More spaces like Mount Vernon needed

More spaces like Mount Vernon needed
Mr Ang Zi Qian, chief executive of Mount Vernon Sanctuary (above), plans to spend $300,000 on improvements such as repainting the halls and replacing and repairing the furniture now that the lease has been extended to March 2017. Singapore Casket’s lease has been extended until December next year.

There are many reasons the parlours at Mount Vernon Sanctuary are great resting places for the dead, and these parlours deserve a more permanent status than just a two-year renewal ("Mount Vernon parlours get two more years"; last Sunday).

As family members cope with their bereavement, the use of the parlours allows them to lock up for the night and go home to rest.

The halls are also air-conditioned and family members can be comforted that their loved ones in the caskets are in a safe environment.

In contrast, the use of a void deck in HDB blocks for wakes requires a 24-hour vigil and is subject to the weather and high humidity.

Mount Vernon is located in the central part of Singapore and is easily accessible.

The Mount Vernon parlours and niches have also been part of Singapore's landscape for more than three decades. If there is any new development in this area, it should be respectful of, and integrate with, the old.

As there are already 21,000 niches in Mount Vernon, it is a significant place for many families.

It is a convenient and non-congested place, as can be seen during the annual Qing Ming festival. There are also ample parking spaces.

Death is an inevitable part of life. Spending those last few days or hours with the dead before a cremation or burial is an important part of the grieving process.

It is usually the only time when family members get to meet relatives, old friends and neighbours within the space of just a few days.

With the ageing population in Singapore, some thought should be given to providing more conducive spaces for bereavement.

In fact, the relevant authorities should spruce up Mount Vernon with more street lamps and provide proper maintenance so as to allow Singaporeans to grieve and be comforted in this "garden of love and remembrance".

This article was first published on Apr 12, 2015.
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