Category Archives: News

News, reviews, commentaries, letters to the press

Could you bear it if it happened to a human child or your beloved pet?

While reading the papers 2 sundays ago, my eyes were drawn to a tiny article tucked into the inner bottom corner of the right page.


How cruelly ended was this cat’s life!  What a senseless, wanton waste of life!

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Tabulously spotted Philly and agouti Rheilly

But it was more than grief and outrage I felt. I was also deeply disturbed. Because this cat looks very much like our Philly.

It boggles the mind.

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Philly trying to get a grip

Why would anyone even contemplate such a sick thing? The poor kitty was strangled to death with a rafia string just behind a block of HDB flats. The rafia string had cut 1″ deep into its throat, probably causing poor kitty a very slow painful death. How could such a painful death be unnoticed when the poor cat was struggling for a long while in the midst of densely populated human habitats?

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Rheilly: So scary!

Could a human child have died the same death unnoticed?

Can you imagine the same happening to your beloved kitty?

It could happen to any cat. This kitty isn’t the first or the only cat who met a cruel end by any stretch of the imagination.

Remember Bedok South, then Old Airport Road, followed by Jurong East, and Pasir Ris, Choa Chu Kang?

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Teddy: Philly annoys the hell out of me EVERY SINGLE DAY, but even I wouldn't wish this on him

I am still boggled by the attitudes of those who claim to love cats, then leave their “beloved pets” to roam outside 24/7 unsupervised, exposed to the dangers of animal abuse, road accidents, pest control roundup and AVA culling, poisoning, injuries and sickness from scuffles with other cats, and unwanted pregnancies (conveniently discarding the unapproved young lives that result from their cavalier attitude towards responsibility). Would these people allow their children to live the same risks?

This isn’t just a cat who died. He had caregivers, he had a name.


His name is Pui Pui. And he did not die an easy death.

Bloody signs of Pui Pui's last moments of life

Pui Pui's blood seeped into the ground as he struggled for his life

Thanks to Pawpledge, Pui Pui is not a nameless cat to be forgotten. Nor will his death be just another statistic in Singapore’s annual average of 700 reported (and rising) animal abuse cases if Singaporeans CARE. Pawpledge has sketched a chilling but not unsalvageable reality of the dangers Pui Pui and the cats in the area live in. Sterilisation, and TNRM of course figures prominently. Please help if you can.

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Joey: I really really don't like Philly but no cat (or dog) deserves to die so horribly

Animal abuse takes every form. Already, between the AVA and SPCA, 21,000 dogs and cats are put to death annually. And official policies or officious support and subsidies of certain behaviours isn’t anything NOT wrong. Not when the real core root, the cause and effect are not even bothered with.

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Bam Bam: I'm the resident evil... I can't bear to look!

Are the issues complex? Sure, any issue involving people evolve complexity. But are they uncomprehensible? I don’t think so – if a foreigner who read a short, simple but true rendition of the plight of Singapore’s community aka homeless cats can go on to write it in his own words, no one needs high qualifications from officially sanctioned university brand names nor be called Mr Minister or Mr MP to claim authority and weight on the issues, not when they’re plagued with the head in the sand syndrome.

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Philly: So sad, that really looks like me
Rheilly: Anyone who wants to mess with you has to go through me first

As for Philly, and the rest of the slackers, I am glad they are safe. But please, let’s keep our eyes out for the voiceless ones who are only striving to eke out a living on the harsh streets of Singapore

くそっ、私の黒鮪刺身はどこにありますか?!

(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)


DAMN, where’s my bluefin tuna sashimi?!

くそっ、私の黒鮪刺身はどこにありますか?!

(Kusou, watashi no kuro maguro sashimi wa doko ni arimasu ka?!)

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From the Mediterranean to Japan, the bluefin tuna is being fished and eaten into extinction.

There are a few species of bluefin tuna, and all of them are in danger disappearing forever.

The species in the greatest danger of slipping into extinction is the western north Atlantic population (stock) of bluefin tuna. Thanks to 4 decades of overfishing, it has been driven to just 3% of its 1960 or pre-longlining abundance – a decline of 97%…
-“Atlantic Bluefin Tuna – Severity of Decline and its Causes“, bigmarinefish.com

Bluefin tuna sashimi is a delicacy the world over, wherever fanciers of Japanese live. This is a phenomenon ignited in the 1970s, and it may soon burn out, not because of waning demand but because demand is fueling the bluefin’s road to oblivion.

The hunting of highly valued animals into oblivion is a symptom of human foolishness that many consign to the unenlightened past, like the 19th century, when bird species were wiped out for feathered hats and bison were decimated for sport. But the slaughter of the giant bluefin tuna is happening now.
The Bluefin Slaughter, New York Times

Before it got reduced to a raw morsel of gourmet ecstasy, the bluefin is a living fish, one of the largest fish apart from sharks (sharks are soft-boned or cartilaginous, while most other fishes including the tuna are bony fish). The tuna’s fishy biology is rare, for it’s a warm-blooded fast swimming fish, the Lamborghini of the seas. Like those gas-guzzling monsters, bluefins are fantastical swimmers capable of hitting 70kmh, traversing the oceans from north to south, east to west, several times a year. They are highly evolved fish, advanced in design, with amazing navigation systems, able to locate prey with their sonar, but closing in with their large eyes. They can even dive down to almost 1000m deep. And like the supercars, these superfish have voracious appetites, requiring 25 kilos of prey to gain 1 kilo of weight. Their average lifespan is 15 – 30 years, and it takes them up to 12 years to go from puny microscopic larvae carried along by currents to sexually mature, sleek giants averaging 2m in length.

It seems like apart from growing up quickly, there’s nothing this beautiful fish can’t do, but it cannot escape extinction if people insist on eating them off the face of the earth.

Stop the gluttony: save the bluefin tuna from extinction!

大食家の貪欲を止めてください:黒鮪を絶滅から救ってください!

(taishyokuka no donyoku wo yamete kudasai: kuro maguro wo zemmei kara sukutte kudasai!)

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Tuna looks like this to most people – the beginning of sushi, the ignomy of a frozen piece of multilated meat. But it is the end of life, or a parodic prophesy of the bluefin’s future, driven by human greed and gluttony

As Prince Albert, Monaco’s ruler, wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

The forces of selfishness and stupidity that wiped out the great whales and the northern cod in the last century are steaming ahead at full speed… The bluefin tuna is as endangered as the giant panda and the white rhino.” Unless a ban is enforced almost immediately, the only examples of the species could be found in large aquariums.

Is it too pessimistic a view? It doesn’t seem to be, given this typical of the editorials on the state of things:

… what was once known as the common tunny has, over the past few decades, come to be at serious risk of extinction, thanks to overfishing driven by demand from Japan, where bluefin tuna are considered a delicacy and are used in sushi and sashimi.

Efforts to protect the species have floundered.
–  So long, and thanks for all the fish, Economist.com

How did it come to this?

From Horse Mackerel to Sushi

The bluefin was not always considered a delicacy. In the early 1900s the fish was known

as “horse mackerel,” and its red, strong-flavored flesh was considered suitable fare only for dogs and cats. Nevertheless, big-game fishers off New Jersey and Nova Scotia targeted the bluefin because these powerful fish were considered worthy opponents… Although swordfish were certainly considered edible, tuna and marlin were thought of as strictly objects of the hunt. The bluefin did not become valuable as a food fish until the latter half of the 20th century, when sushi began to appear on menus around the globe.
The Bluefin Tuna in Peril, Scientific American

Yes, sport fishing is a culprit along with sushi gobblers, but the bulk of culpability lies with the sushi and sashimi lovers.

Supplying tonnes of tuna means mass fishing techniques, which are indiscriminatory about what gets snared. Non-target species like birds, turtles, sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, and other fish species become by-catch, sacrificed needlessly.

drowned-albatross… long-line fleets are fishing blind, with little or no understanding of their devastating impact on threatened species,’ says Dr Simon Cripps, Director of WWF’s Global Marine Programme. ‘Responsible countries must urgently implement measures to dramatically reduce the death toll.’ The new report exposes ten years of inaction by members of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), and calls for reform measures to be agreed at their annual meeting in Australia next week to stem the catch of endangered wildlife and reduce chronic overfishing.
–  Southern Bluefin Tuna fleets endanger a wide variety of wildlife, warns WWF

Take positive action before it’s too late for regrets

悔悟のために遅すぎである前に、確かな行動をとってください

(Kaigo no tame ni susugi de aru maini, tashika na koudou wo totte kudasai>

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Can you imagine a day where the bluefin tuna has come to the end of the line? A day where there’s no fish? Bluefins are to fishes what whales are to cetaceans.

But for the diehard fan of maguro, especially otoro, the question burning the tastebuds and churning the gastric juices in the guts must be : Is this the end of sushi?

Sushi connoisseurs tend to be obsessive folks – I know because I am one. If we think we must sacrifice good sushi to save the bluefin, we may just as well keep eating bluefin.
Better sushi, but without bluefin tuna, The Christian Science Monitor

Old habits die hard, but what about older habits that were buried by the old habits?

The people who come to my dinners are American sushi eaters ready to experience and understand a completely authentic Japanese meal….

And guess what? There’s no bluefin on the plate. There’s no toro, no hamachi, no unagi, and no fatty salmon. None of these usual suspects of today’s global sushi business are part of the traditional sushi lineage. In fact, until just a few decades ago the Japanese considered tuna a garbage fish.

It wasn’t until after World War II, when the Japanese started eating a more Westernized diet, with red meat and fattier cuts of it, that the bluefin fad began. And it was a fad practically invented by Japanese airlines, so they could load their international flights with pricey cargo.
Better sushi, but without bluefin tuna, The Christian Science Monitor

How do you kick an old habit, one that is harmful? By looking further back to when things were better, more sustainable.

A Japanese chef named Hajime Sato did what celebrity chef Matsuhisa has not had the wisdom to do. With the help of a seafood conservation expert named Casson Trenor, Chef Sato converted his sushi bar, Mashiko, to an entirely sustainable menu….

Sato no longer serves bluefin. And he’s thrilled. “I found probably 20 more fish that no one uses for sushi anymore,” he says. “My restaurant has so much more different fish that I can’t fit them all into the new menu.”

Sushi doesn’t need to die because the bluefin is endangered. With our help, sushi can be reborn – better than ever.
Better sushi, but without bluefin tuna, The Christian Science Monitor

Some may point to farming as a way out. But no, it is really another farcical false hope.

It may not be  too late to do the right thing and keep the legacy meant for our future generations intact, a LIVING planet filled with the amazing bluefin and its fellow dwellers of the deep.

Yet even if the trade in bluefin tuna were to be halted completely, there would be no guarantee that the species would recover. Experience with other fisheries, such as the collapse of the cod population of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland in 1992, has shown that the dynamics of an ecosystem can change when a top predator is removed completely. Fifteen years later, the northern cod stock has not recovered.
–  So long, and thanks for all the fish, Economist.com

(Incidentally, the intensification of the annual Canadian seal slaughter used the cod fisheries’ collapse as its excuse. Ref  “Scientific Study – my fish!“)

Efforts to study and understand the bluefin tuna are underway. In fact, 1 scientist has said:

“To say there’s not enough science to tell us whether we need to protect the last few fish that are trying to breed on our side of the ocean, that is just nonsensical,” he said. “I believe that is illegal. The law requires better stewardship than [government officials] sitting on their hands and doing nothing.”
Advocates Hope Science Can Save a Big Tuna, Washington Post

But we must bear in mind that even if the bluefin is saved, it still does mean we can feed the bluefin to our feckless appetites again anytime soon:

At the moment bluefin tuna has no protection under Cites, the only global body with the power to limit or ban international trade in endangered species.

If bluefin tuna are given protected status at the meeting in Qatar next March the sale of the fish on international markets would be banned although it could still be sold locally.

Such a measure would eliminate the main cause of over-fishing: the strong demand for the delicacy as sushi and sashimi in countries such as Japan and the United States.
EU considering bluefin tuna protection

It’s not just Japan (but even Japanese think tank are urging Japanese to spare the bluefin). Bluefin tuna are missing from Danish waters since the 1960s, the annual mattanza in Sicily. In fact, it’s not just tuna that’s got problems.

No nation can claim innocence. No one. Even in tiny lawful Singapore, illegal food encounters are not unheard of.

Though there seems to be hope, this constant yo-yoing between austerity and glut cannot be good. Can we actually learn? The insidious food, inc has its claws in every aspect of the human food chain, whether on land or in the seas, and consumers are not guiltless in the concocting of this recipe for disaster. The important thing is for consumers, you and me, to realise what we’re doing (or not) with our habits, and do the right thing.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Mercury Poisoning: People who eat a lot of fish may run health risk. (Latest “HOT” victim – Jeremy Piven)

Problems for Sharks and Dolphins:

All the Tuna you buy comes from wild fish, some caught using vast purse-seine nets to scoop them out of the sea, and some from lines of baited hooks many miles long. Unfortunately these methods catch many other creatures at the same time, including sharks. Longlines around New Zealand are said to have caught 450,000 blue sharks in 10 years!

And there are serious problems for Dolphins. Follow these two links to start researching them. Dolphins may be caught at the same time, or Dolphin mothers may be separated from their young.

Weekend Movie Choice: The Cove

[NOTE: Any comments in Japanese will not have any response from me. The Japanese title and section headings are to pique interest only. While I have studied Japanese, it was a long time ago – but with thanks to the internet, it was a easy task to get translations.]


(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)

AWARE Saga: Post-mortem

What’s a post with a sequel but lacking a sequel’s sequel?

There’s a ton of information and blogs in cyberspace touching on it, so instead of saying what’s already carried all over the net, I’m going to link to choice sites/posts. But before that, let me jot down a few IMOs, which points are all supported by the linkages to come (in themselves just a sampling of the content online). Thereafter, we’ll get back to the pertinent issues – kitties, kitty pics and thoughts and concerns for the non-squabbling denizens of this earth.

  • Congratulations are in order for the new old-guard exco, but it also has its work cut out for it – engagement, progression, change.
  • The statements by religious leaders did do their bit in reigning in the potential “army of God” siege that could have kept the Josie Lau exco in place. (I saw a reference to an online letter to ST from a woman claiming to have decided to skip the EOGM after discussion with her cell group post Dr John Chew’s statement, but can’t find it now. If you see that, please paste the link in the comments section of this post, thanks!)
  • The media reports portrayed the old-guard supporters as rowdy, loud and rude. However, they left out how the eogm seemed to be organised to disadvantage them.
  • I am still having difficulties wrapping my head around the fact that such a takeover bid succeeded at all. This surely shows up inherent problems with AWARE, at least with regards to its structure? And I say this without any rancour, with the utmost respect for its achievements.
  • I am not a Christian nor am I considered religious by any definition, but neither do I feel all secular activities including the mundaneness called working for a living, can be totally devoid of an individual’s faith/belief system. There is no denying what every individual does or say is informed by that, it’s inherent in the human mind/psyche. My beef with the AWARE takeover was how religion seemed to be the motivation and core of it, even unto the way the volunteers were organised on the EOGM preparation earlier in the day and how the “red-shirts” seem to up and leave after the casting of the no-confidence vote.
  • The sudden flurry of protests by concerned parents to MOE about the AWARE CSE programme content reflects unfavourably on the protesters. Yes, no protest does not mean no problem. But the sudden outpouring of “outrage” manifest a herd mentality hinting at taking someone’s word at face-value rather than herd members learning (AND understanding) the truth for themselves.
  • The AWARE saga is not, and should not be, construed as a Christians vs the rest tussle. But it is hard not to view it as such given the facts of the case. Members on all sides of the divide can deduce any number of things, but it would boil down to:
    • Conservative/fundie Christians believing they are being discrinimated against for having to tolerate alternative views and not being able to force their agenda on others.
    • Non-christians of other religions beleiving they are are being marginalised for having to tolerate an aggressive Christian agenda/voice and for its imposition of its agenda on everyone else (section 377A anyone?)
    • Moderates of all persuasions who have been sandwiched and feel the impetus (for whatever reason) to keep silent rather than raise their concerns about the pro-active aggression characterising small segments of their belief systems.
    • Civil society must be free from politicking of all ilk or “agendas” to function objectively and healthily.
    • The world is really not just made up of “normal” people (aka religious people who are decree-abiding heterosexuals) vs”abnormal” people (aka irreligious people who are decree-breaking homosexuals), and there are OTHER stuff that commands the world’s human population’s attention. (There was a reference somewhere to women being more concerned with the economy and bread-and-butter issues than homosexuality. If you see that, please paste the link in the comments section of this post, thanks!). Leting a particular segment of the population string up another due to misunderstanding, fear, bias, discrimination is the first step down the road to ruin. Strictly speaking, it’s not like this is really the first step in this agenda, but does Singapore want to be dragged along?
    • The enthusiastic response to the K.F. Khoo petition demonstrate the power of faith. If only a portion of this enthusiasm could be harnessed for pressing issues of the day.
    • Secularism is not and cannot be the exclusive domain of atheists – it may be tempting and all too convenient but the “Godless” are not to blame for all the failings of the world but unless you’re that frog in the well, even that’s too narrow and myopic a view.
    • slightly off-topic but consider this: unless there is only ONE religion which also happens to condemn all unbelievers to hell, and exactly ONE belief system in the whole wide world complementing said religion, the only thing every human being can be sure of is the guarantee of feeling the heat at the end. Crispy or well-done? Come on, why so serious?

The EOGM REPORTS

COMMENTS and THOUGHTS

Media

Straits Times:

Today

TNP

Blogs

mrsbudak

Youth.sg

taikiew.net

akikonomu

Mr Wang Says So

To Fix A Mocking Peasant

Writing-Yoga-Living

Siew Kum Hong

Yawning Bread

The Wayang Party

The Online Citizen

For more: we-are-aware.sg

Aware Saga: COOS and the curious case of disingenuous-seeming platitudes

My bit of rambling on the AWARE saga seemed fated to get a sequel. By now, it should be well-known that Pastor Derek Hong of the Anglican Church Of Our Saviour (COOS), which seems to be the unifying demographic in the collective profile of the new AWARE exco and then some (pdf alt), has raised a rallying war-cry to the women in his flock to ‘be engaged’ and support fellow church member and Aware president Josie Lau and ‘her sisters’ at Aware, claiming ‘it is not a crusade against the people but there’s a line that God has drawn for us, and we don’t want our nation crossing that line.’

What could be defined by the term “our nation” in the pastor’s mind, when Singapore is a secular sovereign state? Who makes up “our nation” he is commanding to not cross the “line that God has drawn” when Christians comprises 14.5% of Singapore’s population? The implications are nothing short of intriguing. (Pastor Hong is not the only COOS shepherd to urge his flock to support the new AWARE exco in the name of church and country).

If you have access to a copy, read what the good pastor said in today’s Straits Times. 2 and 2 apparently do not have to add up. Heck, compare it and the “outing” of the Group of 9 + 1 to his church’s “clarification” statement, and it gets even more confuzzling. Even COOS staff are getting in on the act. You can’t throw out the bath water without dashing the baby to the ground. So which is it, yea or nay?

Incidentally, it is very interesting that almost as soon as MOE issued a statement on the bone of contention by the Group of 9’s + 1, aka “Feminist Mentor”, and said it had not received complaints neither from her or the shocked parents she chewed the bone with, and the FM seemed certain of hanging by her own rope, it began poking the bone, and a newly launched petition by a Madam K.F. Khoo to request MOE to do the poking has garnered 1,200 signatures (scroll to post titled “Check Again”. Edit: This is a much better reference, with the originating email appeal in tow apparently).

EDIT: I am highly interested in the outcome of the MOE probe of course – will someone get a tap on the wrist? (Incidentally, the comments to the post are very interesting reads, involving self-styled concerned parents to boot.) And for balance, straight from the horse’s mouth: Notes from an AWARE CSE trainer

Additional references and choice reads:

A bit of rambling on the AWARE saga

Strictly human affairs aren’t featured on tec for the simple reason of it being a minionly blog. But there are hiss spats, and then there are hiss spats. This is one of those that demands a bit of attention. It also requires more thought but I am pressed for time since the AWARE EGM is on 2 May so please bear with the rambling.

To set a bit of background: I am of the opinion that everyone has rights and freedom to choose, without fear of reprisals, persecution and discrimination, especially with regards to to personal basic stuff like sexual orientation, choice in abortion, gender equality, respect for others’ freedom to practise and express their opinions and beliefs. I cannot stand the imposition of one’s beliefs on another whether by force, stealth or other forms of coercion. This stems from my personal experience as a six year old who, along with with my younger sisters, was lured and “brainwashed” by a pair of  smiling young women Christian evangelists to “drive out” the false evil gods sitting in my home and accept the true god of Christianity or risk burning in hell. As children of practising Taoists, and having visited Haw Par Villa, the burning in hell bit did it. When they asked if we want to be saved, of course I said YES for all of us. We were told it was simple, that we only had to repeat what they said (which I know now to be prayers). Though a six year old who had barely started learning English, I grew more and more uncomfortable, not to mention scared and confused, at the things we seemed to be repeating, which seemed to include clauses for burning in hell for offending the Christian god in future. Thankfully, our mother swooped in before the deal was sealed and rescued us. I still remember the look of disappointment on the two women’s faces as our mother herded us away. Our mother was scared and angry of course, and tried to help us understand the enormity of what the two women had attempted when we got home. I felt sick then and prayed at the altar in our home for forgiveness and for assistance to drive out the evil god that I almost accepted. From then, I had bad dreams of being burnt in hell by the Christian god for the longest time. The incident happened while I and my sisters were out playing in the neighbourhood playground, just 20m away from our second storey 1-room flat, while waiting for my mother to return from errand running. It was a long time ago in an age when neighbourliness was such that every mother did the same. But after that incident, though she continued to allow us to run down to the playground ourselves, our mother made sure to keep an eye on us from the corridor – there goes the neighbourhood really. Now that I know, I feel nothing but pity and contempt for evangelists who prey on the naive, desperate and the weak in the name of their god or think the world must live by their creed. Talk about forced enlistment! How Religion Ruins Relationships so: why can’t people just accept people for what they are instead of trying to force-mould others to their truths?

With this tangling mess at AWARE, surely it shows the danger we are in from such fundamentalists.

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Time to stop hiding and take a stand, like Angel did.

The first I knew of the AWARE sage was this TODAY article (pdf alt. Comment on this article: AWARE: a civil society primer). I had really thought it was a storm in a teacup. But unfolding events show it is not so simple, and where the ilk of Thio Su Mein are involved, alarm bells must ring. Then I read that the DBS tie-up with Focus on the Family (which had seemed mildly insipid if a little unfathomable) was under the aupices of Josie Lau, new AWARE president in her capacity as DBS’ head of credit cards marketing. Back when it broke, I had thought it was a simple fluke that a secular organisation picked such a strongly anti-anything non-christian group which is hardly heard of in Singapore for their Corporate Social Responsibility gig.

(Side-track: This weekend past was a flag day for Focus on the Family. Asking money from the public of Singapore to fund their “work”. The cheek! People, please do pay attention to what you are contributing to.)

I also find Dawn’s take on the whole shenanigans insightful. (And I am touched that amid their work and focus, the members of AWARE extended their empathies during the SARS fiasco in 2003)

One other thing I have to mention about AWARE – when the SARS crisis happened, some AWARE members came forward to offer us their moral support. They felt that active volunteers involved in civil society should help each other out. If you’d like find out what you can do, go to We Are Aware.

mrsbudak‘s thoughts are educational and eye-opening too. In fact, I got a few references off them Here are her posts in chronological order:

Other important and interesting references:

NewPaper 20090327: Seletar Hill residents get catty over strays

The ghosts of the 45 dead cats of Seletar case are still haunting the estate it seems, and have exposed a long open can of worms. Us-vs-them doesn’t work, but obviously these folks aren’t willing to sit down and talk. It doesn’t help that

Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, said those troubled by strays are informed about AVA’s free loan of cat traps and free collection of trapped cats.

Hello, vacuum effect? Is this conveyed to the aspiring trapper? Are aspiring trappers also told the cats are killed once they reach AVA? And who is paying for the costs of such trapping and killing? How about actually suggesting effective options like the Scarecrow for a change? Options that happily, also happen to be humane?

‘The borrower is informed to ensure that the trapped cat is not subjected to ill-treatment or injury and that it is an offence to subject an animal to cruelty,’ he said.

Yes, public service announcement. Well and good. But who ensures the trapped cat really wasn’t ill-treated? What action is taken if such ill-treatment is discovered? Who checks the trapped cats for signs of ill-treatment or injury before they are sent into the kitty murder room in AVA grounds?

For complaints on a large number of cats in a house, an AVA officer will visit to check on the number of cats and their welfare, and advise the owner to confine them within the premises, sterilise them and also to reduce the number by re-homing them.

At last, some recognition that sterilisation and keeping kitties indoors is the way to go. But why are such simple pre-emptive measures not suggested and promoted BEFORE such a case happens? And once again neighbours should be told about the impact of vacuum effect rather than offered the free traps upfront. It doesn’t take much to convey the message, especially if it’s men-in-uniforms doing the conveying.

Re-homing them… what is the likelihood of successful rehoming? What aid is given to ensure the re-homing is done properly and the cats’ new homes are genuine refuge for them where the risk of abandonment or neglect is minimal? Otherwise, what is the point of ‘advising’ the owner to re-home? Lip service? I hope not.

Here’s the article for your vigorous exercise in logic

Seletar Hill residents get catty over strays
Cat lovers & trappers divided over hygiene & stench problems
By Teh Jen Lee
March 27, 2009

SELETAR Hills Estate residents are getting increasingly divided over stray cats.

np_images_jlfightr2t
TNP ILLUSTRATION: FADZIL HAMZAH

On one side are animal activists who insist that it’s fine to keep cats in large numbers. They feed strays and take them home when they are sick.

On the other are neighbours aggrieved by problems such as the stench when too many cats are kept in one place.

Since the start of this year, three of them have resorted to trapping strays and sending them to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to be put down.

When 45 cats were found buried in the area, accusations started flying between the two camps.

The New Paper received an e-mail from a resident who accused her neighbours of animal cruelty because they were unhappy with her keeping stray cats. Two of her cats were found with their tails injured.

Another resident was fingered as the culprit for the cat burials because he is known as an avid cat trapper.

Netizens posted his address online and threatened to harm him.

We’re not naming those involved because we do not want to aggravate the situation.

Other residents who are neither cat lovers nor trappers feel caught in the fracas.

Humane

One resident told The New Paper: ‘Cats are okay but it’s more of a cleanliness and hygiene issue when there are many cats in one house.

‘I was told that NEA (National Environment Agency) officers almost puked when they entered (one such) house, so you can imagine how bad it was. The person must be an ardent cat lover to be able to withstand the smell.’

The woman, who requested anonymity, said Jalan Rengas in the estate is famous for its cat stench.

Mr Lim Kuan Zhong, 24, a marketing executive who raises money for stray cat caregivers in Seletar, said: ‘I’m not a resident but I do know there is a conflict. However, I’m for the keeping of community cats.

‘Some problems are due to residents’ intolerance or lack of understanding of what caregivers are doing. They spend money to neuter. I see this as a practical benefit, controlling stray numbers in a humane way.’

Sterilisation also decreases the likelihood of caterwauling, he said.

Caregivers also medicate strays so that disease doesn’t spread to other cats, including domestic cats, added Mr Lim.

He said when strays are adequately fed, they don’t go into people’s houses or rummage through rubbish bins. They help keep the population of rats and pests down.

But what if they are so well-fed that they don’t go after rats? ‘It’s not necessarily true. It’s in their nature to catch lizards, cockroaches, rats and moles, unless they are so overfed and obese that they are sedentary.’

What about cats that defecate indiscriminately?

Mr Lim said: ‘Actually, by natural instinct, they will dig the soil and cover up after defecating. They do this even when they have diarrhoea. However, they may not cover it that well.’

He felt that dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets cause a bigger problem.

What about too many cats in one house?

Mr Lim admitted that more than 30 cats was excessive, but said: ‘There are limited shelters and houses to keep cats in Singapore. The Housing Board should repeal the ban on keeping cats.’

Another Seletar resident, who declined to be named, said a neighbour who lives near a house at Jalan Rengas with 80 to 90 cats told him that four neighbours sold their homes and moved away.

‘The matter has gone all the way to our Member of Parliament but there’s just no solution. It has been a problem for the past five years,’ he said.

The MP, Dr Balaji Sadasivan, told The New Paper: ‘Whenever complaints about cats are received, the complaints are referred to AVA.

‘Cat lovers have also voiced their concern about the need to treat cats humanely and this has also been relayed to AVA.’

When The New Paper visited Jalan Rengas, only one resident was around and willing to speak with us.

Renovation work was going on around the house with many cats and the contractors working next door were acutely aware of the smell.

Mr Xu Shu Long, 46, said in Mandarin: ‘I’ve been working here for almost a week, it’s very bad. This is the smelliest site I’ve worked at since I came to Singapore four years ago. Even in China, such a stench is very rare.’

Mr Percy Jeyapal, chairman of the Seletar Hills Estate Residents Association, takes the position that ‘we must live and let live’.

‘Obviously, we don’t encourage stray cats all over the place as it does propagate disease and can be a nuisance.

‘We must also ensure that cats are not abandoned. Having a large number of cats is a problem but we can’t interfere with people’s lives. Those living close by need to suffer certain inconveniences.’

House visit

Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, said those troubled by strays are informed about AVA’s free loan of cat traps and free collection of trapped cats.

‘The borrower is informed to ensure that the trapped cat is not subjected to ill-treatment or injury and that it is an offence to subject an animal to cruelty,’ he said.

For complaints on a large number of cats in a house, an AVA officer will visit to check on the number of cats and their welfare, and advise the owner to confine them within the premises, sterilise them and also to reduce the number by re-homing them.

Mr Jeyapal said owners must show some responsibility on hygiene and smell issues.

He said: ‘If they can’t manage… then they have to keep cats in moderation.

‘Those with more than 30 cats, we acknowledge their love for cats, but there must be some places such as farms where cats can have a better life.’

New Paper 20090314: Shop under fire for hamster giveaway

Follow-up to Pet Station’s Free Hamster Giveaway… I still got burning questions

Shop under fire for hamster giveaway

20090315-tnp-hamster
The Electric New Paper :

Shop under fire for hamster giveaway
Netizens up in arms after seeing e-flyer
IT WAS a marketing tactic that failed even before it started.
By Liew Hanqing
14 March 2009

IT WAS a marketing tactic that failed even before it started.

The offer: Spend $35 in a single receipt and get a free hamster.

The promotion, offered by Pets’ Station in Tiong Bahru Plaza, backfired after incensed netizens lashed out against it.

The advertisement had begun circulating online this week. The pet shop had planned to offer a free hamster for every $35 spent in a single receipt, or $25 for PAssion card holders.

The PAssion Card is a membership card for People’s Association grassroots leaders and members of the Community Clubs.

The shop’s e-flyer, which was later posted on a popular online forum, has caused an uproar among netizens. Many expressed the view that the promotion was cruel and that it was not right to give away an animal as a freebie.

Promotion cancelled

After netizens bombarded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) with e-mails and phone calls, the pet shop was instructed to cancel the promotion, which was supposed to run from 16-22 Mar.

A spokesman for Pets’ Station confirmed that the promotion, to be held at the atrium at Tiong Bahru Plaza, is off.

She told The New Paper: ‘We have responded to all e-mails and will stop all promotional activities which involve live pets.

‘We acknowledge negligence on our part, and would like to apologise to the public.’

A spokesman for AVA said it had received feedback from the public and had instructed the pet shop to cancel the promotion.

Said the spokesman: ‘At animal exhibitions, AVA does not allow the sale or giving away of any animal. This is to prevent impulse buying of pets and animals being given to people who do not really need them or are unable to take care of them, resulting in the abandonment of pets.’

Discussion was lively on the forum thread related to the promotion.

One netizen wrote: ‘After they adopt (an animal), they may abuse or just abandon them. It’s ridiculous to give out pets.’

Numerous bloggers also posted entries criticising the pet shop.

One blogger, dead_cockroach, wrote: ‘This is a very irresponsible marketing tactic. I foresee a number of these hamsters being neglected or abandoned at the void decks in due time when the novelty wears out.’

Another blogger, Dawn, wrote: ‘This is terrible. When you buy accessories, you get a free hamster?’

SPCA executive officer Deirdre Moss said: ‘It is marvellous that so many people are speaking up for animal welfare. These are people who received the promotion via e-mail and had acted on it immediately by voicing strong objections.’

Mr Louis Ng, executive director of About Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), a charity aimed at fostering respect and compassion for animals, agreed that animals should not be given away as freebies.

He said: ‘People need to think of the commitment that comes with owning a pet. The whole family must be willing to commit to taking care of the pet.’