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Chinatown mural of samsui woman holding cigarette to remain unchanged with building owner fined S$2,000

The Chinatown mural of a samsui woman holding a cigarette will remain unchanged despite public debate. The building owner was however fined S$2,000 for unauthorized works.



The controversial Chinatown mural featuring a samsui woman holding a cigarette will remain unchanged, according to a joint statement released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday, 10 July.

The decision comes after a period of public debate and feedback regarding the mural, which has sparked significant discussion among Singaporeans.

In the statement, the URA and MOH clarified that the mural is considered an art piece rather than an advertisement for tobacco, which would be against the law.

They acknowledged that the artwork, while not explicitly promoting smoking, could be seen as normalising the habit, which conflicts with MOH’s policies. Despite these concerns, the authorities have decided not to alter the mural.

“This is in view of the fact that the mural is not an advertisement for tobacco, which is against the law, and is largely perceived as an art piece,” stated the URA and MOH.

However, they noted the mural’s potential to “normalise smoking” and emphasized the importance of addressing this issue without modifying the artwork.

The building owner was fined S$2,000 on Wednesday for carrying out unauthorised works on the conserved building and for continuing with the works despite reminders to obtain approval.

The mural artist, Sean Dunston, had shared on Instagram on 19 June that he was instructed by the URA to remove the cigarette from the mural by 3 July. However, following public feedback, the URA informed the landlord on 21 June that they would re-evaluate their stance.

In the joint statement, the authorities highlighted the diversity of public opinion, with some expressing concern about the normalisation of smoking, while others argued that the mural should be preserved as an art piece.

“Most members of the public do not see this as an advertisement for cigarettes,” they said. The URA and MOH appreciated the constructive and respectful tone of the public discourse.

Criticism from netizens has been vocal, with many questioning the initial directive to alter the mural. Commenters on social media platforms, particularly on Mr Dunston’s Instagram post, expressed their support for the mural and questioned why the URA responded to a single complaint.

Many emphasized that the mural accurately depicted historical realities and should not be changed based on contemporary sensibilities.

In addressing the fine imposed on the building owner, the authorities reiterated the importance of adhering to conservation and protection guidelines for Singapore’s built heritage.

They stressed that proposals for murals on conserved buildings must be submitted for approval before any work commences to ensure cultural sensitivities and values are considered.

“As murals on conserved buildings are prominent visual markers that enhance the character of our conservation districts, URA requires all owners of conserved buildings to submit their mural proposals for approval,” the statement read.

The authorities concluded by reminding owners of conserved buildings to obtain the necessary approvals before starting any work, warning that failure to comply would result in enforcement actions, including prosecution for severe cases.

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So next time can URA just tell us
‘WE WANT $$$$$!”
It saves time and efforts!

Simply change the cigarette to an image of a GST voucher, lor. A combined representation of old and new, the people and the G, free riders and votes-buying pappies. The perfect SG story.

To Loong and Cronies, I not your Google Singtel and Nokia entity. Stop trying to overlord ppl everyday. I do not want to play your arse politicians, celebs and Oppo game of got star no star. Irritating to hell!

So much time & discussion just for a mural…
How good if these ppl & gov were debating on our cost of living or certain other issues in our country.


Last edited 3 days ago by Blankslate

How about an artist being commissioned to do a piece on acrobat and he came up with the performer hanged upside down on a rope, arms stretched  out looking like a cross. A white bird hangs from the mouth. Should we be wondering whether it is satanist in disguise? 

When commission   to do specifically a given subject, make sure there is no ambiguity. 

Oye, Samsui Woman Smoke Opium Lah.
WTF is wrong with these people.

Really wondering which Fuckart in Singapore is Trying to Be ala Puritan LKY.
Please keep me posted?
My keen friends would like a word or maybe more.

Very very similar to previous GEs.


There are increasing 3 fold 5 fold PAID ‘wu liao’s who sold their balls, brains to PAP when it’s so ez to interpret their THUMBS DOWNS her in GUTZY, announcing 100 per cent GE IS SOON soon soon..

This tell take sign is sooooo bloody amateurish to detect.

It’s a nice painting. Enjoy it. It won’t be there permanently. So what is the fuss about? It is much to do about nothing.Civil service too free?


Last edited 4 days ago by Blankslate

The mistake by the artist is that he didn’t include a pap collar pin on the samsui woman mural. The concern about it promoting smoking is just a smokescreen.

I remember reading a report many years ago of some residents in Malaysia who objected to the cross that adorned the facade of a church. While many were concerned that the young could be influenced by the presence of the cross and the church (probably thinking the young would convert) there were others who were more accepting and thought that such opposition reflected on their own shortcomings. Does anybody then think a mural of a Samsui woman smoking a cigarette going to encourage Singaporeans to smoke? Is it normalising smoking just having a Samsui woman holding a cigarette? Thus, as… Read more »

Its art. Some of us are quite curious how “the art” ought to be interpreted. Given a different set of “clothing”, she could be a street worker in those days. Don’t think samsui women will ever hold their cig that way looking like that. That said, nothing against street worker. Its the economy.

An unknown complainant also filed a complaint that an old building along Oxley rise is in a state of disrepair and has been left unattended since the demise of the owner.

As public safety is utmost, the building must be demolished.

Progressive SG should also mean that the Oxley house be demolished as willed by LKY. What value has the decision to retain it gained for Singaporeans thus far??? Maybe Ah Loong retire there to catch spiders like in his youth, hor?


Modern Progressive SG under this pre-historical dated PAP? My foot.

Keeping law and order? My next foot.

Demonstration of authoritative power, letting go to remind whose the boss, whose laws more likely is the message for sheeps whom shall be killed for COTTON , keep in mind folks

Modern Progressive SG under this pre-historical dated PAP? My foot.

Keeping law and order? My next foot.

Demonstration of authoritative power, letting go to remind whose the boss, whose laws more likely is the message for sheeps whom shall be killed for wool, keep in mind folks.

Censorship is like cancer. It grows and ultimately will decimate it’s host.

The question arises now if prior approval was sought will the so call group think authorities approve the mural. The general public is not involved at approval stage or is the URA planning to get a public view before approving so relevant feed back like in this case can be given. URA and MOH care to comment. Then it is better to do the “crime” and get the public involved for support and pay the fine afterwards. 1.5million Sgeans will get at least 450 dollars next month I am sure they will like to con tribute $1 at least for… Read more »

To truly stir up this diabolically ludicrous and laughable situation, … a tobacco company ought to step in here and offer to pay that fine, … and perhaps a bit more to the shop~owner and artist, for rights and permission to an agreed and specified number, … to use this very mural as the front display on their cigarette packs and promote it as a “special edition” !!!

That ought to drive home the tripartism of total idiocy, lunacy and stupidity, … on the part of the URA, MOH and that dick of a complainant !!!

Ministry of Health needs to be involved…for an art piece? Normalising smoking? What sort of narcotics are they taking?

Only in Uniquely Singapore where actions that beautify the area at your own expense result in fines from the ruling government.

Remember, they are doing all of this unproductive nonsense at taxpayer expense. What does the general public gain from this whole debacle?

Last edited 4 days ago by Blankslate

The question we need to ask is “Who Is the lone complainant that got URA to respond so speedily? Is he or she a PSP, politically sensitive person that yield so much influence? Giving the owners a $2000 fine is just fining for the sake of fining so that URA will not be faulted by the PSP person (if indeed) for doing nothing IMO.

PAP Administration practising medieval style of politics. And they believe they are the best social engineers – my hairy… My foot.

But in modernity they reward themselves Millions of Dollars of Salaries, not medieval, BUT out of this world.