Tag Archives: misconceptions

New Paper 20090228: Serious about changing law on strays? Join animal-welfare groups

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 :

Serious about changing law on strays? Join animal-welfare groups

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

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New Paper 20090225: Mr Serial-Cat-Culler’s Cousin Strikes Again

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

TNP (25-2-09)

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

Feel sorry for strays? Commit to repeal ban

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.

Click to see larger image
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

New Paper 20090214: Serial cat culler’s cat-lover cousin supports him

So it wasn’t enough that the new paper gave Seletar’s serial cat culler his 15 seconds of infamy in relation to the 45 cats in Seletar (click on it for full chronology). In the same edition, they talked to his cousin, who is a cat lover who shares Mr Tan’s views. This is one cat keeper who has his head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. Being a cat keeper, nor one who is a member of the Singapore Cat Club and shower of pedigree cats, is no licence to opiniate on cat matters as if the world’s at his feet on this, though the new paper makes it seems so.

Again here’s Dawn‘s eloquence on the matter (save me another rant!).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ideas or just more prejudice?

I’m surprised at the misconceptions in this article. First of all, please explain to me how ‘stray animals are a health hazard’. Seriously, what disease are animals known to spread that they constitute a ‘health hazard’? Anyone? I’m sick and tired of hearing this statement made, without anything to back it up.

Secondly, there’s this nonsense about community animals rummaging in the rubbish bins, unlike birds. First of all, I don’t know where Mr Lee is watching his birds, but I’ve seen birds rummaging in garbage. In fact, if you have a garbage spill on the side of the road, chances are that its the birds that are going to get to it first. Also, the problem of animals rummaging in garbage is a problem ‘in Singapore’? I’m pretty sure animals getting into trash is a problem anywhere in the world. In the US, you have to be careful because you might get bears in the trash. So what’s the solution? How about just securing your trash?

Again, why beat up on cat feeders? Should they be stopped if they sterilise, manage and feed responsibly? How on earth are they the same as litter bugs if they clean up after themselves? That’s like saying that heroin abusers and people prescribed antibiotics for an illness are all drug abusers and should be locked up.

There is a good reason not to feed monkeys (basically the same reason as the bears). Monkeys are having their environment encroached into, and if you lure them OUT of their environment with food, they’re at a disadvantage, especially when people complain about them (ie they get killed). You basically don’t want them to get too near people because they’re not domesticated. Surprise! Cats have not only been domesticated for the past couple of thousand years, they are already IN the environment. It’s not like you walk into a forest and find a cat – they live on our streets, in our void decks and just about everywhere we live. In fact, if you want them OUT of your trash, then feeding them is probably a good way to go about it.

I’m also surprised that Mr Lee would suggest letting pet cats out at all. In fact, Mr Lee is the exact reason why the HDB is probably not allowing people to keep cats if this is what he is suggesting. It’s also in direct opposition to what he just said earlier in the article about how easy it is to keep cats indoors.

Pet cats and community cats are NOT the same thing. I find it extremely hard to believe there are estates with NO community cats. If there is a vacuum effect, there will be cats – why? Because of territory, not food. If they are territorial, yes they may be boundary incursions but newcomers will be chased out anyway if the area cannot support more cats.

Let’s take Seletar Estate for one. Mr Tan has said that he has trapped more than 300 cats over the years. Say that for some reason the estate must be home to someone who really, really like cats and enjoy bringing them all home. Now knowing that you neighbour has been trapping and killing these cats, who on earth would bring MORE cats in and let them roam around for your neighbour to kill, especially when he is so well known? So where are these cats coming from? How about the fact that they’re community cats – and they are bringing removed and killed, then there is a vacuum which is then being filled up again, and so the cycle continues.

I know someone who lives in the estate and she does TNRM there. She didn’t even like cats to begin with, but felt sorry for them. She’s not the only one who has tried to run programmes there. When they removed the cats FROM the streets so that they would not be trapped and killed, guess what happened? If you guessed that new cats come in, you’d be absolutely right.

Posted by Dawn

Click on the blog post title to read the discussion. Below is the article itself.


The Electric New Paper :

THE CAT KEEPER

He has ideas on tackling issue of strays
Click to see larger image
TNP PICTURES: CHOO CHWEE HUA

HE IS a cat lover who happens to be the cousin of Mr Tan Tuan Khoon.

Mr Lee Chiu San, 62, a former committee member of the Singapore Cat Club, have flown in pedigree cats and shown them in training competitions.

The retiree, who used to be a general manager of a car company, lets fly on what he feels should change in order to tackle the issue of stray cats.

He said: ‘Generally, stray domestic animals are a health hazard, and they are often a nuisance. They are not like wild birds who find their own food.

‘Stray dogs and cats are more adapted to living on human leftovers. If no one feeds them, they will rummage or steal from garbage bins. In Singapore, that is an issue.’

So what can be done?

Here’s what he says: Firstly, HDB should repeal the ban against keeping cats in flats because there is no basis for it.

He said: ‘HDB has always given stock answer, in the past 30 years, that cats can’t be confined. I do not agree with that.

‘To prevent them from getting out, you can put nylon mesh over the windows and door grille, it’s very cheap, only $3 per metre.’

From his experience, keeping a cat indoor is no problem.

‘In 50 years I have had about two dozen cats. The vast majority adapt to indoor life very well.

‘Even though I do not live in a flat, some of my cats have been kept indoors because they are show cats that cost me four-figure sums. Back in the 1970s that’s expensive, so I was not about to let my cats wander out and get stolen,’ he said.

Currently he has a 17-year-old Persian cat, and two stray cats that he adopted.

Contrary to popular belief, he said cats can be trained.

‘They can be trained to come when they are called. Teaching them where to defecate is the easiest because cats naturally will bury their faeces,’ said Mr Lee.

Which brings him to his second point: Defecation and smell are not issues because cat toilet products are readily available.

His third point: Cat feeders should be stopped.

He said: ‘One of my pet peeves is cat feeders. I feel they belong to the same class as litter bugs.

‘It is already illegal to feed monkeys, so why not cats?’ he added.

His fourth point: Microchipping is now carried out on dogs, rare birds and Arowana fish. It should be compulsory in the licensing of cats so that owners can be traced.

‘The onus is on them to take responsibility. If you want to feed cats, take full responsibility, get it microchipped and take it home,’ he said.

His fifth and final point: Cat feeders exacerbate the problems caused by stray cats, which fight for territory with existing domestic cats.

Mr Lee said: ‘Cat feeders attract stray cats to an area that previously had none. On the street where I live, there are about a dozen cats belonging to a number of households. Many are rescued strays.

‘Animals are territorial. Under supervision, and with understanding neighbours, new cats adopted by households do settle down and know their boundaries. But new stray cats upset the status quo.’

New Paper 20090214: Serial Cat Culler Denies Being Cat Murderer

Because of his geographical closeness to the burial grounds of the 45 cats in Seletar (click on it for full chronology), the chairman of club rad himself, Mr Tony Tan Tuan Khoon was featured in the Valentine’s Day edition of the new paper – the only “productive” outcome of this article, as far as I am concerned, is that his face is now in the public domain, along with his “fame”.

Besides wondering out loud again, “Whatever happened to responsible journalism?”, I shall go no further than pointing out the fallacies of his arguments are more than aptly quashed by Dawn. Yes, the 45 cats are probably not murdered by Mr Tony Tan Tuan Khoon, and he may very well have never personally taken the life of one before. But the fact that he actively, no, AVIDLY traps cats for AVA’s considerate and FREE pickup (more: cat trap loan form and details in pdf format) and culling does push him into the stereotypical definition of a cat murderer, no? Mr Tony Tan Tuan Khoon claims to have stopped counting after he hit the magical number of 300… more than 300 lives ended because of a man’s warped concept of being HUMANE, enthusiatically abetted by the authorities no less.

Oh, the irony: Serial Cat Culler Denies Being Cat Murderer.

I do find it slightly disturbing that before he retired, Mr Tony Tan Tuan Khoon was a “marketing manager for an engineering company”. I have the conception that the work of engineers and marketeers require extreme heavy utilisation of logic and facts, that they can’t think up stuff in vacuum and assume they’re as firm as concrete – nobody could take them seriously otherwise.

In any case, marvel at the illogic of this serial cat culler extraordinaire, article appended, after you read through Dawn’s well-thought out post. TNRM… it IS the only way to go.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Does this look like a suffering cat to you?

Cat lolling, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thank you Chinky for sending this to me. I seriously doubt that putting an animal down is ‘humane’ just because community cats MAY have a shorter life. Also if cats on the street have a tough life, then shouldn’t we be kinder to them instead of killing them?

If one follows this argument to its logical extreme, then if for example there are children who live in slums and have a tough life, ought they to be killed? Certainly they are in all likelihood more inclined to live shorter lives than the rest of us, because of hazards on the street as well. If you follow this warped logic, then charities who help to alleviate their suffering, educate these children, and try and feed and clothe them ought to be closed down. Instead the children should be killed! Does anyone seriously believe that?

Let’s not forget people who are genetically predisposed to a terminal illness. Following this logic again, hey they should be killed! Not only are they very likely to suffer, they are almost certainly going to live shorter lives. If we take this ridiculous argument to its conclusion, then all these people ought to be dispatched with, pronto.

We can’t predict life, nor the quality of life. Are most cats on the streets happy? Yes – unless they are ill-treated, abused or caught to be killed. And many of these cats actually live very long lives – I would argue that very often their lives are cut short precisely because they are caught and killed. If left on their own, they would live out their normal lifespans. It’s not unusual at all now to see community cats that are older, healthy and well taken care of. With concerned community caregivers, many are given vet care and good nutrition. If the people trapping them, or calling up to complain about them would just leave them alone, then they wouldn’t have miserable lives.

Want to be truly humane? Start a TNRM programme.

Click on the blog post title to read the discussion. Below is the article itself.


I’m not the cat killer
TNP PICTURE: TEH JEN LEE

The Electric New Paper :
SELETAR CAT MURDER

THE CAT TRAPPER
I’m not the cat killer
Animal activists point finger at man who has trapped over 300 cats to be put down
HE ADMITS he’s responsible for the deaths of at least 300 stray cats.
By Teh Jen Lee
14 February 2009

HE ADMITS he’s responsible for the deaths of at least 300 stray cats.

And yes, he lives in the Seletar estate area, where the bodies of some 45 cats were found buried two weeks ago.

But Mr Tan Tuan Khoon said he’s not the cat killer that some netizens have fingered as the prime suspect in the shocking Seletar cat deaths.

Since The New Paper reported the case on 2 Feb, netizens have been busy speculating who could be behind the killings, in forums such as Hardwarezone.com and Singapore Cats.

The comments were often emotional and sometimes vicious. One writer even suggested that Mr Tan should be ‘put to sleep instead’.

Another, ProjectMayhem, wrote: ‘This is not just the work of someone who does this malicious act to seek the pleasure of inflicting pain but rather (it’s) a mass genocide in a bid to control the cat population.’

It may not matter so much that words are being bandied about with no great regard for what they mean.

But perhaps it does matter that the writer refers to a ‘strong feeling’ that Mr Tan is related to the incident and gives Mr Tan’s home address on the forum.

Another writer, Fluffy, said: ‘This man in the street is a killer, a serial killer to creatures smaller and defenceless to him, a bully murderer in our midst.’

Mr Tan, 62, who retired from working as marketing manager for an engineering company 10 years ago, said he had nothing to do with the case of the dead cats.

But he does not hesitate to say that he has been trapping stray cats since the 1990s, using his own cages and those provided by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

He then hands the cats over to AVA to be put down.

‘I stopped counting after I trapped around 300 cats,’ said Mr Tan, who e-mailed The New Paper with his theory that the cats were killed by people who were fed up with problems caused by stray cats.

‘What I do is humane’

Mr Tan insisted that trapping and putting down cats is actually the humane thing to do.

This stems from his observation that stray cats generally have a shorter lifespan because of the hazards they face on the streets.

Mr Tan, who feels that stray cats should not be fed, poses this question: ‘Who is the cruel party – the one who humanely shortens their suffering or the one who feeds them and prolongs their suffering?’

Experts The New Paper spoke to said that stray cats tend to live shorter lives than indoor cats, but their lifespan can vary greatly.

Mr Tan claimed he used to keep cats and dogs when he was younger, but gave it up when he started travelling for work.

He started his trapping campaign because he was fed up with cats who defecated in his garden and driveway.

He also faced problems with cats who had kittens in the space between his roof and ceiling.

‘The plywood ceiling boards gave way because of that. Also there were cats who chased my pet rabbit,’ said Mr Tan, whose two adult children are studying or working abroad.

Mr Tan, who used to be a committee member of the Seletar Hills Estate Residents Association, lives with his wife, who works as a secretary, and his maid.

Mr Tan also believes that HDB flat dwellers should be allowed to keep cats.

Under current rules, cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats.

This is because of the high-rise, high-density of flats, which makes residents ‘more prone to disamenities caused by their neighbours’, said an HDB spokesman.

‘In setting the rules on pet ownership, HDB’s principal consideration is to preserve a pleasant living environment and good neighbourly relations. We need to strike a balance between residents who are pet lovers and those who are more sensitive to the disamenities caused by animals,’ the spokesman added.

In spite of this, HDB said it receives an average of about 40 complaints each month on cat-related matters.

Problems include the shedding of hair and defecation by cats in public areas, as well as noises disturbing residents’ sleep.

Mr Tan, however, said: ‘HDB always says that cats wander and cause a nuisance. The root of such complaints is actually irresponsible owners who don’t bother to train their cats.’

Besides changing HDB’s law on keeping cats, Mr Tan wants proper regulations to ensure responsible ownership of cats.

He said: ‘There should be limits on the number of cats that can be kept in one household. We have that for birds like chickens and ducks, why not for cats?’

Ms Sandy Lim, founder of SOS Animals, however, does not agree with Mr Tan’s drastic approach of trapping and putting down cats.

She said: ‘He has a serial culling background. I’ve also heard negative feedback about how he traps cats…

‘So I feel he’s in no position to talk about the welfare of community cats in Singapore.’