Friday, April 28, 2006


Why is it that someone will write in and say they saw an injured cat, and that it needs help and mention they know whom is feeding it and they want to ask the person to get it sterilised, but that they won't do it themselves? Isn't it just as easy to talk to the person as to write in to CWS and ask us to do it?

One woman I spoke to two days ago said she didn't want to talk to her neighbours because she didn't know them very well - but she doesn't know the TC very well either and she certainly doesn't know me! So why the reluctance?


Blogger calsifer said...

Well, delegation, it's all the rage now. This friendly package comes with liability too.

Kids' conduct is delegated to schools, any misdemeanor, teachers can't teach!

Even pet-love can be delegated. The vet told us how he's seen cases where he ask questions, and the families turn to the maid for answers, the unlucky ones who don't have the maid onhand, whip out handphones and try to locate the maid asap. DUUH!

28/4/06 1:25 PM  
Blogger Guttercat said...

Guess it's a question of authority as well; so long as an organisation is involved, regardless which, people would be more inclined (but not always) to listen, as opposed to being approached by a 'nosy' neighbour.

Purrhaps they may fear a negative, or even worse - angry, response, & it could possibly lead to strained relationships with between neighbours.

28/4/06 10:23 PM  
Blogger thesundies said...

I guess CWS has a stronger voice than any other individual.. it would be more credible to hear from an organization rather than just any tom dick harry..

Anyway nice blog and nice videos!

29/4/06 12:44 AM  
Anonymous elaine said...

They should consider another fact too. What if their neighbour finds out it was them who made the complain? The neighbour would question "Why couldn't you approach us first to resolve matters? Why must call 'police' first?"

Well, it's hard to say. I think these pple and the resident committees should be truly educated abt being good neighbours! :) Hence when such 'touchy' matters arise, they would find it easier to negotiate, resolve, reconcile... rather than barge head on with hopelessness, and perhaps, even make animal welfare societies sound like the bad pple who will come and 'catch' you if you do something wrong. :)

29/4/06 3:18 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Elaine is right - I find that a lot of people react by asking why their neighbour didn't just come and ask them first. It does sour the whole relationship sometimes.

I can understand some people thinking it might be good to get an 'authority' involved, but what about just an ordinary case where it's a question of asking someone something.

29/4/06 7:13 AM  
Anonymous disappointed but not surprised said...

This behaviour is hardly restricted to cats alone, of course, as anyone who has lived any amount of time in Singapore will know. Neighbours would rather call the cops anonymously than go and ask a noisy/messy/etc. neighbour to pipe down/clean up. People will whine endlessly in private about stuff that they would not bring up in public. Avoiding any kind of inter-personal conflict seems to be placed particularly high on the list of priorities of some cultures, relative to other priorities (open-ness, individual expression, etc.).

But to be fair, the CWS cannot even just think - "why come to us? why not do something yourself?" Well, then why have an organization in the first place? When people see that there is an organization in place to do something, and it is raising funds for that cause, they assume that is the first place to turn to. If everyone (in the public and in the authorities) acted responsibly in the first place, there might be very few community cats in the first place. Or abandoned children. Or wars. But they didn't - that is why NGOs of various forms are born. And once they are born, some people feel there is license now to delegate basic humanitarian duties to the NGO. That is of course disappointing, but hardly surprising. That some people even care enough to call CWS rather than just ignore the plight of a poor animal is in itself, in the Singapore context, at least, commendable in some ways.

As an aside, person-person humanitarian-ness also can sometimes take a back seat, when people start to justify "I give money/time etc. to so and so cause" - and that takes care of my "being good to my fellow human being" quota for the year.

29/4/06 8:32 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I agree that people often turn to NGOs for help and CWS is happy to do it. I do however think it is quite uniquely Singaporean for people to be so afraid/reluctant to talk to their neighbours - or at least for it to be so widespread. For example, the woman I know who did not want to 'upset' her neighbour by telling her that the community cats were defecating in her yard but chose instead to trap them and send to AVA.

29/4/06 8:52 AM  
Anonymous disappointed but not surprised said...

Unique to Singapore? To some extent, this need to maintain an appearance of social harmony is a cultural characteristic of many east Asian societies - my workplace has many very educated and sophisticated thinkers who were born/raised in various parts of South East and East Asia, but who have also had the experience of living in Western societies for many many years. It is so interesting to see them transform slowly over the years of returning back to Asia - somehow the environment here does that to many - you lose tolerance for open disagreement, for not taking disagreements personally etc., to revert to cultural stereotype (e.g. defending a particular "difficult to explain" action by saying "I do this because I am Chinese/Japanese and that is my culture")

To me it is heartening that NGOs even exists in Singapore, that there are so many volunteers involved, and that so many people look spontaneously to these NGOs for help instead of turning reflexively to the government. About learning to be better neighbours, or better human beings, that will happen too, at some distant point in time - by which time Singapore would also have become an arts Hub, and reached the quarter finals in World Cup soccer, and have world class Universities. I'm not being facetious here entirely, just that these things take a lot of time to happen - and there is some good to be seen in these folks who at least call the CWS instead of ignoring a problem or going to the cops about it.

29/4/06 12:04 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Disappointed, I agree it does take some time, but as Elaine said, it sometimes makes thing much, much worse. I do advise people that it is a generally better idea in my experience to just speak to their neighbour first, but that we'll speak to them if they insist - most would still rather we do it.

What it sometimes also means is that people shirk responsibility - and hopfully we'll see that change

29/4/06 1:56 PM  

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