TODAY Reader Asks Why NEA Not Doing More To Enforce Rules Against People Who Anyhowly Burn Offerings


For those who have been scrolling through their Facebook or Instagram feeds, you might have noticed several complaints surfacing due to the 7th month’s burning of offerings.

Things like this:

And this:

Seems like these inconsiderate acts are sprouting out as 7th month continues.

These incidents have either burnt a hole in the car owner’s pocket or resulted in people ranting online.

Image: Giphy

TODAY Reader Expresses Concerns On Lack Of Regulations To Control Where Offerings Should Be Burnt

On 26 Aug 2020, a member of the public wrote to TODAY to express concerns about the hungry ghost month festivities this year.

It was pointed out that at places of worship like the temple and columbaria, people do not anyhowly burn offerings anywhere because there are rules and people enforcing them.

But, it’s different at public places because even though the same rules apply, they are seemingly not enforced by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and town councils.

You can see joss papers scattered around and food left behind, the writer noted.


The reader suggests that the NEA should work together with the Singapore Buddhist Federation and the Singapore Taoist Federation to educate their members about the proper way to burn their offerings at public spaces.

NEA should also deploy more officers, joined by members of both federations, to patrol estates.

No Rules, Only Advice

There are currently no regulations with regards to the burning of incense in public places according to the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment.

Image: Giphy

Instead, there are guidelines available to educate the public on the dos and don’ts when burning offerings.

Here’s one from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF):

Image: Facebook (SCDF)

SCDF also urges the general public to avoid placing joss sticks on grass patches or fields.

Here’s another from NEA:

Image: NEA

Not only will such inconsiderate acts draw flaks from netizens, but they’re also a potential cause for fire hazards.

For example:


Throwing Joss Paper No Longer Needed

Recently, local blogger Benjamin Lee took to Facebook to express his unhappiness with devotees who threw joss paper in the air and litter the place.

He had worded his opinion strongly at first but changed his tune after he was informed that it’s a practice as these offerings are for the departed who have no family members to burn offerings to them.

UPDATE: A commenter has explained that the throwing of kim zua AROUND the bonfire instead of in it is to distribute it…

Posted by Benjamin "Mr Miyagi" Lee on Wednesday, 19 August 2020

However, if you believe in this practice as well, it’s been mentioned that the practice is no longer needed.

Religious leaders have come out to say that throwing joss paper into the air, leaving them lying haphazardly around the area is unsightly and a potential fire hazard.

The myResponder App

Before you pick up the phone and call for help, there’re actually some occasions where people living around you can assist.


The myResponder app developed by SCDF will help you sort things out.

Image: SCDF

If you happen to spot a small fire incident, here’s what you can do with myResponder: Activate the Community First Responders (CFRs) aka your friendly neighbourhood firefighters to come over and help with the situation.

The CFRs respond to incidents within 400 meters from their locations. They can help extinguish small fires within the first few minutes by using available resources near them, such as fire extinguishers or water buckets.

The most ideal situation to minimise all these hassles?

Just burn the offerings within the designated spots. Everyone (including the ghostly spirits) will be proud of you.


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