So, the New Paper printed a letter which countered the rickety logic of Mr Tan Tuan Khoon and his cousin Mr Lee Chiu San. Mr Lee apparently takes issue with the letter and the letter writer, and guess what? The new paper has printed his gripes.
Here’s Dawn‘s take on it:
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Thanks to Chinky for sending this in. It’s surprising that it seems that Mr Lee is unaware that people have been working for many years to repeal the ban on having cats in flats. CWS has been working on it since its inception and that has been more than the 7 to 10 years that he mentioned. SPCA has also been working on this issue for many years.
During my time with CWS, we got the support of vets, gathered more than 3000 signatures in less than 3 weeks, met the HDB twice with two separate proposals (available online on the old CWS website – it is probably up on the new one as well). Even the AVA had no objections. Before I left CWS, we had sent in another request to meet with the HDB with our new proposal but were turned down flatly as they felt there was no need to revisit this issue.
CWS would have been happy to revisit the issue and we took HDB’s concerns into our new proposals – but what happens when the HDB won’t listen? I am sure that the many of you out there who have written and gotten HDB’s stock reply will sympathetise.
It’s also disingenuous that Mr Lee mentioned the case of Mr Tang. There was no active campaigning to change the law.
So where the arguments illogical then? As most of you know, our suggestion was that all cats be sterilised, microchipped and that there be a limit on cats in flats (subject to a compassionate period for existing cats as they did with the rule on dogs). There would be a register maintained, which we suggested that the RCs could help to maintain. CWS also offered to help with mediation in terms of complaints and advising irresponsible cat owners. We even had a town council willing to implement a pilot project with their RC, but again this was turned down by the HDB.
I was also taken aback that Mr Lee is so quick to tar the entire community of people working with cats with the same brush especially as he is an ex-committee member of the Singapore Cat Club. After all, isn’t this the same community we’re talking about?
Of course it is the duty of every citizen to obey the law, but as Mr Lee is well aware there is no law against cat feeding. In fact, his entire letter is an example of what he claims to dislike in others.
There is already a law against littering which is the same law that should be used against people who do not clear up after cat feeding. Why have an additional law to ban cat feeding specifically unless there is a particular bias against people who feed cats?
Mr Lee mentioned that “Those who feed cats near the homes of others may not experience their thievery, fighting and bad behaviour”. Perhaps Mr Lee is in an estate where there are no responsible caregivers running a TNRM programme. With Mr Lee’s experience, it would be great if he could start one. Certainly if the cats are fed, they would not need to ‘thieve’ in his words, and sterilisation would stop the fighting, though I am unclear what ‘bad behaviour’ he refers to.
If Mr Lee is serious about changing the law to allow cats in HDB flats, I am sure that people working for animal welfare would be happy to have him on board. One wonders though what his suggestion would be for the many community cats that cannot be housed even if the rule is relaxed.
Click on the blog post title to read the discussion. Below is the article itself.
The Electric New Paper
Tackling issue of stray cats
February 25, 2009
REPORTER Teh Jen Lee quoted me accurately in the article ‘He has ideas on tackling issue of strays’ (The New Paper, 13 Feb). But the response from the cat-feeding community was disappointing.
THE NEW PAPER, 13 FEB
Dr Tan Chek Wee wrote on 17 Feb that a ban on cat feeding might exacerbate the problem, causing some to do so secretly, and not clean up the mess afterwards. If this is how that community might behave, it is a sorry reflection on their civic sense.
In civilised society, it is the duty of every citizen to obey the existing laws, whether or not they agree with all of it. But nothing says that Singapore citizens cannot try to change laws they do not like.
Recently, Mr Tang Wee Sung was penalised in a kidney-trading case, as he had broken the law. However, it was agreed that the law was outdated, and would be changed.
Petitioners have also persuaded the Government to preserve Chek Jawa as a marine park, to raise the speed limits on expressways, to repeal the ban on motorcyclists’ full-face helmets, and alter many other rules.
From my personal involvement, I would put the success rate at better than half when logical proposals are presented.
If those who feel sorry for strays are serious about their mission, they should put forward a defensible argument to repeal the ban on keeping cats in flats.
They also have to be prepared to accept different points of view, make concessions and understand why community cats get people up in arms. Those who feed cats near the homes of others may not experience their thievery, fighting and bad behaviour.
I was also disappointed to find a number of comments made anonymously online, mostly negative, some inaccurate. They accused me of elitism, blithely neglecting to note that of my three present cats, two are rescued strays.
So, instead of cowardly, anonymous ranting, will those really concerned about cat welfare get credible research that supporters can use, send petitions to MPs, and work for the seven to 10 years that it took to change other laws?
FROM READER LEE CHIU SAN