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Amendments to the Preservation of Monuments Act

The Preservation of Monuments (Amendment) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 4 October 2021 to enhance the preservation and promotion of National Monuments – places and spaces of special significance to Singapore and Singaporeans and important markers of our shared heritage.

  1. The Preservation of Monuments (Amendment) Bill (“the Bill”) was introduced in Parliament today, to enhance the preservation and promotion of National Monuments – places and spaces which are of special significance to Singapore and Singaporeans, and important markers of our shared heritage.
  2. The Preservation of Monuments Act (PMA) was enacted in 19701, and sets out the powers of the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and the National Heritage Board (NHB), to preserve and protect National Monuments. These include the powers to gazette National Monuments, require monument owners or occupiers to carry out preservation, maintenance or repair works, and to address non-compliance with the safeguards and protections provided for National Monuments. At present, there are 73 National Monuments in Singapore.
  3. The Bill proposes amendments to update the PMA in two key areas:

    a) An expanded definition of ‘monument’, to allow the preservation of more potential sites of heritage value;

    b) Strengthened provisions to protect the physical character and historical significance of National Monuments.

    Expanded definition of “monument”

  4. The current definition of “monument” in the PMA allows for the preservation of buildings and structures, as well as sites containing the remains of any such building or structure. The proposed amendments will expand the definition of “monument” in the PMA to allow for the preservation of “any site”, defined as any open space, any inland waters, or any area of land containing anything that evidences human activity, present or past, including an intact building or buildings. Related amendments have also been proposed to ensure that there are specific protections to safeguard any such sites gazetted as National Monuments.
  5. These amendments will allow the preservation of sites with no remains, such as the Padang. The Government’s intention to gazette the Padang as a National Monument had been announced in August 2019. The Padang is a site of high heritage value in the collective memory and consciousness of many generations of Singaporeans.

    Strengthened protections for National Monuments

  6. The other proposed amendments will ensure that National Monuments are adequately protected from unauthorised works which may affect their character and significance. For example, the proposed amendments will allow NHB to serve an Enforcement Notice (EN) and put a stop to any operation or activity, if it makes the professional assessment that these place a National Monument at risk of being destroyed, removed, damaged or altered.
  7. The proposed amendments will align NHB’s powers of enforcement for National Monuments, with those under the Planning Act for conserved buildings. As buildings, structures and sites deemed to have greater national and historical significance, National Monuments should enjoy a similar, if not higher, level of protection compared to conserved buildings.
  8. These protections will also apply to buildings or sites that are the subject of a notice under PMA subsection 11(7)(a) issued to its owner and/or occupier informing them of the intention to make a Preservation Order for their property. This will ensure that such properties are adequately protected while the status of the property is given due consideration.
  9. This update of the PMA is part of the efforts by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and NHB under Our SG Heritage Plan to further safeguard our built heritage for future generations of Singaporeans.

Issued by:
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

 

1 The PMA was amended in 1985, and later in 2009 when the then-Preservation of Monuments Board merged with NHB.

 

Last updated on 04 October 2021