Monuments of Singapore to get new lease of life

The heritage buildings in Singapore will get a new lease of life as the National Heritage Board (NHB) has doubled the amount for the maintenance and upkeep of these buildings. It has also expanded the scope of maintenance work.

From now onwards, works such as removal of vegetation close to a monument to prevent damage, maintenance works for lightning protection will be eligible for the Maintenance Fund under NMF.

Abdul Gafoor Mosque will receive fund from National Heritage Board for the maintenance work.
Abdul Gafoor Mosque will receive fund from National Heritage Board for the maintenance work. Photo courtesy: roots.

Making this announcement today, Jean Wee, director of the Preservation of Sites and Monuments (PSM) division of the National Heritage Board (NHB), said, “To ensure that the National Monuments Fund remains relevant, our monument inspectors conduct periodic inspections of the National Monuments and regularly invites feedback from our monument owners to review the scope of the Fund. The Maintenance Fund category was expanded as a result of this, so as to further enable monument owners to implement preventive measures in more comprehensive ways.”

She added, “Trees and vegetation can affect monuments and environment. For example, when leaves get stuck in the rooftop, we have to think about how do you clear it away and make sure breeding of mosquitoes don’t take place.”

About 17 national monuments in Singapore will receive SGD2.2 million for the maintenance work in 2017.

The recipients include Abdul Gafoor Mosque at Dunlop Street, Chesed-El Synagogue at Oxley Rise, Church of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Upper Serangoon Road and Sri Mariamman Temple at South Bridge Road. 

National Heritage Board in Singapore is entrusted with the work of administering the fund and supporting monument owners in the upkeep and restoration of Singapore’s National Monuments. Last year, it introduced the maintenance component to help monument owners conduct regular work to prevent building deterioration and prevent significant restoration costs down the road. This is on top of the existing Restoration Fund. 

Sri Mariamman Temple at South Bridge Road
Sri Mariamman Temple at South Bridge Road is one of the oldest temple in Singapore. Photo courtesy: wizardofwonders

Wee said, “We are happy to see the good take-up by monument owners to undertake an expanded scope of works as this reflects their increased commitment and care towards preserving our built heritage in the long run.”

The National Monument Fund (NMF) was first introduced in 2008 with a pool of SGD5 million dedicated to monument restoration works. In 2015, it got a boost from a second tranche of SGD11.77 million, including SGD2 million set aside for maintenance. 

Of the disbursement for 2017, about SGD200,000 will be used to co-fund Maintenance works. This is double the amount awarded under the Maintenance Fund last year. 

Some of the beneficiaries of this expanded Maintenance Fund is the Chesed-El Synagogue, gazetted as a National Monument in 1998, and Abdul Gafoor Mosque gazetted in 1979. The largest beneficiary for this year is the Church of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, receiving SGD900,000. 

The mosque, which received half a million, is working with conservators and specialists on maintenance works such as structural investigation of its roof and pinnacles, with the support of the Maintenance Fund.