Funeral parlours cry foul over ‘monopoly’ of Hindu Covid-19 bodies

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Funeral parlours are crying foul over the alleged monopoly of one company in managing the funeral arrangements for Hindu Covid-19 victims in the Klang Valley.

The allegation was first made by Negri Sembilan Human Resources, Farming and Non-Muslim Affairs Committee chairman J Arul Kumar, who yesterday accused a company of charging exorbitant fees for the funeral arrangements and burdening the next-of-kin.

Funeral parlours, speaking to the New Straits Times on the condition of anonymity, claimed that the monopoly issue emerged several months ago.

A spokesman for one funeral parlour claimed that it began when some political parties began donating containers to government hospitals to store the victims’ bodies.

The spokesman claimed that when family members stepped forward to claim the body, one company, which claimed it is linked with the political parties, would inform them that they are the only ones who can legitimately manage the final rites.

This, claimed the spokesman, leaves families with no choice but to engage them and pay the amount they charge.

“They will have their people on standby at the hospital near the containers. Once they know about the deaths, they will come in.

“They will tell family members that no other parlours but they can claim the bodies,” he said.

The NST also spoke to another funeral company, which said the management of Covid-19 funerals should not be exorbitant.

He estimated that the average cost of regular funerals for non-Covid-19 victims would be around RM2,500 upwards. However, given that funerals for Covid-19 victims would require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), the cost would be slightly higher.

“However, it shouldn’t go up by that much, maybe a few hundred ringgit.

“But given that some quarters appear to be monopolising the funeral arrangements, who knows how much they are charging these families,” he claimed.

Another funeral services company based in Kuala Lumpur also alluded to “invisible hands” driving up the exorbitant fees.

“It is a mess, but no one will step forward to blow the whistle on this matter.

“While it may be the act of few people, the industry at large will face the repercussions if this blows up,” he said, declining to divulge further details on the matter. – NST