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Sengkang Residents Press for Answers: Why did HDB Select a Profit-Seeking Company Over Religious Organisations to Build Columbarium?

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Life Corporation isn’t a religious organisation, or a charity, or a non-profit organisation, or a company which has expertise in columbarium services. So why did the HDB select it over other religious organisations?

That’s what furious Sengkang residents want to know.

In Redwire’s first expose on Life Corp, we revealed that Life Corp set up a $1 company, Eternal Pure Land just days before the tender to bid for the temple/columbarium contract.

Eternal Pure Land won the bid, and will own, develop and manage the temple/columbarium site.

But, how?

Questions have been raised, as to whether Life Corp, is pulling a tactical stunt just so it can acquire the area in Sengkang.

There’s also been greater calls from the public for the HDB to come clean on its selection process before awarding the contract to Life Corp’s Eternal Pure Land.

After all, it’s a $1 company started by Life Corp which used to deal in regenerative medicine (which means it used to specialise in keeping people alive, until 2013 when it bought over Singapore Funeral Services), which beat other religious organisations to win the contract.

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of the dialogue session held by Sengkang West MP Lam Pin Min, Life Corp CEO Simon Hoo and residents on Sunday (4Jan).

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

Simon Hoo, Chief Executive Officer of Life Corporation Pte Ltd (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: If that is the case, is Life Corp/Eternal Pure Land registered as a religious organisation in Singapore?

 

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

 

Sharon then said turn to the audience and said, “Ok, no.”

 

The audience applauded.

 

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

 

Simon (speaking in Mandarin): No.

 

The audience applauded further.

 

Sharon: Is it a registered charity?

 

Simon: No.

 

The applause grew louder.

 

Sharon: 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: Yes, yes.

 

Even more applause came from the audience now.

 

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

 

The audience went wild with applause.

 

Sharon (continued): 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 …

 

Her question became drowned out by the rousing applause from the audience.

 

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: But Mr Lam, if he (Life Corp and Simon) does not belong to any religious groups, how can they call it a Chinese Temple?

 

“Basket,” someone off-camera uttered.

 

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

 

“Why not explain now?” another person off-camera shouted.

 

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 questions.

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