New facility for post-death rites at Changi Beach but no sea burial site at Tanah Merah: NEA

SINGAPORE – A new facility for post-death rites will be built at Changi Beach, but the National Environment Agency (NEA) will not proceed with a previously announced sea burial site at Tanah Merah.

Following extensive review and consultations with relevant public agencies and stakeholders, the site at Changi Beach – located behind Car Park 2 and between two pavilions – will be designated for conducting post-death rites, said the NEA in a statement on Wednesday (Dec 30).

The site will be kept within a reasonable footprint based on usage needs, and only for post-death rites and not for scattering of ashes, which can be done at a designated site south of Pulau Semakau. People have to rent a boat to get there.

Post-death rites usually involve prayers and rituals conducted on a stretch of beach.

The Changi Beach site has readily available amenities such as a carpark, toilets facilities and is within walking distance from public bus services. NEA added that more detailed parameters of the facility are being worked out.

In 2018, the NEA announced a sea burial facility that will be built along the shoreline in Tanah Merah, with a boardwalk that extends into the sea to allow the scattering of ashes.

But the plan received opposition from members of the public and the sea sports community, as up to five water sports centres, including the National Sailing Centre, are located near the proposed site.

There were also concerns over the possibility of swimming among – or even ingesting – human remains. An online petition also urged the NEA to reconsider the Tanah Merah shoreline as the site for the new facility.

NEA then commissioned an Environmental Impact Study. Although itdid not highlight any significant adverse impact if the facility were built at Tanah Merah, a preliminary design study identified some safety concerns.

The preliminary study revealed that it was not feasible to conduct post-death rites in the area due to safety concerns arising from the gradient of the beach and sea tidal conditions at the site.

“We will thus not be proceeding with the site at Tanah Merah,” said the NEA statement on Wednesday.

In 2018, the NEA said it intended to engage the sailing fraternity in the Environmental Impact Study.

The agency said it has been working with the relevant authorities to identify a suitable coastal site on mainland Singapore for post-death rites.

The provision of such a facility, which will be properly demarcated and enclosed, is in response to public feedback to preserve the dignity and decorum of after-death proceedings, and to ensure adequate provision of after-death facilities to meet the needs of various communities in Singapore, the agency added.

The facility at Changi Beach will be open to all communities, although the Hindu community is expected to be the main users.

The frequency of such rites is expected to be low, and they will mostly be conducted during pre-dawn hours, thus minimising any inconvenience to beach users and members of the public, said the NEA.

“NEA has and will continue to engage the relevant stakeholders on the facility at Changi Beach for the conduct of post-death rites,” added the agency.

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