Next-of-kin coughing up more for coffins

IPOH - Those who have departed may rest in peace but not their families, as prices of caskets have gone up in the past year, mainly due to a hike in transportation and material and labour costs.

However, mindful of the sensitive nature of their business, casket owner­s are striving to keep the costs under control.

Fook Loke Sau Casket Centre director Thung Siew Ching said that since early last year, the prices had increased by between RM100 (S$40) and RM600.

"A casket that used to cost RM800 is now going for RM1,200. The price of the caskets varies according to the size and materials used.

"With the increase in transportation fees and the escalating prices of other items, our business also needs to adapt," she said.

Thung added that she also needed to review the prices for her other funeral services because the prices of fruits, kuih-muih and paper effigies had also gone up.

"But I won't do it drastically and I will be making the changes in phase­s," she promised. "We need to take into consideration some of our customers' financial background."

Kam Chiew Casket owner Ng Kam Wah said his company would bear some of the costs so as not to burden customers.

"If the family is poor, we will offer a discount," said Ng, adding that the caskets at his shop ranged from RM300 to RM30,000.

Some of the more expensive coffins are made from cengal emas, a kind of hard wood, while the cheape­r ones are manufactured from rubber wood.

David Lim, who has a shop in Sungai Petani, said the implementation of the RM900 minimum wage for labourers had worsened the situation, adding that prices had shot up by 10 per cent,

"The prices of the coffins last went up almost three years ago," he said.

"Our sales have also decreased by almost 10 per cent as there are shops that have not increased their prices."