Friday, September 15, 2006

Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

I was quite surprised that so many people commented on the letter in Today's newspaper. We have sent in our reply to the letter.

The thing that was a twist to me is that the writer of the letter wanted cat caregivers to pick up dog defecation. Now I can understand if the writer was upset there was food leftover - and today in fact, we were just telling the town council that if they do have recalcitrant feeders who do not listen and refuse pick up, they should fine them. This is similar to ANY other situation. The town council said it was difficult to tell the difference between someone feeding responsibly and someone who was not, and I told them in fact it wasn't. For example, if someone cleans up, it's feeding. If they leave food, it's littering. If someone is eating a sandwich on a bench, it's eating. If they toss the sandwich wrapper on the floor, it's littering.

The thing is - no one wants litter. No one wants leftover food. However in this case, the writer is upset with dog defecation - so why not speak with the dog owners who are irresponsible (and who make up a minority of dog owners)? Alternatively, why not just pick up? Obviously it bothers the writer enough to write in, so why not do something? Why ask someone else unrelated to pick up dog defecation? Because they're all animals? Because cat caregivers are the ONLY people living in the estate?

It is sad that this is what is happening - that people are pushing responsibility on to other people. I saw a letter the other day bemoaning lack of courtesy and then asking what the authorities are going to do about it. People are so used to looking to someone else - the government, other residents, the schools - that they have forgotten that they are the best people to effect change.

Not happy with dog defecation? Talk to the irresponsible dog owner. See someone throwing cat food around? Speak to that irresponsible feeder. Upset that people are throwing cans on the street? Talk to the person littering. If you can write a letter, you can speak to the people involved. Or you could start a community project to do something about it.

When I visit the US, there's a park near where I live and the park is maintained by residents. They have a group of volunteers who take care of the park because they feel it's THEIR park. They have a little group to look after the park. They set up little bins in the park with plastic bags so that dog owners can get easy access to plastic bags to pick up defecation. Other residents of the community donate their plastic bags to this endeavour. If you don't pick up, other people will ask you to. I have to say I don't think I've seen defecation in the park and I jog there too.

The idea there is - if you don't do it, no one else will, so you better do something. Here it seems more and more people seem to think, it's not up to me to do it, let's see who I can shove this responsibility to. And that's worrying for our society as a whole.

Caregivers on the other hand, are people who care about the community and who are actively doing something positive for it. Just because they're assuming responsibility for one thing - ie sterilising and managing the cats - doesn't mean they're responsible for EVERYTHING. If anything, they're already doing more for the community than other residents are.

7 Comments:

Blogger koratmao said...

Dawn, you are absolutely right. Singaporeans are so afraid to confront the offender so 'we' convenient chose to go hide at home and wrote complaints to the government. with so many courtesy campaign posters re-invented over time, when are we ever going to realise, the government really have their hands full? and to think why we are labeled a 'fine' city, we are 'told' by government what we shold be doing?
Though I'm a lady clad in suit and high heels, my daily chore when commuting are about 'educating' escalator-right-lane hoggers , MRT pole-hoggers, passengers with Ipod loud enough to be shared by the whole cabin, grab the collar of qeue-cutting kids and glared at spitting or litter bugs, of course, my approach are friendly until they act 'blur' at understanding what i'm talking about.
I wish more Singaporeans would speak up and at least our generation should be considered more cilvilised and socially considerate.
John Ang's suggestion that cat patrol shud pick up DOG poops is way out of context (see my other blog comments), his suggestion is not being considerate, despite he signing off as so.

15/9/06 8:00 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Koratmao is right - and she rightly also points out that some private estates here also have the dog pick up bins. That's a nice simple thing that concerned citizens can do for their estate.

15/9/06 8:37 PM  
Anonymous yskat said...

I am wondering: what's is wrong with a little dog poo on the streets? One of the most interesting cities in the world, Paris (which MM Lee says S'pore should be the Southeast Asian equivalent of), is full of dog poo. What do most parisians do when they step on dog poo? they curse, shrug, and go on living their lives. Perhaps it is because there is no life to live in S'pore that ppl scream and shout about dog pool?

16/9/06 12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dawn,
Before this Australian family in my estate move away, there was dog poo every morning and evening. Their 6 year old girl walks the dog but too scared to pick up the poo.The malay cleaners refused to pick thm up. I know for sure it's not the community cats'. I said to the condo manager I wld gladly pick up the cats'poo from anyone's garden or walkway. But no way am I to pick up the dog's. It's its owners responsibility. It went on for 2-3 mths and the dog was poisoned and died. The Oz lady went to SPCA and sent hate mail to all the residents. The 'criminal' was never caught. He/She is still in the estate! The Oz family moved out after that.

16/9/06 9:35 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Poor dog - it really wasn't his fault. Plus I certainly didn't mean people should take responsibility by poisoning the dog either! I wonder if the family that was upset with the dog spoke with them directly before poisoning the dog? It's a strange habit of Singaporeans that we'd rather poison a dog or trap a cat then just talk to our neighbour if it bothers us so much.

16/9/06 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor dog indeed. A beautiful collie adopted from spca. Dead in a few mths at our estate. The little girl took a plastic bag with her but the poor girl just dared not pick up after her dog. They hv been told off but too late.

16/9/06 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are not the easiest ppl. I carry plastic bags when I walk my dogs, I pick up poo and tie up in bags. Once I disposed of the bags in a nearby green trash bin, I got told off by the resident. So now, I have to carry the "hot" bag home to dispose of it in my own trash bin.
No more talking to neighbours on these walks and no shaking hands!!
I suppose the trash bin is strictly for each home's personal use only.

16/9/06 3:06 PM  

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