A funeral parlour's licence has been suspended and its licensee will be charged after an error led to the cremation of a wrong body
The Straits Times reported about the mix-up that happened at Harmony Funeral Care on Monday, 30 December, which is believed to be the first reported case of a wrong body being cremated in Singapore.
The family of the deceased were at their home's void deck to prepare for the wake when they were informed by staff of the funeral parlour that Kee Kin Tiong, 82, had already been cremated.
Kee was a Taoist, however, his send-off was done according to Christian traditions and funeral rites
"According to our beliefs, it is required that the deceased's body be allowed to 'rest' for a minimum of three days before it is cremated. We weren't even able to do that for my father-in-law, because of what happened," Kee's son-in-law, who only wanted to be known as Ho, said as quoted by The Straits Times.
Ho added that the funeral home said that a male employee had caused the mix-up when he collected Kee's body by mistake from the embalmer.
The body, which was placed in a closed coffin, was taken to the Christian funeral of a 70-year-old man that morning instead, and was later cremated at Mandai Crematorium.
Both bodies of the men were kept in the same room at Century Products, a funeral parlour with embalming facilities
The male employee told Kee's family that he had verified which body to collect only by "facial recognition"
Ho asked to view the CCTV footage at the undertaker and records of the time that Kee's body was collected, but the funeral home rejected his request.
"They told us the CCTV footage from the night of 29 December to the morning of 30 December was not there," the son-in-law added, as quoted by The Straits Times.
Harmony Funeral Care also declined to mention what happened to the 70-year-old man's body and whether his family had been notified of the mix-up.
In response to the incident, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has issued a notice to suspend the licence of Century Products
According to CNA, investigations revealed that documents of bodies received or removed from its premises were not properly recorded.
The licensee will be charged under the Environmental Public Health (Funeral Parlours) Regulations for the infringements.
According to The Straits Times, those convicted will face a fine of up to SGD1,000 (RM3,000) and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine of up to SGD2,000 (RM6,000).
"The National Environment Agency takes a serious view of licensees who fail to ensure that their funeral parlours with embalming facilities keep proper records and uphold environmental hygiene standards," an NEA spokesperson was quoted as saying by CNA.
The actions of Harmony Funeral care were also looked into
In the report by CNA, NEA added that the funeral director did not ensure proper handling of the body, thus resulting in the "egregious error".
As such, Harmony Funeral Care has been barred from using government after-death facilities at Mandai Crematorium and Choa Chu Kang Crematorium and Cemetery until it can prove to NEA that precautionary measures will be put in place to prevent such errors from occurring in the future.