Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Petitions

Someone asked about petitions below with regards to the HDB. It's good to hear people want to write in and people are asking what's the best way of sending in a petition.

For the HDB for example, we had 3000 people sign physical letters in 3 weeks and were told that wasn't representative. What I would suggest is to actually send in emails individually if possible, or with small groups of friends, and that you include your full names and NRIC numbers in those emails.

I know that sometimes people do start petitions on websites with links to ask people to sign up. It's great that people feel strongly enough to do it, and to see how many people sign those petitions. It does show as an indicator how people feel about a situation.

The only thing is I don't think those petitions are taken very seriously by authorities. For one thing, most of them don't require full names and NRIC numbers so they're easy to dismiss in terms of credibility. I'm not even certain that for example that they are actually looked at by the authorities if someone does send them the URL, in any way more than a cursory glance.

What I think IS more effective is to write emails and snail mail. The reason I suggested writing individually or with small groups of friends is that people often feel slightly different about a certain situation - so it's good to have different voices speak up about it in their own words. Even if you do use someone else's letter, it does look like you did look through it and agree with it enough to put your full name and NRIC number on it.

64 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it possible to post the HDB reply on this blog?

27/9/06 11:00 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

You mean the original reply? Or the latest? Because we're still waiting for their response to our last letter.

27/9/06 11:36 AM  
Anonymous imp said...

hah. asking singaporeans to put full names and nric down is akin to asking them to give u a piece of their flesh.

27/9/06 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reply to the 3000 signatures...

27/9/06 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is quite true, what Imp said. You have reasons like what if people take the IC number to borrow money and most impt of all, people fear the GOVT. And they fear that their IC number can be used to trace them and they will be blacklisted esp if they are civil servants for being subversive.

Just like the elections, there was this on going rumour that the election slips are coded and the government can trace who you voted for. Although it is a rumour, it works in the favour of the ruling party. Why? Because if the carrot of upgrading dont work, the stick of imagined action against "subversives" who voted against the party will make sure you vote for them.

Adriane

27/9/06 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adriane - the "rumour" of coded election slips has been going on for years. now, their auditors are their own ka ki nang [i used to work in headhunting and happened to interview a person from that audit firm], how would one be sure that the 66.6% is the truth?

Sorry, ah Dawn, for the off-topic.

27/9/06 4:44 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

We did actually get the people in our petition to put down name and NRIC and even the address, but we did not give the HDB a copy though we let them flip through it.

Point taken though - well full name at least. I have to say a petition signed by "Baby" for example doesn't normally inspire a sense of formality.

Anonymous - this was in the course of our meeting with them. They said 3000 signatures was not a signficant number.

27/9/06 5:06 PM  
Anonymous christine said...

3000 was not a significant number? for an estate or??

i suppose we need to come up with siGnaficANT number such as the FOUR MILLION smil*s?

27/9/06 11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Should a campaign-cum-petition be organised?
There are various benefits to changing the rule not only for cat lovers, but also for AVA and people irritated by the litter and defecation.
1)Decrease the number of cats on the streets.
- the cat owners will most likely sterilise their cats.
- fewer HDB residents will
abandon their cats.
2) Fewer cats mean fewer AVA manpower needed to cull them and fewer litter and defecation.

Last of all, fewer cats expose to abusers.

28/9/06 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One can't deny that the authorities find 3000 is a small number compared to the estimated population of 4 million, minus off those of little decision making value such as children, the elderly, 3000 is nothing. To make the govt sit up and listen, you need at least 20,000.

3000 out of 4 million is less than 1 percent, neglible. Remember our Govt always give reasons that decisions are made based on majority and minority views are taken into account but should not expect any leeway to be made for them.

28/9/06 10:00 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - yes it is a small number, but we pointed out to them that they were basically signatures we didn't have to solicit. They were signatures we got in three weeks essentially without trying too hard. Plus we asked them what would be a significant number and they refused to comment.

I actually think we'd get the same response if it was 20000 (ie we can also find 20000 who don't like cats).

The point of our petition at the time was that we had been told that no one wanted to own cats in flats or had approached the HDB for permission to do so. We wanted to show there WERE people.

28/9/06 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need campaigns and lobbying by professionals such as doctors, lawyers and it would help if you can get a MP (Ruling Party one) on your side. Only then will you be able to engage the govt, if not frankly with petitions signed by "baby" as Dawn said, really hold no weight.

The thing that must change is that the Govt must realise that animal welfare groups are made up of professionals, people they want to retain and that they want to vote for them. And not a group of kids and elderly or nutcase that have nothing better to do than to keep saying I LOVE ANIMALS

28/9/06 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dawn, no offence to you. I wasn't saying 3000 is a small number, I am just speaking from the govt point of view. Actually frankly once they have made their mind on something, nothing will change their mind. The IR was a good example. Heard that a minister that opposed the IR was rebuked by PM.

28/9/06 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why that HDB rule was made in the first place?

28/9/06 10:21 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous no offence taken - just that we wanted to show that there WERE people who wanted to allow cats in flats (HDB said at that point no one had approached them). We did consider doing a Gallup poll but it was very expensive and having seen their response, I'm not sure it would have any impact.

Secondly, I think that anyone writing in is great as long as they are sensible - for example, just saying I would be a responsible pet owner and would like to own a pet is as good a reason as any I think.

HDB said their reasons were 'historic'.

28/9/06 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could the CWS work with other animal welfare groups to organise a nationwide campaign for HDB to change its rule?

28/9/06 4:42 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - a campaign how exactly?

I think the thing is this - HDB doesn't want to hear from animal welfare groups. I think they feel they've heard enough from us. They want to hear from ordinary residents on how they feel. I think they believe that not enough people want cats in flats. If enough people let them know they do, i am sure they will change their policy.

Also we have asked for another meeting, because we have proposal No. 3 for them. We're still awaiting their reply.

28/9/06 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A campaign to raise awareness among average Singaporeans. Highlighting the benefits of HDB rule change.

28/9/06 11:19 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous I guess I meant how in terms of execution? Posters? Postcards? Any suggestions? We don't have a very large budget as you know and most campaigns do cost quite a lot.

28/9/06 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's why i suggested having a multi-group effort. Get other animal welfare groups as well as other voluntary organizations or even RC and TC. We should try to go about it through the non-animal lovers' perspectives - the inconveniences caused by cats roaming around the streets.

28/9/06 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The heartlands, especially those with the most stray cats, will be a good location for campaigning.

28/9/06 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The heartlands, especially those with the most stray cats, will be a good location for campaigning.

28/9/06 11:44 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - I'm not sure that will fly with the HDB. One thing we're asked is how we can be sure that people will ADOPT cats- what if they just go out and buy more?

I do agree that RCs and TCs would help. I don't think hearing it again from welfare groups is what they want to hear right now, and in this I agree. Different people speaking up is great - and I think they want to hear from the residents. That's what they keep telling us.

28/9/06 11:48 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - I'm not sure that will fly with the HDB. One thing we're asked is how we can be sure that people will ADOPT cats- what if they just go out and buy more?

I do agree that RCs and TCs would help. I don't think hearing it again from welfare groups is what they want to hear right now, and in this I agree. Different people speaking up is great - and I think they want to hear from the residents. That's what they keep telling us.

28/9/06 11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a kind of special license for those who adopted dogs? If there is, a similar license can be issued for cats and the HDB can limit the ownership to those possessing that kind of license for cats.
The HDB should have the resources for it. After all, they are regulating dog breeds. For cats, it's simpler - just special license or not.
Anyway, adoption is definitely cheaper and more value-added to HDB residents.

29/9/06 12:11 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Yes it would be - but there are people who even now, prefer to buy pedigree cats.

We have suggested ways to license the cats to HDB but so far no go.

29/9/06 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the HDB can ban cats, it can ban pedigree cats.

"We have suggested ways to license the cats to HDB but so far no go."

Seems that the HDB is dead against cat ownership. This is why we need to raise awareness among the heartlanders and in turn raise this issue to the HDB. After all, the policymaker need to understand the inconvenience these people went through because of cats on the street.

29/9/06 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In order to suggest an acceptable licensing solution, we need more information from HDB. Could their reasons for rejection be posted on this blog?

29/9/06 12:38 AM  
Blogger auntie p said...

3000 is not significant, but 500 applications to buy the sbs $98 bus pass and they say it was overwhelming response.

Say what they will lah.

29/9/06 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is CWS going to start on the campaign?

29/9/06 12:51 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - what I've been trying to say is I think it would be good if NON-welfare groups also spoke up - ie people like yourself. We are already meeting with them, sending proposals, but we've been told that ordinary Singaporeans don't want cats (ie people NOT from welfare groups).

So having a campaign from another welfare group (or a group of welfare groups) is still not going to be seen as addressing what the HDB is saying - which is that no one other then the welfare groups care about this issue. What I've been stressing is that the best thing you can do is to write in - NOT as part of a welfare group 'campaign'.

29/9/06 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also been trying to say that the campaign is for people NOT from animal welfare groups.

To make them CARE about this issue. After all, since they are the ones inconvenienced by cats roaming the street.

29/9/06 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would only a few letters make the HDB sit up and take notice?

If the letters came from only animal lovers, how would the HDB regard them?

If no effort is made to engage the heartlanders, would they understand the benefits of the rule change?

29/9/06 1:47 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I'm not sure a lot of people would be convinced it would help them - for example, how do they know people WILL take cats off streets?
Secondly, even if they did, would they be that interested to write in to HDB? As we've said the people who are 'inconvenienced' by cats isn't that huge a number either. In Tampines (the biggest TC), they received 140 complaints in 6 months.

I think that instead of getting the vast majority of people who probably don't care either way, why not get people who WANT to keep cats to write in?

29/9/06 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if 3,000 signatures on a petition are not enough, then how many letters to HDB will be considered enough?

yes, we can all write in and encourage our friends and animal lovers to write in but then no one will know how many letters they have received and who said what. if they were to ignore the letters, it will be as if nothg had been done.

also, i don't think it's realistic to expect cats to fly off the streets once HDB dwellers are allowed to keep cats. it's not as if everyone will run downstairs and grab a choice comunity cat and bring it home. that is not a realistic gauge of the success of the change. it's more that 70% of the population will be alowed to keep a pet cat if they want. it's their choice whether they wish to buy a pedigree or adopt a moggie from a shelter. but at least u free up that group of the population to generate a demand. also, legalising pet cats in HDB flats will cut the panicked dumping everytime a warning letter is issued.

29/9/06 3:40 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous but those 3000 signatures were collected by a welfare group. There is this perception sometimes that we don't speak for the general Singaporean.

I think there are two very different things here - HDB is precisely worried that people will start taking in more cats. They see this as contributing to the situation. I agree totally that it will help with abandonment.

What you can do is write to the HDB and copy the Ministry and your MP. Even if HDB ignores it, the Ministry and your MP will get copies too. You can also send us a copy if you wish though usually when we tell them we get letters from members of the public, they tell us they get complaint letters from others.

29/9/06 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,
I thought the HDB wanted signatures "representative" of the residents. Are animal lovers "representative"? Besides, nobody mentions anything about asking the vast majority to write in. This can be a campaign to educate and get signatures from non animal lovers.

29/9/06 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you post the HDB's reasons for rejection on this blog?

30/9/06 12:09 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous, I think you hit it on the head - I don't think they do believe we're 'representative'.

Also as I said, I don't think people who don't want cats themselves are going to write in - frankly because i don't think they care enough either way. I think most people wouldn't mind if their neighbours keep cats, but I don't think they'd be writing letters asking that they be allowed to keep the cats either.

The reasons were firstly, that cats wander (which we refuted with the vet reports), that they might get too many complaints (which we pointed out was a very small number really), and that they have to look at the feelings of the majority.

30/9/06 12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those people, we just need to educate them and have their signatures.

Hopefully, this is "representative".

30/9/06 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there are residents, including non animal lovers, who decried cat abuses, especially the recent high profile ones. Now is a good time for campaign. With the rule change, there will be less abandonment, hopefully more adoption and less cats exposed to tortures.

30/9/06 12:26 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Sorry who are those people? I think as I said, most people who don't already either like animals or think people would like animals in flats would sign the petition. If I didn't particularly like cats, I wouldn't be inclined to sign - because chances are I don't care either way. What are we trying to educate them on?

Also just because people feel animals shouldn't be abused doesn't translate to people thinking cats should be allowed in flats I think. You have to feel pretty strongly FOR something, and not because you're against something else I think, to sign a petition. Let me give an example - say I'm trying to get people to sign a petition for the death penalty. Now say I approach the group of people who believe that instances of crime should be cracked down on, and penalties enforced. Now undoubtedly some people in the latter group will agree with you, but I think you would be hard pressed to find most people in the latter group signing a petition for the former.

30/9/06 12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do they don't like cats or just the people feeding them without cleaning or the way the cats defecate on the streets?

30/9/06 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Campaign to educate the benefits of HDB rule change.

30/9/06 12:42 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Most people don't like it when cats cause nuisance - usually through defecation, or when people litter.

Okay - so what are the benefits to a person who doesn't particularly care about cats either way (the vast majority of people)?

30/9/06 12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is simple, if you like cats, you will bother to speak up and write in. If you dont like you wont bother, hence if you write in then you are labelled automatically animal lover. And hence to HDB not the group they want to hear from. Its a lose lose situation with the fixed mindset they have. And frankly the issue of cats being a nuisance... the fastest and most immediate situation that they deem effective is culling. Remove and problem solved... is that not the most effective method? We do that with roaches and rats so surely catsare the same..

30/9/06 2:04 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I think the difference is this - if you're an HDB resident and you write in (not because of a campaign organised by a welfare group) and say you would LIKE to keep a cat, it would make a difference. Look at how many people keep cats already - if all of those people, plus those who might want to keep cats wrote in, that would defintely be significant.

30/9/06 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Okay - so what are the benefits to a person who doesn't particularly care about cats either way (the vast majority of people)?"

Refer to comment #9

30/9/06 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the difference is this - "if you're an HDB resident and you write in (not because of a campaign organised by a welfare group) and say you would LIKE to keep a cat, it would make a difference. Look at how many people keep cats already - if all of those people, plus those who might want to keep cats wrote in, that would defintely be significant."
How is this "representative"? Would this be effective?

30/9/06 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And frankly the issue of cats being a nuisance... the fastest and most immediate situation that they deem effective is culling. Remove and problem solved... is that not the most effective method? We do that with roaches and rats so surely catsare the same.."

For some, dogs are also a nuisance, especially the unapproved breeds found in HDB. Were any reported cases being culled?

30/9/06 11:28 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I'm still not sure how that people are going to be convinced that by allowing cats, more people will take them in. Also have you thought of the converse? right now, people are told, why don't you take the cats home? And many caregivers explain that beside the vacuum effect, they can't. These caregivers are going to get more flak because problems of defecation are STILL going to happen. Allowing cats into flats does NOT mean no cats on the street. So if you tell people with problems with the cats they will have less cats on the street and that's not true, then what happens?

How is it representative? it's representative of people who actually WANT to keep cats.

HDB doesn't cull anything - not dogs or cats. Let's be clear about the difference between community cats and HDB owned cats. To try and say that there will be less cats on the street if you allow people to take cats in and expect a significant decrease is just not practical - and even if people DID take in the cats,new cats would move in anyway due to the vacuum effect unless such huge numbers of people took in cats.

1/10/06 1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...new cats would move in anyway due to the vacuum effect unless such huge numbers of people took in cats."

This is the key. Panicked residents has been abandoning due to the ban. By legalising, there will be a reduction in abandonment and from there, fewer "new cats" moving in.

2/10/06 9:55 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous I think you misunderstand me. These new cats moving in are NOT pet cats - I'm talking about other community cats moving in from surrounding areas. There are two sources of cats in an area. Abandonment is one. The other are the community cats ALREADY present on the street. Stopping abandonment is great - but removal of the cats unless it's done in HUGE numbers, means that new cats from surrounding areas just move in. The two are not the same.

2/10/06 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Stopping abandonment is great - but removal of the cats unless it's done in HUGE numbers, means that new cats from surrounding areas just move in."

Could you back up your assumption?

"I think that instead of getting the vast majority of people who probably don't care either way, why not get people who WANT to keep cats to write in?"

The key word is "vast majority".

2/10/06 11:14 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Yes it's called the vacuum effect, which is a proven phenomenon. It's covered in our sterilisation brocure and we've seen it happen time and again when people take cats off the street. Most people with their own colony see it happening too. That's why removal is not effective as a means to control the cat population.

Yes - but how to get the vast majority to write in when they don't care either way? A LOT of people keep cats, just look around any block of flats - they have a significant voice.

2/10/06 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn, I am not a cat lover or hater and I do not object to HDB owners keeping cats IF they keep their cats indoors at all time or make sure their cats do not sneaked into neighbours house. If that is not possible, I strongly object flat owners keeping a cat at home.

Recently, one of my neigbhours kept a cat along the corridor and it came into our house. My wife, who is terrified of cat (a bad childhood experience) had a bad fright and insisted on calling the SPCA. I managed to stop her from doing so as I suspect they may just put the cat down. I do not want to fence up my gate. Is there anything I can do to stop the cat from entering?

HDB disallows keeping of cats due to the following reasons:
Cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats as they are nomadic in nature and are difficult to be confined within the flats. Due to the nomadic nature of cats, the nuisances caused by cats such as shedding of fur, defecating/urinating in public areas, noise disturbance etc would affect the environment and neighbourliness in our housing estates. In view of this, HDB has the policy of not allowing cats to be kept in HDB flats.

Yz

2/10/06 11:55 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Hi YZ, if you drop me an email I can speak with your neighbour.

We have had 30 vets who have agreed that the cats are not nomadic. The fact of the matter is that if you open a door, anything, a cat, a child or a dog will wander out. It is the OWNER'S responsibility to keep the cat in - and we think that all owners SHOULD keep their cats indoors. If so, I don't think you would have a problem with the cat right?

2/10/06 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Recently, one of my neigbhours kept a cat along the corridor..."

Your neighbour did not keep it in the flat due to the ban?

If cat ownership is legalised but enforced with licensing/tracking chip programme, the owners may be motivated to keep their cats at home.

2/10/06 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn, yes, if they are kept indoor, I will not have any complaints. I locked my metal gate but I have to open my main door or else it will be very stuffy. We seldom get dogs running into household, although I know it do happen, since the owners are required to lease them. A child is highly unlikely to come in, at least my wife is not afraid of a small child.

The problem is, I do not know who the cat belongs too, it has a collar on its neck though. It just wanders along the corridor. I just carried it to the void deck whenever I see it, but it comes up again a few days later.

I think if it comes into my house again, I will not be able to stop my wife from calling Town counsel or HDB.

Yz

2/10/06 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no idea why the neighbour keeps the cat along the corridor. I see the cat(with a collar therefore someone should be taking care of it) resting at a corner in the middle of the night. All the doors on my floor are closed, and we do not have any windows along the corridor, so I presume one of the neighbours kept it outside.

2/10/06 1:55 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

YS how about dropping me an email with your address? We may need to flyer your block.

Could you also get a water spray? If the cat comes near your wife, ask her togive it a squirt of water.

2/10/06 2:01 PM  
Blogger Adelaide said...

heck la, just keep. who cares and not that our cats are running amuck attacking unsuspecting, helpless and hapless people

4/10/06 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I support what the HDB has done.
I think HDB can conduct random checks on families, so those with cats will have to pay a heavy fines, and HDB will have every right to take back the flat :)

5/10/06 10:03 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous, technically it could be argued it's unconstitutional - you can't 'randomly' enforce a law. It's like if we randomly enforce the law against murder. We can't pick and choose whom we feel like prosecuting.

Plus, this isn't just about cats. It's about your right to do what you want in your own home. What if they decide one day tvs are too noisy and tell you that you can't have a tv? I know some peoples' tvs are certainly a noise nuisance.

6/10/06 12:24 AM  

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