Monday, July 24, 2006

HDB replies

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?

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hate to says this, but HDB is run by a group of archaic old men with a tiny mentality frozen circa 1970. to make them budge and make changes is like trying to push an old cow off her lazy ass on her favourite grass patch. it is so obvious to everyone but themselves that their policies, and not only on cats, are based on fluff and nothing else but fluff. sometimes i wonder why tax payers have to fund their pampered seats in their granite mansion in toa payoh. all that $$$ carpeted on the floors and walls. geez!

24/7/06 4:38 PM  
Anonymous mr giggles said...

This is a whole load of bulls*** the HDB is citing. Logical reasoning doesn't seem to follow in the veins of a Board that has just honoured the passing of their founding father, by remaining stupid.

Oh, this is the same Board, that does have the moeny for upgrading provided you vote in a candidate of a certain political party, but has since refused to allow the same funds it had set aside for upgrading purposes, becasue the said candidate was rejected by the constituency that decided integrity cannot be bought. The kind of quality citizens any country would be proud to have.

So, if a "simple" thing as releasing funds already available to make the lives of Citizens better can be "reasoned" away, do you really think to make lives better for the "minority" cat lovers and the non-voting cats can actually sway its decision not to inconvenience itself with new rulings?

The day that the HDB actually comes to its senses will be the day that I singly strike the S$10M TOTO and be able to open a cattery large enough to house ALL the stray cats in Singapore after getting them ALL sterlised, and have moeny left over for the rest of their lives so that there will not be a single stray cat roaming the streets of sterile Singapore.

It will always be a fantasy.

24/7/06 4:38 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Oh dear - I really hope not! I really do hope that we'll be able to work with HDB - and that it's a matter of time before they change their policy.

24/7/06 5:10 PM  
Anonymous mr giggles said...

OK, Dawn, to keep your hopes up a little, maybe the day the HDB decides to release the upgrading funds to Potong Pasir and Hougang, while they are both still under the opposition party, will be the dawning of your goal of getting the HDB to change the rules on cats in flats.

Thankfully, the in-the-field HDB officers themselves are generally more reasonable and compassionate than the "higher up" guys.

In the meantime, regardless of religion, we should consider spreading the belief of "karma" :-)

24/7/06 6:42 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Actually you're right - there are quite a few officers who are pretty sympathetic. One officer I met last week told me though that when he tried to convince them to try and sort it out some other way, the complainant would say that it was against the law and that he was not doing his job.

24/7/06 6:48 PM  
Anonymous belle said...

i have a comment -

since HDB is stubborn abt this policy, don't bring up the matter again ... otherwise those of us responsible cat owners who never let our cats out, will be in trouble ... since we're actually 'breaking the law' ...

if they confiscate my cats, they will be breaking my heart ...

i love my cats dearly and they're my cockroach catches ...

why doesnt town council think of a way to eradicate roaches instead of bullying cats ?

so its better for us to 'diam diam keep quiet' for the sake of the cats in our flats ...

what do u think ?

25/7/06 2:22 AM  
Blogger vegancat said...

I think the many rebuttal to HDB's mantra "cats shed hair, cats make noise, cats are dirty" is having some effect. Recent replies to individuals who wrote to MND calling for removal of prohibtion of cats into HDB homes were told that no action will be taken for keeping cats unless there is a complaint but still this "mantra" that "majority" do not like cats. At least someONE recognized that the earlier mantra was too ridiculous to be used again. But its current reply is still an insult to the intelligence of HDB residents. How long do we have to "suffer" in silence habouring illegal occupants?

25/7/06 7:11 AM  
Blogger Salt * Wet * Fish said...

This is a result of years of giving too much power to the incumbents and letting run the show, where they report to no one by the ruling power.

If they say that the "majority" don't like cats, I would like to see that survey statistics. What about dogs then, I am sure that at least 30% of the population don't like dogs (well, not that they don't like, but their religion keeps them away).

I think its important to keep harping on this issue until they change the policy, because by keeping quiet, nobody will know that such efforts is going on.

2 ways I can think of to bring this issue up. A petition (not online), rather get people to physically sign a petition to HDB (get the press also) during one of the society's roadshow. The 2nd is to raise this in the ST forum and get HDB to give statistical replies to their claims.

This is no different from gay equality in Singapore. On the one hand, they say tha gay is okay, but on the other hand they don't want to change the law, so that gay people can still be jailed/fined for having sex privately. Of course, the reasons why don't change law? The "majority" are not comfortable and we are an "asian" society.

25/7/06 8:29 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Belle, Vegancat is right - in the letter to us they also said that they will prosecute if there is a case of nuisance. This is a vicious cycle - if no one speaks up, then the HDB will say no one wants cats. If no one wants cats, then they don't have to change the rule. So if we don't speak up, then there will never be a change in the policy.

Salt Wet Fish, we did have a petition and 3000 people signed in 3 weeks. The HDB however felt this was not enough.

25/7/06 9:13 AM  
Blogger vegancat said...

I agree that we persevere with vocalization in every media possible and "recruit" people into being, perhaps a little more (com)passionate about cats. At the moment, the default term for any issue regarding cats is "cat nuisance". We need to change this gahmen mindset.
Imagine....if cats are really rid off...what reminds in this beautiful garden city...are ***shivers*** the two legged kinds.....who spit, who litter, who dig their noses, who talk loudly...then we will regret the real beautiful feline beings are all gone!

25/7/06 10:02 AM  
Blogger vegancat said...

Can we repeat the petition again? This time with more publicity. What is there to lose when there is no gain yet?

25/7/06 10:04 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Good point Vegancat - what do the rest of you think? I too agree that there isn't much to lose - but some others may feel that they are understandably worried about the safety of their own cats.

25/7/06 10:22 AM  
Anonymous belle said...

vegancat,

how to change govt mindset ?

1) cats are dirty
2) singles do not value family
3) latebloomer (students) are stupid
4) elderly are useless
5) foreigners are talented, s'poreans not

etc etc ... *sigh*

i think the message to potential cat owners is this - first u must neuter your cat ... then it won't wander around and then u can keep it indoors (else govt will punish)... teach them abt litter trays & cat litter ... alot singaporeans are kindhearted but ignorant ...

25/7/06 11:45 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Belle, I think if enough people ask for change, the mindset can be changed.

You're right about asking people to sterilise - but right now, people DON'T think it's their cat. It is in their interest not to 'own' a cat because they might get fined. Promote a sense of ownership and then sterilisation, keeping a litter tray, etc will be easier to push. People are saying these aren't their cats - so they don't sterilise, etc.

Also it's anomalous, why are dogs, rabbits, hamsters, birds, fish, etc allowed and cats are not? The HDB seems to have given up their old reason of 'cats wander' in recent letters. So what's the difference?

25/7/06 11:57 AM  
Blogger Salt * Wet * Fish said...

Dawn,

I think we can try again.. with blogging, we can get this news into as many blog sites as possible and hopeful more people turn up lor...and try to make it to the news too, stomp, today, ST, etc

25/7/06 1:53 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Thanks Salt Wet Fish for your enthusiasm! I think the Society going to write in and ask for another meeting. Doing some research this afternoon.

25/7/06 3:53 PM  

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