Govt to consider ash scattering on trees & ash diamonds as 'innovative ideas' for treating remains

Such services need to be affordable for most, if not all Singaporeans, said Baey Yam Keng.

Julia Yee | February 06, 2024, 04:31 PM



The government will need to consider options such as scattering ashes at trees and turning ashes into diamonds, as part of novel ways to treat after-death remains, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment, Baey Yam Keng.

He was speaking in parliament on Feb. 6, 2024, addressing questions regarding new ways to treat remains and changing mindsets toward after-death care.

Ash scattering becoming more popular

To provide more options for the public, Baey said, NEA introduced inland ash scattering (IAS) at the Garden of Peace at Choa Chu Kang in May 2021.

He noted that this method requires less land and is cheaper than niches.

Noting the uptick in people opting for IAS, he shared that a second IAS facility, the Garden of Serenity, is being constructed together with the new Mandai crematorium complex, which will be opened in 2025.

Besides IAS, families might also choose to place the ashes of their loved ones in a pot at home or scatter them at sea, he said.

"Innovative" ways of treating death remains

The government "is aware of other options" for managing death remains, Baey said.

He highlighted methods like scattering ashes on trees and turning them into diamonds as "innovative ideas" that the authorities "will need to look at".

Still, he maintained that the government will need to make such options "affordable for most, if not all".

"Of course, if there are private operators who are offering such different types of services, we can work with them, and they can offer these more interesting options for Singaporeans."

An ageing population

Baey said the after-death care issue is an important one, considering Singapore's rapidly ageing population.

Annual deaths are expected to increase from about 25,000 today to about 60,000 by the 2060s, he said.

With the growing number of aged residents in mind, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is working to build more after-death facilities such as funeral parlours, wake halls, and columbaria to "ensure adequate capacity".

Such facilities are developed in a way that is "sensitive to and integrated with the surrounding community", such as the Mount Vernon funeral parlour complex, which will be integrated with a nearby park with lush greenery.

Destigmatising after-death care

He acknowledged that more can be done to improve the acceptability of after-death facilities, such as raising awareness about end-of-life planning and post-death matters.

He pointed to the government initiative My Legacy, launched in 2020 as a one-stop portal on such affairs.

There are also ongoing efforts to work with stakeholders such as the Singapore Hospice Council to normalise conversations on death and dying, he added.

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