Dragon mural put up for Chinese New Year at Tampines block removed by town council even though vice-chairman Baey Yam Keng suggested letting it stay up

Couple's gesture of festive cheer removed by town council due to no formal approval

The mural in the lift lobby was crafted using white vinyl stickers and emulates the iconic Toa Payoh dragon playground
The mural in the lift lobby was crafted using white vinyl stickers and emulates the iconic Toa Payoh dragon playground. (PHOTO:GreenVinessg)

SINGAPORE — A couple residing in Tampines decided to celebrate Chinese New Year with their neighbours by creating a dragon mural in the common area of their HDB block on Saturday (3 Feb).

However, the stickers they used to create the mural, which references the Toa Payoh dragon playground, were removed two days later by the town council workers, as the couple had not requested for formal approval before they put up their artwork.

Speaking to The Straits Times under the condition of anonymity, the husband said that the couple wanted to brighten the mood in the neighbourhood and say “hello” to their neighbours as they had just moved into the Tampines GreenVines Build-To-Order project.

They spent at least an hour designing and assembling the artwork at the lift lobby of Block 640B Tampines Street 62. The white vinyl stickers they used do not leave marks on the walls and the couple planned to remove them after Chinese New Year, shared the husband.

Considerations for public displays

Tampines GRC MP and vice-chairman of Tampines Town Council Baey Yam Keng told The Straits Times he was aware of the existence of this mural as one of the residents had told him about it on 5 February.

Though he knew it was not allowed as the lift lobby area was common property, Baey said he had suggested that the town council let the mural stay up until the end of Chinese New Year as no damage was done. However, before his suggestion could be passed down, the mural was removed.

The town council told The Straits Times that the cleaner who had removed the stickers of the mural was following the cleaning and maintenance protocols.

For such murals, approvals are required to ensure compliance with by-laws and to balance the differing needs for public displays. Before deciding, the town council also considers whether the decorations will clutter the common areas or obscure safety signs.

Under the town council by-laws, common property should not be removed, destroyed, damaged or defaced. Any costs incurred by the town council in restoring the damaged property can be recovered from the person responsible.

Baey hopes dragon mural incident does not set precedent for change in regulations

While Baey said he appreciated his residents' effort to beautify the common area, he hopes that this incident does not set a precedent for a change in regulations. As it is challenging to define what can and cannot be done, he told The Straits Times he preferred to “treat it case by case”.

Though the town council has said that it will allow the mural to be displayed until the end of Chinese New Year if the couple puts it up again, the husband said that they have no plans to do so. However, he told The Straits Times he was glad that “residents have seen it and liked it” and that it has been a conversation starter amongst his neighbours.

Residents of Block 640B who spoke to The Straits Times shared that they found the mural to be a pleasant and welcoming sight.

The owner of the Instagram account, greenvines.sg, also wrote that they found it “strange that they [town council] are so active in enforcing the rules for such initiatives to improve the community but don’t proactively remove the many advertisements defacing the walls of the lift lobby and lifts.”

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