gassing my life in a country i loved most - with a gas mask on


Monday, February 09, 2015
A Grave Error Part 2

Sometime in the early months of 2013, I received a confirmation by MUIS on the date of the exhumation. I cannot remember when it was.

On that morning, my sister drove. We picked up the son and son's wife of the deceased uncle and the deceased wife. Mother and father to these two guys. Another cousin, a personality in his own right, would meet us there. My brother-in-law, who is the representative to my wife's father would meet us there. It was early in the morning.

The required plan is for each body that needs to be exhumed to be represented by each living relative. This way, the exhumation would go fast rather than one person having to represent many graves.

My cousin represented our grandmother, my sister represented our aunt who is her favourite aunt. She babysit my sister from young until she could be independent on her own. The son and the wife, who are rightfully long lost cousin of mine represented their father and mother. I followed them. My brother-in-law represented his father.

We all went separate ways, following the respective grave diggers and promised to keep in touch via mobile phone.

It took about two hours just waiting for two grave diggers to dig deep into my uncle/aunt pair. Luckily, they were both very near each other so while the elderly cousins sat in one place witnessing their mother/mother-in-law, I would shuffle back and forth between them and their father/father-in-law. After their mother/mother-in-law's remains is collected, I took them to the father's.

It was a sombre but very very meaningful affair for us. I learned a lot of things from the grave diggers.

- A lot of graves would contain muddy, earthy, clay-ish water inside.
- Women would disintegrate faster than the men, either wholly or leaving some bones or parts of bones.
-  Where a body has turn to dust 100%, the digger would grab a clump of clay as the significant body. They would know what part of the clay to look for
- There are cases where strands of hair are retrieved, and there are cases of a whole body still not disintegrate. Allah wu'alam.
- Along the trip, I saw a yellow clothed grave which is the only single one in the area. I heard the story about it but I forgot. I believe he is of a "habib" or a Muslim saint.

Finally, we gathered at a central processing location where the remnants would be given a bath and clothed in new white sheet. My grandmother's remain are that of bones, my uncle had parts of skull, his wife is totally turned to dust (clay), another aunt that my sister witnessed has also turn into dust. My brother-in-law's father has some remains, I think it was hair clumps or bits of clothings.

But the most fucked up thing, not that it matters but I was surprised with it, is that now they have retrieved 13 bodies to be re-interred in one new crypt! And I clearly remember that MUIS has said, the maximum is 8, stating fatwa in effect!

The remaining eight belongs to the relatives of my wife's father side. I was furious! I swear I will protest after all this reburial is completed.

The best part is that we were given a short break before having to meet at the new meeting point, the new crypt at Pusara Abadi. This was almost 1pm or thereabout. The elderly ones thought that they could go for Zohor prayers so they visited the Pusara Aman mosque to pray. By the time they have completed, it was way after 1pm. So a few of us drove and we lost our way for a tiny few minutes.

Instead of being understanding, the female officer called my mobile several times and shouted at us for being late. Such is the behaviours shown by a Muslim sister.

We arrived at the new location and after which, they lay down all the 13 remains of our beloved ones systematically. Then they offered a prayer before the grave is closed.

When I reached home, I didn't wait to email bomb the respective agencies for being so arrogant and ignoramus to my needs and ending up with 13 remains.

Here I am begging profusely to add my Aunt Zen to make it 6 and end up having 8. In the end, it is 13.

So they break the fatwa by having 13 instead of 8. And they can't break the fatwa of the 15 years mandatory burial. What the fuck? It is so bloody contradicting that they now preach one thing and practice another.

I wrote them a super long love letter and even knocking down on the girl who was rude to us.

Do you know what is the arrogant reply?

So, in that sense, in Malay, "semua peraturan dia langgar". Meaning breaking every single rules. Remember in Part 1, I draw up the fatwas as:-

- The principle is that it is not permissible to exhume the grave and transport the deceased to another place except for a valid Shariah-based reason.   If the mentioned council is responsible for the Muslim cemeteries, then it is assumed that it is keeping the (Islamic) rulings and Shariah interests in mind.


OK, so the validity here is land scarce but land scarce has got nothing to do with Shariah interests or keeping the rulings, plain and simple. This is more of a national and land requisition interest. I am not surprise if they are asked to tear down all mosques to make way for developments and profits. Would they then have make another fatwa? Citizen-level rumours has already gone around that mosques must not have loud Azan especially near neighbourhood and residential. I don't know if it is true or not but one can see there is hardly any call for prayers in most places anymore. This is not to ridicule any entity but if thing happened this way, wouldn't you ask yourself, "If they can do that, they can do this?"

-
In principle a grave should not contain more than one person except in case of necessity or a lawfully considered need, like the narrowness of the space (i.e. if there is a scarcity of graves) and so forth.

As stated, they tried to ease me by saying a maximum of 8 but ended up 13. And even the new crypt is much bigger in width than the narrow old ones. If is really land scarcity, then they would have make a single narrow grave much deeper so that we have a layer after layer of remains. One remain, seal with a wooden plank and then another remain, another plank and so on and so on. However, to my recollection when witnessing the burial, the width would fit two or three full bodied corpse side by side. Hence, what land scarcity are they talking about?

-
Likewise, men and women should not be put together in a single grave except in case of a similar necessity.
Again, this guideline is not followed or it is broken with the reason, "land necessity". As in my case, there are clearly men and women mixed together. Was this guideline adhered to before the decree came out?


-
There is no evidence in the Shariah that limits the time period permitting the exhuming of graves. The criterion is that the deceased's body has decomposed. Shaykh Zakariyya Al-Ansaari said in Asna Al-Mataalib: "Exhuming the grave is forbidden before decomposition according to the experts who are acquainted with that land, lest the sanctity of the deceased be violated. If the deceased did decompose, meaning his body and bones lost form and turned to dust, then exhuming his grave is allowed, as is burying another person in his place."

As mentioned in my experience, some remains are that of skulls, bones and hair clump, meaning it is not turned to dust. Shouldn't that be a no-no? Because there is no way to tell if a body is turned to dust, so whatever the results has to continue. Agreed, it would be a waste of time, money, human resources if every single remains has not fully disintegrated.

You can see that despite every rulings, every decree, nothing is strictly adhered. All I am asking is for a 13/14 year old remains of my Aunt Zen to be unified with the rest. And even that, they give me a hard time.

So do you know what came the reply after I blew my head off?

Thank you for your feedback and May Allah blessed you and your family. Simple as that. I am not surprised that after this asshole of me , they would change some criteria.




Posted at 03:51 am by Mosh Pamo
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Friday, February 28, 2014
A Grave Error Part 1

Sometime in 2012, Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura / Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) sent me a letter stating that they will start exhuming bodies from old graves and re-inter (re-burial) them to a new location in Pusara Abadi.

My grandmother, Zainab bte Maula, was one of them. She passed on in 1984. The requirements by National Environment Agency (NEA), which is in charge of cemeteries, exhumations, reinterment in Singapore, states that graves that are more than 15 years must be exhumed and re-interred. This is also according to the MUIS fatwa or a religious decree by the highest authority which says that it is permissible to do as such.

In the brochure, via email, and telephone conversations, I was allowed to exhume the graves of other relatives to be re-interred with my grandmother, known as the Principal Grave (PG). I can't remember exactly but I was allowed to exhume five relatives so that they can be re-interred together with my grandmother. All of them will then have a crypt on their own. Otherwise, whoever I can find will be joined by the remaining figures to be in one crypt.

For example, I can only get three bodies plus the PG. That means, there will be four other bodies from one different family or families who are all strangers. But if I can get a total of five plus one PG, there will be a crypt solely for them.

I thought this would be a good symbolic idea as I can re-inter my uncles and aunts and their beloved wives and husbands together with my grandmother, hence the sons and daughters get together with their mother. I thought this would be a humbling experience so I set about to find my aunts, uncles and their spouses who had long gone before us. I got the help of my sister and cousin for the hard-to-find NOKs. Practically, everyone of my aunts, uncles and my parents have gone, leaving the second, third and fourth generation of the Banafes.

However, most of my cousins refused, especially those that has both their parents passed on. They decide to have their own period of exhumation when it comes. Fair enough.

I narrowed down to an uncle and his wife, and aunt and my wife's father. There are few others whose graves are more than 15 years old and a few like my parents who are only three years. However, one aunt, I shall called her Aunt Zen, who was about 13 years and this aunt is symbolic to my grandmother. She was the one who took care of grandmother, me and her little brother for many years in Dakota Crescent till grandmother passed away. To me she was the lioness amongst the siblings, though she is not the eldest. She defended grandmother vehemously when someone broke grandmother's arm in that someone's care.

This is an aunt who is the only one not married and who have no kids, so rightfully, I would want her to be re-interred with my grandmother, if that is the last thing I should do. Since I represent the NOK for her, what if I die? What if it is her turn to be re-interred. They can't find me because I am dead. They find the next NOK, they advertised but no reply because all of my cousins are busy or uncontactable. So this woman's body would probably be reburied with the rest of strangers body and marked UNCLAIMED. How sad.

So I go about going to the processes of having her exhume and re-inter with the rest. There was even an application for by MUIS /NEA / Wareesan Management. The application form is more like a special appeal for those below 15 years. It came back unsuccessful because my aunt's grave was only 13 years old at that time. They defended that even upon completion of the re-interment, my aunt grave would only be about be 14 months plus. I was dismayed. Amongst the relatives buried, she is the next available who has been the longest.

I searched the Internet for fatwas and posed question to an Islamic website which came back as:-

- The principle is that it is not permissible to exhume the grave and transport the deceased to another place except for a valid Shariah-based reason. If the mentioned council is responsible for the Muslim cemeteries, then it is assumed that it is keeping the (Islamic) rulings and Shariah interests in mind.

-
In principle a grave should not contain more than one person except in case of necessity or a lawfully considered need, like the narrowness of the space (i.e. if there is a scarcity of graves) and so forth.

-
Likewise, men and women should not be put together in a single grave except in case of a similar necessity.

However, I find the strongest point in the answer as such:-

-
There is no evidence in the Shariah that limits the time period permitting the exhuming of graves. The criterion is that the deceased's body has decomposed. Shaykh Zakariyya Al-Ansaari said in Asna Al-Mataalib: "Exhuming the grave is forbidden before decomposition according to the experts who are acquainted with that land, lest the sanctity of the deceased be violated. If the deceased did decompose, meaning his body and bones lost form and turned to dust, then exhuming his grave is allowed, as is burying another person in his place."

So then, how does one justify a body has decomposed and turned to dust? What if those fifteen year old graves still consist of parts of bones and skulls? Does one has to cancel this exhumation? Of course, if you go by the strict fatwa or decree as stated above, you "may" and you may want and you may have to cancel the exhumation. The irony part about the above paragraph will be covered in Part 2.

So I wrote to appeal to former NEA boss, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim. Came back negative. A while later, the NEA boss changed hand to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. Again, it came back negative. I don't understand, why have an Appeal Application form when you simply won't allow it?

Then I came to discover the various interment procedures all over the world. Hot, humid and tropical countries like UAE, Turkey, Taiwan and a few others has a burial period of 6 to 10 years before they should be reinterred. And we are talking about countries bigger, much bigger, than Singapore.

But yet, Singapore, understandably a small country, requires 15 years. Who exactly decides how many years? I remember asking the person at NEA exhumation burial office; he said NEA would consult with MUIS. They will decide for 15 years. MUIS will then issue a fatwa if it is agreaable, in this case, a yes. Wareesan Management is simply the various arms of MUIS in handling the exhumation/reburial.

So what is 13 years or 14 years for my Aunt Zen's case? It is not I am asking for free. In fact, each supplementary graves that I want to be reburied together with my grandmother cost me $80. I paid $240 for a total of three corpses. My wife's father is also a PG on their side; so there is no cost involved and they are sharing with my PG. Hell, I would even pay double or triple to have Aunt Zen's grave removed.

At the end of it all, I was defeated of all my energy, sweat, tears and as the day comes nearer, I had to settle for my grandmother, my uncle and his wife, another aunt and my wife's father. I thought, that's it, there will be about three more un-related bodies in the new crypt. Not that I care or am offended but it would be nice to have all the related mother-son-daughter meeting up again. Taking it humorously, who knows, my grandmother's soul would talk to her son and daughter, "Hey, how have you been? How did you die?"

On the day of the exhumation, I was in for a shock.

Posted at 02:26 am by Mosh Pamo
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010
CPF Can't Keep Their Mouth Shut Over Nomination Form

My father passed away in September 2008.

I remember I was working with Pixie Cosmetics back then.

Sometime in December 2008, I was checking my salary at the POSB ATM and I notice an increase of about $1,400. Where did it come from? I didn't have time to think back then because it was Christmas Eve and the staff are going for a Christmas lunch.

Then I received a letter from CPF stating that my father had make a nomination for me to received whatever remaining of his CPF account - amounting to $1,400. And he had nominated me in 1974, when I was two years old, estranged from him and living with my mother. That showed how much he had loved me but it wasn't the same for me.

I had never any fatherly love when I was born and even though my mother re-married again. But, I still respect him and looked up to him whenever he pays me a visit at aunt's house.

It was during the last few years when I ended up living in Marine Terrace that I had come to see him more often, visiting him at his Block 16 rented flat and enduring all the nasty and negative stories he had to say about my mother. I chose to be neutral.

But the more our paths crossed in the neighbourhood, the more I had to listen to his story and the more I began to despise him. At his age, he can hardly see let alone notice me passing by him. So I made the most of it to cut a different path when I see him coming.

Anyway, back to the CPF. I have two elder sisters and one elder brother. They are of the same father as me but we have different mothers. I was visiting my sister's shop when she asked me if I knew anyone who could have received the CPF. I shook my head. Everyone wants a piece of the pie but I had it all. They had called CPF and the officer had mentioned that my father had nominated someone and that someone had already received it.

That could easily be narrow down to me, I guess. I called up CPF and check the story which came out to be true. But I am angry that CPF could ever let them know that someone had received the CPF. They could better manage the inquiries by answering that a nomination had been made and if they did not receive any money, then they are not the intended one.

It came out as a sour experience with CPF, one of the many that happened to me or my immediate family. Because of this, my relations with my elder siblings had gone down the drain because they are highly suspicious that I had received the money. I think in their view, they are looking at tens of thousands of dollars. That is what they are afraid of.

I had plans for the $1,400 so I couldn't let my siblings know. I wanted to make a proper grave for him.

Posted at 06:09 am by Mosh Pamo
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