“More are finding it economical to cremate their loved ones and place the urn containing the ashes at columbariums, which are well maintained at all times,” said Lee Chun Kong, president of the Federation of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Chinese Cemetery Associations.
He said governments should allocate more land for columbariums to accommodate more of the deceased.
Citing the 13-storey columbarium complex managed by the Kwong Tong Cemetery Management Kuala Lumpur Association, Lee said each floor could house over 5,000 urns.
“While some still prefer burials, we see a trend of more people switching to cremation due to land scarcity and high costs.
“Over here, burial plots in Chinese cemeteries grow scarce with over 70% of the space used up,” said Lee, who is also the Malaysia Chinese Cemetery Association deputy president.
Lee said the problem was compounded with less land approved for cemeteries over the years.
“Most Chinese cemeteries managed by guilds and clan associations in the country are those that were approved up to a century ago.
“And they are running out of plots,” he said in an interview.
He said the Kwong Tong Cemetery in Kuala Lumpur, one of the oldest and largest Chinese cemeteries in the city, had less than 12ha left.
Lee lauded the Selangor government for giving an annual allocation for the maintenance and beautification of Chinese cemeteries under the Kwong Tong association.
Council of Churches Malaysia general-secretary Dr Hermen Shastri also said there was a trend towards cremation among Christians in the peninsula, with burial remaining the norm in Sabah and Sarawak.
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