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Cheng Li Hui: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources
in light of the case of a cremation mix up (a) whether it timely for the
Ministry to conduct a review of the industry's practices and standard operating
procedures; (b) what are the preventive measures put in place by NEA following
the incident; (c) whether NEA intends to play a bigger role in regulating
funeral companies, in particular working with the Association of Funeral
Directors Singapore; and (d) how often does NEA inspect and conduct checks on
Government after-death facilities to ensure compliance to regulation.
by Minister Masagos Zulkifli:
1. The National Environment Agency (NEA) licenses
funeral parlours with embalming facilities. Regarding the wrongful cremation
incident on 30 December 2019, NEA’s investigation found that the licensed funeral
parlour involved had not complied with the regulatory requirement to keep
proper records of the deceased received into and moved from the premises.
2. NEA takes a very serious view of this incident.
Funeral directors and funeral parlour operators have the professional and
ethical responsibility to ensure that the deceased under their charge are
properly accounted for, and handled in a dignified and respectful manner.
3. Immediately following its investigation, NEA suspended
the licence of the funeral parlour on 6 January 2020 and stopped the funeral
director from using Government after-death facilities. NEA is undertaking
enforcement action against the funeral parlour for not keeping proper records
of the deceased received into or moved from the premises. The funeral parlour
and funeral director are required to rectify the lapses and improve their
processes to prevent such an incident from happening. NEA will only lift the
suspension when we are satisfied that all necessary measures have been put in place.
4. NEA issued a circular on 10 January to remind all
licensed funeral parlours of the licensees’ regulatory responsibilities to
safeguard environmental hygiene; NEA has also prescribed additional measures, such
as the requirement to strengthen the system of identification of the deceased and
tightening of access control into and out of the premises. While many licensees
already have systems and processes in place, NEA has emphasised to all of them
the need to strengthen their systems and uphold high service standards. NEA’s
follow-up inspections showed that all licensees are complying with these new
requirements. NEA will take firm action against any licensee for
non-compliance, including suspension or cancellation of the funeral parlour
licence in the case of egregious offences.
5. NEA is also working
with the Association of Funeral Directors (AFD) to uplift the professionalism
and standards of the funerary services industry. The AFD already has a Code of
Conduct to guide funerary industry professionals on the conduct of their
business. NEA is identifying further areas for improvement in training
standards and process workflow. We will make these plans known when ready.
6. NEA operates government-owned after-death
facilities, such as the Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex and the Choa
Chu Kang Cemetery Complex. A quality management system based on ISO standards is
in place at these facilities and processes comply with regulatory requirements.
NEA officers adhere to comprehensive standard operating procedures that include
stringent checks of particulars and documents at each step of the cremation or
7. My Ministry and NEA
are working with the funerary services industry, in consultation with religious
leaders, to review how we can further improve controls and uplift the standards
of the industry. I urge all funerary services industry professionals to step up
and continuously improve their operations to achieve higher service standards
and better accountability. If required, we are prepared to consider further
regulations on the funerary services industry.
Last updated: 04 Feb 2020
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