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Singapore

Fewer complaints about joss paper burning during this year’s lunar seventh month

The number of complaints during the Hungry Ghost month this year fell by about 13 per cent compared to the same period in 2021.

SINGAPORE: There were fewer complaints about joss paper burning during the Chinese seventh month this year, according to figures released by the Municipal Services Office (MSO) on Monday (Oct 31).

There were 2,999 complaints during this year’s Hungry Ghost Festival period, which falls during the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

This is about 13 per cent less than the figure of 3,441 during the same period in 2021. There were 4,333 complaints in 2020.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann credited the drop in complaints to recent efforts by an alliance of religious and community groups that seeks to educate the public on the proper way of burning joss paper.

The Alliance for Action on Norms for Joss Paper Burning, launched in July, comprises 10 organisations including the Singapore Buddhist Federation, the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, the Taoist Federation, as well as the Singapore Religious Goods Merchants Association.

To tackle the problem of indiscriminate joss paper burning, the alliance launched a public education campaign which focused on correcting misconceptions and myths associated with joss paper burning.

For instance, some devotees believe that it is tradition to toss joss paper into the air. So the alliance focused on correcting that misconception by stating that joss paper should be burnt during worshipping, and not tossed or scattered.

Their outreach efforts and campaign messages were featured at getai shows and on Chinese radio programmes.

Posters reminding people of the dos and don’ts of joss paper burning were also put up in neighbourhoods and supermarkets, next to where joss paper products were being sold.

When asked whether the Government will consider more punitive measures to clamp down on indiscriminate joss paper burning, Ms Sim said this might not be so effective.

“Because joss paper burning is a long-standing cultural practice, it will really be more effective if practitioners were to adopt the norms of joss paper burning and internalise them over time,” said Ms Sim.

She added that the alliance will continue its work in educating the public and also look into how it can address the issue of burning joss paper along common corridors in HDB blocks.

Source: CNA/vl(gs)

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