Panel Formed to Tackle Unacceptable Neighbourhood Noise Such As Slamming of Doors


If you’re like the typical average Singaporean, you’ve probably experienced your share of being disturbed by loud noises in the neighbourhood.

And if you might’ve wondered to yourself if anyone is going to get that neighbour of yours who’s drilling in their house at 9am on a Sunday to stop.

Well, it seems like someone will soon.

Committee to Handle Unacceptable Neighbourhood Noise Formed

You might remember that back in March, during the Ministry of National Development’s debate on its spending plans, the establishment of a panel to handle unacceptable neighbourhood noises was announced.

The Municipal Services Office (MSO) and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) clarified that it was due to the rise in the amount of noise-related feedback from residents.

An increase in feedback has been seen from 2020 onwards, likely since more residents have been spending longer periods of time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And just yesterday (29 April), the personnel involved in making up the panel was announced.

Who Makes Up the Panel

On 29 April, it was mentioned that the panel will be made up of nine individuals who hail from the the social, academia and people sectors, as well as the MSO and the MCCY.

The panel will be led by Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement. Other members of the panel include:

  • Dr Foo Fung Fong, executive director of Filos Community Services
  • Professor of audio engineering Gan Woon-Seng, director of Smart Nation Lab at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mr Isman Abdul Rahman, vice-chairman of the Woodlands Community Club’s management committee
  • Ms Lela Kaur, master mediator at the Community Mediation Centre
  • Dr Leong Chan-Hoong, head of policy development, evaluation and data analytics at Kantar Public
  • Ms Susan Ng, CNA938 presenter
  • Mr Raymond Poh Jen Chye, vice-chairman of the Tampines Central Citizens Consultative Committee
  • Dr Sathish Sritharan, chairman of the Taman Jurong Zone D Residents’ Network

“These members have experience and expertise in managing municipal issues, advocating positive social norms, mediating disputes as well as in acoustic engineering,” a statement put out by the panel mentioned.

What Will the Panel Do

Apart from determining what level of noises are considered “unacceptable”, the committee will also be in charge of writing up a guideline for noise levels in decibels.

Some activities that may be taken into account include the dragging of furniture, slamming of doors or playing of loud music.

Thereafter, the panel will then come up with a set of community norms by end-2022.

This set of norms will act as a standard gauge for public advisories, and will also be used during mediation sessions at the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals (CDRT).

The relevant agencies have confirmed that they will be collaborating with the panel to hold public consultation sessions from June onwards this year.

MSO has also said that it will be carrying out research to “identify relevant practices from other countries”. These practices will also help the panel form their recommendations.


What the Panel Has to Say

Dr Wan mentioned that the panel is looking to testing noise levels of various activities in decibels so as to determine what level of noise in the neighbourhood is “unacceptable”.

“Noise is subjective, so we are trying to make it less ambiguous. We need to listen to those who have done the research and figure out the way to effectively and efficiently measure noise levels, and break it down so people can understand,” he explained.

For reference, the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) limit on the amount of noise that can be generated for construction work at residential buildings located less than 150m from the construction site is 75dBA, a decibel scale measure.

75dBA is the maximum amount of noise allowed from 7am to 7pm on Mondays to Saturdays. During the same timeframe, up to 90dBA of noise is allowed for a period of five minutes.

In addition to that, the panel will also look into whether or not the quiet hours, where residents are encouraged to reduce the noise generated from their units, should be tweaked.


As of now, the quiet hours in Singapore are from 10.30pm to 7am.

Dr Leong Chan-Hoong, who heads policy development, evaluation and data analytics at consulting firm Kantar Public, brought up how different neighbours may have different interpretations as to what is considered a “nuisance” or noisy.

“Some noises may be transient or hard to control or avoid, such as crying babies, and the tolerance to each of the occasions may vary considerably,” he observed.

He also emphasised the panel’s hopes of Singaporeans becoming more empathetic with regards to how their actions may impact others living around them.

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Mr Isman Abdul Rahman, the vice-chairman of the Woodlands Community Club’s management committee, also added that he has come across a greater number of noise dispute cases since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“Hopefully, the community will take (the recommendations) as a way to resolve noise issues amicably, in the spirit of being neighbourly,” he explained.


Dr Wan highlighted how the aim for the panel is to teach members of the public the importance of being “considerate and kind” to each other.

“If we inculcate neighbourliness, (residents) will be comfortable to approach each other and talk about the issue, instead of taking it to the authorities straightaway and make the other feel like they’ve committed a great offence.

“Living in harmony is about being considerate and understanding, such as when special needs children make loud noises. As good neighbours, we have to give and take,” he concluded.

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