Public consultation necessary in the process of classifying monuments: heritage groups
SINGAPORE – Defenders of heritage call for the public to be involved in the choice of buildings and sites to be classified as monuments.
They add that clear reasons should also be provided for some of the proposed new laws protecting monuments, as well as increased support for building and site owners.
Their appeal follows the introduction of the monument preservation (amendment) bill in parliament in early October.
It aims to extend protection to proposed monuments, which are currently not protected under the Act.
With the changes, authorities will issue a notice to notify owners and / or occupants of these buildings and sites of their intention to issue a conservation order for their property.
Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) President Jack Lee said the extension of protection to proposed monuments was welcome.
However, he added that the process of classifying monuments only involves their owners and occupants and the National Heritage Board (NHB), as well as the owners and occupants of adjacent lands.
“There is no formal procedure for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and members of the public to be consulted in the process,” said Dr Lee, who is an expert member of a subcommittee of the International Council of monuments and sites (Icomos).
The subcommittee focuses on legal, administrative and financial matters.
“If the proposed gazette is not announced in a manner similar to the proposed changes to the master plan, then other people may not realize that their actions on this site are carried out in relation to a proposed national monument and they may unknowingly flout the rules, “he added. .
With the changes, NHB officially places the maintenance of monuments under its responsibility. The amendments also give the Office increased enforcement powers to protect national monuments.
For example, the council can serve a notice of execution and stop any operation or activity if it considers that these place a national monument in danger of being destroyed, removed, damaged or altered.
Dr Lee said that when making, varying or revoking a preservation order, the government should adopt a procedure similar to how preservation proposals are made public.
The conservation proposal process allows objections to be raised before a decision is finalized.
“In general, greater public participation in heritage processes is needed, so that different perspectives can be obtained and taken into account before a decision is made,” Dr Lee said.
Observers said that while the changes to the law reflect that the heritage field is maturing, the reasons why NHB has added some new clauses need to be clarified.