Saturday, September 12, 2009
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Today Online 18 Nov 05
No strays = social responsibility
Letter from Geraldine Soh Geok Lian
During a visit to the Social Responsibility Carnival organised by the Tampines Town Council on Nov 12, I was taken a back by two posters.
There was a gigantic blue check mark on a poster bearing the words "An Estate Where There Is No Strays" (picture), while a "Feeding Stray Cat" poster, which featured a sterilised stray cat eating neatly off a newspaper, was marked with a huge red cross.
Maintaining an estate devoid of cats does not equate with social responsibility. Neither is feeding strays socially irresponsible.
As a country with first-world infrastructure, the Town Council's aim of a stray-less Tampines shows Singapore's backward mentality. The anti-cat stance harks back to medieval Europe's prosecution of cats, which were branded as heretical due to their role in "pagan" worship.
In the same period that the church sponsored the Grand Inquisition, cats were tortured. Europe's cat population shrank to less than 10 per cent of its former numbers.
Ironically, the Black Death brought a brief respite to such persecution in the 14th century. Cats rapidly multiplied and attacked the plentiful food supply: the plague-carrying rats. There is evidence that the plague (that claimed two-thirds of Europe's population) ended partly due to the rise in the number of cats.
Similarly, after the Agri-Veterinary Authority cancelled the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme in 2003 and culled more cats, a rat extermination drive was launched later that year. More taxpayers' money was spent as a result.
Studies have shown the benefits of interaction with animals and how children exposed to pets develop tolerance, compassion and social responsibility. Unfortunately, the carnival instilled negative values in our children: the intolerance of other living beings in our community and the acceptability of a sterile humans-only Singapore.
Lest we forget, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong stated during his walkabout in Kim Keat that it is not illegal to feed stray cats, but it must be done responsibly.
Unless Singaporeans are proud of being a sterile nation, attitudes such as those held by the Tampines Town Council must change.
Tampines Block 702, Street 71