Residents caught on camera burning joss paper right along the common corridor

As much as one HDB resident did not want to appear racist, the health hazard of having plumes of smoke filling up the common corridor outside his unit is pushing him to post on social media about his ordeal.

Worried about his infant child at home, Taufiq Mohamad took to Facebook last night to ask for advice on what he can do to make his neighbors stop burning incense papers along the corridor, just a couple of meters away from his own house. A video clip that accompanied the post showed a small burning bin right outside the neighbor’s house, with thick smoke swirling out. A picture captured someone stoking the fire with a stick.

This is, of course, inconsiderate. HDB house rules state that the burning of religious incense papers and offerings should only be done in burning bins already provided at the building’s external areas. The burning of incense paper is a Taoist tradition commonly seen in public during the Hungry Ghost Festival, but doing so right in front of multiple houses is something that the National Environment Agency (NEA) would take issue against.

“Devotees who wish to burn incense as part of their religious observance should do so with consideration for others,” wrote NEA in an advisory.

“For example, they should burn paper offerings using enclosed containers or containers provided by the Town Councils at various locations within the estates and not damage public property by burning indiscriminately on pavements, common corridors, void decks and other common property. “

For Taufiq’s conundrum, the most obvious option is to talk to his neighbors and encourage them to burn the offerings downstairs instead. If nothing changes, then the authorities can get involved. According to Taufiq’s response to a comment, he did alert the police, but officers only arrived at the scene an hour later, after the neighbors ended their incense burning.

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