Smoking samsui woman mural to be retained in full, building owner fined for not seeking approval

SINGAPORE: The Chinatown painting of a Samsui girl holding a cigarette, which has sparked much discussion in recent weeks, did remain unmodified or altered.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority ( URA ) and the Ministry of Health ( MOH) both stated in a joint statement on Wednesday ( Jul 10 ), noting that the mural is not an advertisement for tobacco, which is against the law and is largely seen as an art piece.  

The building owner has been fined S$ 2,000 ( US$ 1,480 ) for carrying out unauthorised works on a conserved building, and for continuing with the works despite reminders to obtain approval.

However, the government noted that the painting did normalise tobacco, which is against MOH’s plan.  

MOH would have expressed concerns about the portrayal of smoking being featured in a notable painting like this and requested changes if prior approval had been sought.  

We will therefore collaborate with the building owner to find suitable ways to reduce any potential harm to smoking, without altering the mural itself, according to the joint statement.  

URA and MOH stated in laying out their evaluation and decision regarding the matter that they took into account “diverse views from some members of the public.”

The fresco, according to the authorities, had sparked” a lot of people discussion,” with some people questioning whether smoking is acceptable. Other people even argued that this was a piece of artwork and should be left alone.  

“Most members of the public do not see this as an advertisement for cigarettes, ” said the joint statement.  

“ In common, it has been a productive discussion, conducted in a voice that was calm and respectful. We appreciate the opinions of the general public, according to URA and MOH.  

However, the government said the tower user did not comply with URA’s demands on the conservation and safety of Singapore’s built history.  

URA requires all owners of preserved buildings to send their mural proposals for approval because “marginal paintings on preserved buildings are popular physical markers that boost the character of our conservation districts.”  

The fresco proposal may be reworked in consultation with local authorities and government officials to ensure that the artwork appropriately relates to their area, takes into account social sensibilities and values, enhances public space, and is welcomed by the neighborhood community.

” If important, we will work closely with the building owner on any required modifications. Before work begins, all proposals may get approved by URA. “

The tower owner did not receive acceptance from URA before beginning work on the painting on the preserved building at 297 South Bridge Road.  

URA informed the building owner’s representatives on March 22 that a distribution get requested right away and that acceptance had not yet been obtained for the fresco.  

The tower owner’s representatives were finally informed of the need to get approval before moving forward with the mural works on March 25.  

“Despite this, painting plays continued. The combined statement noted that an application for protection permission was merely submitted on April 11 after the painting was finished.  

The building’s owner was fined for not obtaining protection consent before the work began.

According to the statement, URA will proceed to “work closely ” with relevant organizations and stakeholders to ensure that its guidelines and procedures for murals on preserved buildings not only “safeguard the personality of our preserved buildings and target the larger public interest.”  

Owners of preserved buildings are urged to obtain the necessary certifications before beginning any works. Failing to do so will lead to punishment for criminals, including facing criminal charges for severe offenses. ”