So Eternal Pure can’t build its temple-cum-columbarium in Sengkang after all. National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the G didn’t know it was a purely commercial company and had nothing to do with religion. Here’s a peek at what happened from the point of view of the company
They were dead on the money. What could be better than going into real estate in Singapore? Shoe-box apartments for the living might go empty, but a shoe-box for the dead? Everybody needs a shoe box sooner or later, unless they prefer to be set adrift in the sea. And in Singapore, with its ageing population, people will be queuing up to see the showflat. Plus, this niche property development won’t be subject to the vagaries of G controls, or debt servicing ratios. Yep! A columbarium it is!
The members of the Living or Dead company based Down Under congratulated themselves on hitting on the idea. Their underground cavern shook. Claws were sharpened. Bones jangled. Saliva dripped. Until someone intoned zombie-like that private columbariums were already in existence and buying land would drain the company’s coffers. It might prove a dead loss. What the hell!
There was a deadly silence, until a bony one suggested bidding for land intended for a religious purpose. Why not build the shell and rent it out to a religious organization? And then build a columbarium on the side?
Somebody guffawed, clapping his paws. What a heaven-sent idea! These temples and churches don’t have much money (and City Harvest is busy in court), they could out bid any one of them for the land. A small, cautious voice piped up: Is this allowed? Won’t the G check to see if a religious group was bidding for the plot? Then it would a dead end…
The fanged one looked up from his red liquid diet. Private companies were already allowed to bid for land for religious purposes, he said. These G fellas assume that the companies are set up by the religious organisations or in some kind of joint venture…
“Assume? They don’t check?’’ asked a clawed one.
“Naah. Haven’t done so in 20 years…’’ replied the fanged one. “But we will need a name that sounds religious…’’
After some brain-storming which did not include the headless one, they decided on Heavenly Life. They dug into their pickets and unearthed $20m, setting aside $5.2 m for the bid. Of course, they won. The Living or Dead members thought they would be safe for all eternity, drawing an income from Singaporeans’ obsession with real estate. They didn’t reckon that their plot would be undone by….Singaporeans’ obsession with real estate.
The members met a second time to discuss the dark forces massing to attack their proposed columbarium. The living was unhappy about living next to the dead. The homes of living were their places of rest, the living said, and they can’t rest easy next to the resting places of the rest. Plus, the value of their homes would go down.
The fanged one, draining his cup, insisted that the Singapore G was good in the way that it would refuse to climb down despite the noise. “It is not in its DNA,’’ he said knowingly. “I’ve had a taste of it.’’
The clawed one wasn’t so sure. He preferred to slash the residents and accuse them of nimby-ness. “Let’s attack that front, and hopefully, we will keep our plot and our other plot won’t be discovered.’’
But things were not to be.
It wasn’t nimby-ness that killed the plans of the Living or Dead. Residents had discovered the plot and raised a stink to high heaven about the G awarding the plot to a commercial company.
The G said it had never intended the plot to go to commercial companies. It just hadn’t caught up with private sector’s dark and nefarious ways of making money and didn’t think to ward it off with any garlic, wooden stakes or special incantations. You know, it’s like how you wouldn’t expect a woman disguised as a man to attend a function that is clearly for men. The word most commonly used: ASSuME
Plus the religious groups were pushing back – and they were people that the G could not afford to antagonise.
The Living or Dead had to stop its shares trading on the stock market Down Under. They re-grouped. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Their underground cavern shook. The fanged one demanded blood. The clawed one broke up the furniture. Only the zombie remained unfazed. He intoned: They could pick a religion – Taoism, Buddhism or any Chinese diety – become converts, start a religious organisation and bid for the land legitimately.
The rest looked up, be-witched by the idea. Until a small, cautious voice piped up and said that the nimby issue would still be an issue. Did the Living or Dead want to waste precious time combating these would-be neighbours? It would drain the life out of them…
The headless one nodded with his foot.
The fanged one picked his teeth.
The clawed one started his manicure.
The bony one rattled.
They wanted revenge.
They turned to the small, cautious one.
With one voice, they said: “Go infest the place.’’