SINGAPORE – A cleaner has been fined $2,200 for “knowingly and wilfully” discarding a coffin into the Kallang River, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Saturday (Sept 28).

Two rectangular boxes – which turned out to be the inner and outer crates of a single coffin – were sighted floating on the Kallang River near Upper Boon Keng Road on May 8 this year. The NEA was alerted to the unusual find and they were briskly removed in the afternoon the same day.

The cleaner, Mr Rajasingam Ramasamy, was engaged by a casket company to dispose of the coffin but he failed to do so, said a NEA spokesman.

The coffin was used to repatriate a body back to Singapore and was meant to be hacked up into pieces of wood and disposed of as regular trash.

“NEA’s investigations found that the accused had knowingly and wilfully discarded the coffin into the river, and his irresponsible actions had caused public alarm,” NEA said in a statement.

Waterways are meant to convey rainwater to reservoirs or the sea, NEA said. Businesses and members of the public must keep the waterways clean by not polluting or discharging bulky items into them.

The maximum sentence for indiscriminate disposal of bulky waste is a fine of up to $5,000 for a first court conviction, and up to $10,000 or jail for up to three months or both for subsequent convictions.