Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Meeting halfway

Some days are just more disappointing and difficult then the rest, and this is one of those days.

I sent an email to the town council in question about the residents' requests yesterday and one of the officers called me today. He explained that the town council felt they could not comply with some of the requests as the TC needs to protect their employees. He was also concerned that if there was a written apology, the residents might use it and file a police report with it. I pointed out that if that was the concern, the residents at the meeting had told us that they did not want to go down that route, and something could be put in the letter to that affect (which in fact one of the residents had suggested earlier too as a gesture of goodwill on their part).

I also said this was not about protecting an officer in the course of their normal job scope. Of course any company tries to protect their employees, but not if their employees are doing something wrong or illegal. I asked the officer what would happen if a hypothetical TC officer was found stealing during the course of his job. The officer said that he would file a police report - and I pointed out that this was the same thing. He said he would speak with his General Manager about it again.

In addition, they did not want to have the employee apologise as they felt the town council had already done so,. I said that the caregivers were satisfied that the town council was not involved - but that this particular officer was, and there was no point having the TC apologise.

The officer said they also felt a letter was unnecessary saying that the GM would warn all the officers because he had already told Michelle and I when they met with us. While we had conveyed the message, I think the residents would like to hear it from TC directly - speaking with some residents, I don't think they are insisting it even has to be in a written form as long as they hear it directly from the TC.

While I appreciate that the TC does not want to feel as if they are being held hostage in any way, I also believe that the residents feel that they are compromising on their part, because they are trying to spare the TC unnecessary embarrassment by not pursuing a police report or going to the press (which some people were suggesting earlier). However they do want to be reassured that the matter will not be dropped and that some action will be taken and they want to hear it from the horse's mouth. I believe they are hoping the TC will meet them half way and I said as much to the officer.

I really hope that an amicable method can be found. It is not our position to tell either side what to do - but we really hope to mediate so that a middle ground can be found. However it looks less and less likely we can do anything, and I suggested to the TC that they go back to what we suggested right from the beginning - meet with the residents directly. Right now, we're just passing messages to and fro because we're not in a position to make any of these decisions. If both parties sit down and talk, the situation can be resolved much easier.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're probably more upset that the guy got caught in the first place. As expected they are trying to cover up...disgraceful

16/5/07 7:16 PM  
Blogger VeganCatsg said...

I think this "confrontation" is a very new experience for this or other town council as its officers are used to receiving passive complainants who take no interest in how the officers go about resolving the problems. It is not unlike doctors who now face a new generation of patients who will not sit back and be told what to do. They want to be part of the management. So here we have residents who take an active role in managing their home and indicate their displeasure at a gross mis-management, is hitting hard at the pride and perhaps even the confidence of the TC who is almost like facing a rebellion! But this is the way things will be as even HDB residents become more educated and know their right.
I hope this TC will be humble enough to do the right thing and not treat these active residents as "enemies" but friends who are here to lighten their work load by meeting fellow residents who complain.

16/5/07 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Fed-up Resident of that DAMN TC said...

I will like to remind this TC, in the previous episode where the TC caught the sterilized cats. The residents spoke to 3 media, Channel 8, Straits Times and 958FM.

This episode could have easily exploded into a bigger event if it wasn't beacuse the residents are trying to save face for the TC.

The press knows how to find the right person to talk to. If a satisfactory respond can't be provided by the TC in time. I bet they will receive plenty of free publicity.

However, this time is even worst as this is an animal abuse case. I wonder how the storyline will develop. How the TC officer is above the law? How the TC tried to cover up? How the TC officer treats his resident, like by shouting over the phone? How TC officers ignore emails with reasonable complaint? Yummy story.

17/5/07 12:04 AM  
Anonymous windy said...

I would suggest a full recording of the incident and all responses form TC be made known to the MP.
Not only they protect the cat complainant, they also protect the rest of the TC staff.

They are only protecting their own rice bowls.

17/5/07 12:15 AM  
Anonymous nearby said...

i believe I heard from my friend that her brother was a cleaning supervisor and he said cats were crushed in the gabage compacter.
She mentioned blk 157. Her brother did not do it but some of the workers did.

The dead will return to haunt them.

17/5/07 12:24 AM  
Anonymous ramarama said...

For the longer haul, here's a simple idea that just might work - how about each of you asking your MP to sponsor a bill in Parliament that says no sterilized street animal in Singapore will be killed/culled. Because (1) a sterilized animal would mean that some Singaporean had spent money on the procedure (2) you are guaranteed not to have any more procreation from that animal (3) and if people believe in the vacuum effect, then this animal is also keeping other animals out of that area. And (4) this animal even will anyway die of natural causes within the next 10-15 years.

Getting the HDB ban lifted may be tough for a variety of reasons, but what reason possibly could people object to this simpler proposal to simply stop killing sterilized animals? And then the connection between sterilizing and saving these cats' lives would be made in a much more powerful way to all those feeders who are not sterilizing. And with the law behind them, TC officials will not be able to take the shortcut the next time there is a complaint.

The one downside is that unsterilized animals might temporarily be at greater risk, but that risk might be offset by the long term positives? That is a tough one. But right now, it appears, not killing (or calling AVA or Pest Control for) sterilized animals is just some informal policy some of these individual TCs have adopted, right? - or is it already a law?

BTW, it is interesting that there are hardly any freely wandering dogs in Singapore when there are so many freely wandering cats. Surely this is a direct consequence of the HDB ban? Or is there just less abandonment of dogs, or more sterilizing?

17/5/07 7:47 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

ramarama - they shoot free roaming dogs or trap and kill them.

The residents in this estate went to see their MP in any case a few months ago and he was supportive. I'm not sure however he would sponsor a bill.

17/5/07 8:59 AM  
Anonymous feline and i are siblings said...

Grow up people! Stop pinpointing each other over small petty remarks. i am sure there are other things that you guys can do rather than sitting in front of PC waiting to accuse one another.Just as much you want others to respect one's decision, don't you think it's only fair the same respect should go to the unhappy feeder.

17/5/07 10:39 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17/5/07 11:04 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Who is pinpointing each other here? And of course the unhappy feeder's decision was respected - and has always been.

But you brought up a good point - doesn't respect go both ways? If everyone treated everyone else with respect, and spoke to people they had a problem with first, then a lot of miscommunications could be avoided. Going off to speak to someone else without the full facts first though is unhelpful and very unproductive.

17/5/07 11:07 AM  
Anonymous ramarama said...

If enough people kept asking their MP for a bill, then some MP may indeed sponsor one and it might become at least a bit more of a publicly debated issue. And far less controversial perhaps than removing the cat ban. And yet, a small step towards removing that ban too. That is how democracies work, and despite many snide remarks by many citizens and expats about whether this is a democracy, i think there is enough evidence that there is indeed some serious discussion of issues that citizens feel passionate about. And if you don't try, then it will for sure not happen.

Of course it if is a bad policy for cats overall, then sure - best not to push for it. There is like I said some small increase in risk for unsterilized cats but the longer term benefits surely are good?

17/5/07 11:35 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

ramarama, the AVA now says that they support sterilisation and has funds for it. The problem is in the details - apparently some of the town councils are not happy with the implementation or what they need to do in order for their residents to get hold of the funds.

17/5/07 11:43 AM  
Anonymous ramarama said...

great - then this might be the best time for every CWS supporter to push their MP for a bill. for it would mean saving wastage - saving AVA money that was being spent on sterilization going down the drain.

Once the law is behind you, even just a small "no killing of sterilized animals" law, then so many other recurrent problems would resolve themselves.

17/5/07 11:49 AM  
Anonymous ramarama said...

and that's horrible to learn - that dogs are just shot dead or trapped and killed without a trial. I have indeed seen a few nomadic dogs - they must have tremendous survival instincts.

17/5/07 11:53 AM  
Blogger VeganCatsg said...

AVA said it has written to my TC about the support for sterilisation and I wasn't 'cc' a copy. I asked the TC about this and it has been silence.
I have been wondering what is happening.

17/5/07 12:05 PM  
Anonymous c and d said...

for years, I do volunteer stray dogs rescue in very difficult circumstances. FYI, stray dogs were given food laced with poison in Jurong Island and else where. But AVA culling team continues to deny.

Engineers and construction workers saw meat thrown on the ground and those poor, starving dogs died shortly after consuming the meat.

If AVA is allocating funds for sterilisation, why go through TC?
They appear unable to implement the TNR programme.

Funds should be given to CWS.

17/5/07 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ramarama, I dont know if you are local but if you are not. I can tell u the possibility of any bill supporting "strays" is nil. The official policy is to eradicate all non person grata or strays from our strees as certain impt people feel that they want Singapore to be clean and green and that means ZERO strays which are seen as a sign of a 3rd world country. Modern Singapore should be spotless and modern.

17/5/07 2:00 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

c and d, I was going to say it probably is even harder for people looking after the dogs. Good work for continuing to try!

17/5/07 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh, the way we treat animals here is third world anyway.. they no longer shoot dogs because once they accidentally shot a homeless man under a bridge, but they still use traps and the wire noose thing. (note that it was an issue of safety not cruelty wtf.)Anyway there you have it, the ugly side of Singapore...

17/5/07 3:50 PM  
Anonymous ramarama said...

Anonymous, my origin is not relevant I think. But I will tell you this: I am a keen student of non profit movements and group processes the world over. And i think, in Singapore, if enough people feel strongly about this and get together, the government will listen. And if you are reasonable and show cost savings and efficiency in the long run (and even how a stray animal or two might add to the "vibrancy" of this city), then you might find a responsive voice or at least a public dialogue. Which is way better than the private killing fields that the estates seem to be becoming.

Surely you are encouraged by Dawn's description of current AVA policy as supportive of sterilization? Then? That seems to be a step in the positive direction.

Some things just work through persistent and passionate effort. If you give it up assuming motivations on the parts of others, then the entire effort was wasted. Every two years or so, new people may come into power in various places - so you just try again. Many important victories were won in many parts of the world through just patient and persistent organization and persuasion. I think it would work here as well as anywhere else.

As always, it helps to understand what the motivations are of the other person and working slowly on those motivations, building trust and working towards a win win situation. Once that trust is lost on either side, it is not much point even trying to do anything because you are always second guessing intentions.

17/5/07 3:55 PM  
Anonymous felineandiaresiblings said...

i am thoroughly disappointed with the mediation done by CWS. this doesn't apply to me only, it is also applies to my whole family who adores animals. The mediation done by CWS is unsuccessful and i suppose CWS's words are taken lightly by the TC. That is why they rejected some parts of agreement. I really want to at least see the TC apologize to the residents about the cat abuse. Maybe the confrontation was nothing to TC. Good Luck man, you should have taken a harder approach to confront them.tell them covering up would not help. Please! kindly report this matter to authorities when it is necessary.

17/5/07 5:43 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

felineandiaresiblings - I'm sorry to hear you're disappointed but I wonder if you are actually part of the caregivers in the area? If so, it's a shame you didn't come for the meeting the other night and share your thoughts or via email or SMS.

As I have mentioned many times, our role here is as a mediator - ie not to impose our views on either side. We spoke with the residents - and we relayed the message to the TC. We're awaiting replies from the residents on how to proceed at this point so the mediation is not over.

Again - which authorities do you want to report this to? The police? I've already said this more than once - only one person can make the report. The witness.

Frankly, we didn't (and don't) have to be part of this at all. It's a thankless job - the TC wants the caregivers to 'compromise', some caregivers are unhappy because they want a police report to be made (though of course how they intend to do this I have no idea).

As we already said to the caregivers in the estate, if they would like to deal with their TC themselves, we're more than happy for them to do so. We always ask people to speak directly with the TC, but the caregivers who HAVE contacted me have asked that we continue to help out.

17/5/07 6:00 PM  
Anonymous windy said...

CWS must continue to help with the case. There will be emotionally charged people who will not tolerate TC's cruelty but important to stay calm and assertive.
Dawn and her team has the knowledge, experience and ability to resolve the matter.

Feeders must stay united and support CWS during this time.

17/5/07 8:02 PM  

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