A reply from the HDB! We spoke with the Minister months ago and he said he would send our proposal on to the HDB. We just got a reply which came in the mail.
The HDB said that they considered our proposal earlier and were not going to change their policy. We had told the Minister that while we had submitted the same proposal to the HDB, we stood by our ealier proposal but felt that it was even more important to change the rules in regards to the fact that a lot of people are not keeping their cats in because OF the HDB ruling.
Now the HDB can :-
(1) continue to pretend people don't own cats and then send letters telling ANYONE they will be fined if they have cats or
(2) they could change the ruling, ensure that cats MUST be sterilised, microchipped and kept indoors at all times. The residents could then register with their RCs so no additional work needs to be done by HDB. A cap on the number of cats kept could be enforced, with a compassionate period to allow existing cats to pass away.
Now in scenario (1), what do cat owners do (and let's not pretend that quite a lot of people don't already own cats) if they get a letter from the HDB now? They don't want the cats to die, so they get a letter, get frightened and then DUMP THE CATS! Alternatively, they decide that it's a better idea not to get into trouble in the first place, so why not just let the cats wander as we see happening all the time? That way they don't sterilise, feel no ownership for the cat and can claim it is not their cat so they don't get into trouble.
Let's not forget that this means ANY owner, no matter how responsible is still subject to the same ruling. So if you have one cat at home, sterilised and which never goes out, you're treated the same as someone whose cats are not sterilised and keep breeding and breeding till the flat is over-flowing with cats.
Now let's consider scenario (2), cat owners know that they have a set of conditions they must follow, but let's face it, it's not too difficult to follow. People will be able to live without fear that they are going to get a letter being asked to pay a huge fine of a few thousand dollars for keeping cats. What is the price of sterilisation and microchipping compared to that? If you make it easy enough, people will by and large do the responsible thing - right now the laws are actually discouraging you from being a good, responsible pet owner.
In addition, people who are being irresponsible can still be fined under nuisance laws. So this means that basically, if you're a responsible cat owner, you can keep the cat without fear. If you're an irresponsible owner, you can STILL be fined or worse, if you keep breaking the law on nuisance.
So let's recap - basically a change in the law would mean you could still fine someone whose cat is a nuisance and that people who are responsible could basically live without fear of being caught for the mere act of having a cat.
So the reason why we're not changing the law is because ??? Oh that's right! The 'majority' of residents who do not want cats in flats.
I'd really, really like to work with the HDB to change the ruling because I think it would make all residents - those who do like cats, and those who don't - happier. It is making it very hard though that they keep citing this 'majority' who do not want cats in flats, whom I'm really not sure exist. How do we know that they're the majority and not the vocal minority who may complain several times? How many people would it take to be pro-cats in flat before the rule is changed? The HDB itself stated that the number of complaints does not exceed a few hundred. So how do we know the rest don't want cats in flats?