Sengkang resident-turned-heroine Sharon Toh asks the hard questions about Sengkang columbarium

Someone was standing up for residents during the dialogue session.

By Jonathan Lim | January 5, 2015

A video clip of a Fernvale Link resident questioning Life Corporation’s CEO Simon Hoo is starting to go viral online. Here’s the clip, which is mostly in Mandarin:


In the first half of the clip, Fernvale Link resident Sharon Toh asked Hoo whether it was true that in a Dec. 30, 2014 The Straits Times report that Life Corp would be providing one-stop funeral services at the proposed Chinese temple at Fernvale Link.

Hoo clarified that the report was not verified and that only a temple with a columbarium would be built and there would be no funeral services provided.

The exciting part of the exchange came later after Hoo’s clarification where Toh asked some pointed questions. We give you a transcript:

Sharon Toh (speaking in Mandarin): You didn’t answer my question: is this piece of land managed by Life Corp or Eternal Pure Land?

Simon Hoo (speaking in English): To that question itself, Life Corp is the parent company; Eternal Pure Land itself is the owner, developer and operator of this temple site itself. So Eternal Pure Land will be operating it but the management is the same from Life Corp.

Sharon Toh: If that is the case, is Life Corp/Eternal Pure Land registered as a religious organisation in Singapore?

Simon Hoo: Eternal Pure Land is not a registered religious group.

Sharon Toh addressing the people in the audience: Ok, no (referring to Simon Hoo’s answer). *Members in the audience start applauding*

Sharon Toh: May I know if it is a not-for-profit organisation?

Simon Hoo (speaking in Mandarin now): No. *Members in the audience applaud*

Sharon Toh: Is it a registered charity?

Simon Hoo: No. *Members in the audience applaud*

Sharon Toh: If it’s ‘no’ to everything, you all should also not be registered with the Singapore Buddhist or Singapore Taoist Association. Am I right?

Simon Hoo: Yes, yes. *Members in the audience applaud*

Sharon Toh: If that’s the case how can you bid for this land in the name of a Chinese temple? *Members in the audience applaud*

If you are bidding in the name of Life Corp, I think this is a serious problem. If you are bidding in the name of Life Corp, a listed company, can I say that you are using religion as a way for your listed company … (drowned out by audience applause).

Dr Lam Pin Min (speaking in English): Maybe just before Simon answers the question, there is actually two aspects to this dialogue session, ok? The first aspect is having the Chinese temple with columbarium service located in Fernvale Link. That’s one aspect. I think there will be other residents who will actually be quite concerned about this aspect.

Then the other aspect will be actually the tendering and the running of the Chinese temple activities. All right? Ok, so we have to separate it very clearly and, of course, we will have Mr Simon as well as URA and HDB here  to actually help us answer some of this questions.

Sharon Toh: But Mr Lam, if he (Simon and Life Corp) does not belong to any religious groups, how can they call it a Chinese Temple? *Members in the audience applaud, someone off-camera says ‘Basket’*

Dr Lam Pin Min: Later our HDB and URA colleagues will help explain these queries. So we don’t want to jump to conclusion yet. All right?

Member of the audience off-camera: Why not explain now?

Dr Lam Pin Min: Because we want to have some sequence, lah. We don’t want to jump all over the place. We have time, ok? We have all the time to answer all the quest(video cuts off).


Related articles:

Sengkang columbarium saga: Perspectives from two ends

Life Corp CEO claimed Straits Times reporter did not verify facts on Sengkang columbarium

The Sengkang columbarium saga raises important questions in land-scarce Singapore

Planned columbarium in Sengkang catches residents by surprise


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