This is the new-paper-printed version of Dawn’s repartee to Mr Lee Chiu San’s letter, which succinctly sums up the history of cat welfare in Singapore. Dawn deserves a medal for dealing with such bigotry with such serenity
The Electric New Paper :
28 February 2009
I WAS taken aback to read Mr Lee Chiu San’s comments in ‘Feel sorry for strays? Commit to repeal ban’ (The New Paper, 24 Feb).
It seems Mr Lee is unaware that people have been working for many years to repeal the ban on having cats in flats.
The Cat Welfare Society (CWS) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have both worked on this for many years.
During my time as Director of Operations with CWS, we received the support of more than 30 vets, gathered more than 3,000 signatures in less than three weeks, met the Housing Development Board twice with two separate proposals (available online on CWS’ website).
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority also had no objection to cats in flats. I am also aware of many individuals who have written to the HDB asking them to change the rule.
CWS proposal rejected
CWS would have been happy to revisit the issue and we took HDB’s concerns at our previous meetings and incorporated them into our new proposals. Our last request for a meeting to discuss a new proposal was turned down.
CWS’ suggestions were that all cats be sterilised, microchipped and that there be a limit on the number of cats in flats (subject to a compassionate period for existing cats as they did when the rule with dogs was changed).
A register could be maintained by the Residents’ Committee (RC).
CWS also offered to help with mediation in terms of complaints and advising irresponsible cat owners. There was also a town council willing to implement a pilot project with its RC, but again this was turned down by the HDB.
It was disingenuous that Mr Lee mentioned the case of Mr Tang. There was no active campaigning on the part of Mr Tang to change the law.
So quick to tar community
I was surprised 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 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 Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage programme, which involves responsible feeding, sterilisation and mediation of complaints.
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.
FROM READER DAWN KUA SU-WEN