Back from the conference for today. The workshop started late because the earlier sessions all ran overtime - there's so much ground to cover! The interesting thing is sometimes you realise how though everything is so different in terms of geography and culture, things remain the same.
While I was at the conference, one of our volunteers called. The HDB officer in her area was threatening to remove the cats. I called him and he was very difficult. There is a woman who keeps abandoning cats in the area and who has indoor/outdoor unsterilised cats. However no one wants to tackle the source of the problem - this woman! They'd rather go after the cats. Removing the sterilised cats will just lead to new cats coming in and it penalises people like our volunteer who ARE being responsible.
The thing also is that the HDB are NOT the party that remove stray cats in common areas. Anything within the boundaries of your flat is HDB's jurisdiction - anything without is the problem of the town council. It is an arbitrary line - and also explains why there are so many abandonment issues - if HDB for example issues a letter saying to get rid of the cats, and the cats are dumped, it's no longer HDB's problem!
I asked the officer where he got the jurisdiction to remove the strays. I am aware he's probably just going to go to the town council and complain to them and the TC will remove the cats, but he should not be threatening people with removal of cats when it's not within his job scope. In the end, he agreed to call and let me know what the town council will say. The town council has already told the volunteer they will not remove her sterilised cats.