Services Care Ptd Ltd to bid for that parcel of land meant for "Chinese Temple". Why didn't it use it? That would be just too obvious, isn't it?
Please take note that although its SFS has experiences in funeral services, but it has zero experience in running a columbarium, least a religious entity like a Chinese Temple! But HDB still allows it to bid and eventually, awarded the land to it!
Obviously, Life Corporation won't just build and run only a Chinese Temple and a columbarium on that piece of land. It bid for that land for its core business, SFS which is Funeral Services! And it is not surprising that it claims it is not only to build a columbarium but also facilities to run its funeral services via SFS! This is all stated in ST reports here.
"Life Corp, the parent company of Singapore Funeral Services, said the space will be used to run funeral services, columbarium space and associated services."Now having a columbarium next to a HDB estate is one thing, but to have a business entity running "funeral services and associated services" will be totally another thing! Residents will have to face endless funeral wakes and processions being carried out at the premises whole year round.
It is very clear now that "Chinese Temple" was just a decoy and an excuse. The real intent is for HDB to bring casket/funeral parlour services right into HDB heartland! Isn't that totally despicable and unethical for HDB to do such thing?
Let me ask HDB a few questions before they really start building a whole facility for casket services:
1) Why isn't land slated for religious purposes be restricted to religious organizations registered in Singapore?
2) If Life Corporation has no experience in running a religious organization, why was the tender awarded to it?
3) Is HDB allowing Life Corporation to carry out funeral services other than columbarium storage of ashes?
4) Will there be any cremation facility allowed to be built on that parcel of land?
5) If there isn't any cremation facility allowed and funeral services are allowed there, would it mean that there will be endless funeral wakes, rites and processions carried out at that premises?
6) Is this "Chinese Temple" allowed to carry out funeral services for other religions?
I believe for those who have been fooled into buying those expensive BTO flats there, they would have lot more questions to ask HDB.
I am totally appalled and disgusted by HDB's unscrupulous act. It is really unbecoming of PAP government to use such dishonest tactic to fool Singaporeans. As the government, PAP should be thinking of ways to enhance Singaporeans' life, safeguard and protect Singaporeans' interests. But instead, it has just gone too far in its greedy ways so much so that it becomes the main culprit in damaging Singaporeans' interests. It becomes the very entity that use dirty tricks and scheming tactic to misrepresent and mis-sell HDB flats to Singaporeans.
Singaporeans should stop trusting PAP as an upright government that would defend your rights and interests.It would already be a blessing if the PAP government don't come after your interests and rights, least expecting them to defend it for you.
It has changed from bad to worse. There is only greed in PAP government now. It has lost its moral compass totally. How could PAP self proclaim itself as "World Class" when its actions are so low class? Singaporeans, we have only ourselves to depend on to defend ourselves against such unscrupulous government.
Goh Meng Seng
Apparently PAP MP Lam of Sengkang West has gone into panicky mode after ST reported on this columbarium saga. Rightfully so.
He has went on to ask HDB, URA and even Life Corporation questions but I guess, not specific enough. As far as I know, tender and bids for land meant for religious purposes are quite stringent and there were religious groups REFUSED the award of land by HDB for many other reasons. Read his report on Facebook here.
The fundamental question to ask HDB is why the tender didn't restrict to Religious Groups or Organizations registered in Singapore only?
There is a whole list of questions should be asked, including those listed in this blog article.
On top of that, there are CONTRADICTING statements made by Life Corporation on the columbarium plan. It was reported by ST that it will have funeral services in this building but now, it says there will not be any funeral services:
" I have also been reassured by the developer that there will NOT be crematorium or funeral parlour services at the new temple."
But on top of this, MP Lam has revealed the following:
"According to the presentation, the services include:
1) promotion of cultural and Buddhism activities and value system
2) communal activities like spaces for other religious group for small group activities, nominated non-profit group beneficiaries, private spaces for self and group cultural and religious development
3) automated columbarium"
What does number 2, " communal activities like spaces for other religious group for small group activities, nominated non-profit group beneficiaries, private spaces for self and group cultural and religious development" means? Funeral service?
This is the first time we are seeing Profit-Oriented Public Listed company allowed to run their business on land slated for RELIGIOUS purpose. I am really skeptical about such move.
Of course, HDB claims that they have stated "columbarium" in their brochures but buyers of the BTO has claimed otherwise. In fact, Redwire Times has revealed that it was put in ULTRA Fine Print! HDB has to answer to that.
There will be a dialogue session to be conducted this coming Sunday 4 Jan by PAP MP Lam. If you are one of the stakeholders, be it BTO buyer or residents there, please attend the session and shoot your way off.
"The development plan of the Chinese Temple is still being finalised and we will be organising a dialogue session with LifeCorp, URA and HDB on 4th January 2015, 10am (Sunday) at Anchorvale CC multipurpose hall for them to share their plans with residents. Residents are most welcome to attend to share your feedback and concerns."