Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Doing it yourself

A young woman wrote in the other day to say that she had found an injured cat and sent it to the SPCA. She then wrote to me to say that she hoped the cat would be rehomed. I pointed out that the cat might have to be euthanised if it was sick and asked if she had read the form. She said she had not - she did sign something but she didn't really read it. When she heard the cat might have been put down, she felt very bad. I told her that she hadn't known better and that she shouldn't feel too terrible but that now she knew.

Now this young woman, whom I could tell has only the best of intentions, asked me a very interesting question. She asked whom she should call the next time she sees an injured cat. When I suggested she take it to the vet, she was agreeable immediately but the thought seemed a novel one to her.

I was reminded of this today when someone SMSed me to tell me she saw a cat in a cage. She wants someone to go down and look. When I asked why she could not go, she said her friend had seen the cat and that her friend did not want to do it. She considered her duty done (and asked for an update) once she had told me about this. Telling someone that you saw a problem is not doing something - it's merely telling someone you saw a problem.

It seems as there is a tendency, in Singapore at least, that if there is a problem, the proper solution is to call somebody and refer the problem to them. Once when I was speaking to a home owner about a cat issue, the person kept asking me whom they could call to take care of the problem. At that point, the person washes their hands of the problem.

This isn't something that just happens obviously just to complainants and even people who find sick cats/injured cats/cats that need sterilisation/etc. Even within the TCs/Ministries/etc when a problem is referred to them, the problem is channeled to the right department.

Obviously in the civil service, no one department can do it all and referring it to the right department with the right resources is probably the best thing one can do. However when it seems as if there is no one to channel it to (for example, who exactly handles cat complaints without say removing the cats) then some officers at least, have no compunctions about handing the matter over to caregivers or CWS as if caregivers are the 'authority' that ought to handle it. Caregivers do not mind working co-operatively with the person who referred the problem, but the mindset of handing the problem off to someone else has to change.

Perhaps one issue here is that the authorities are so efficient. There is a government department here to handle just about everything - and if there isn't, then if the complainant makes enough noise, someone will try and handle it somehow.

The unintended consequence of this however is that we're also building a society that does not function like adults, who handle our own problems. Every time we have a problem, we call for someone and they fix it. When they don't, then we whine.

Here's an idea that may come as a surprise to some - the next time there is a problem, try and fix it yourself first! It will empower you, help the already overburdened authorities and basically make us more self-reliant. And that's a good thing.

I have to say though that I'm probably already preaching to the converted - after all many of you are already doing something on your own, which is to practice TNRM. Most of you did not just sit around, throwing your hands up because there was no one to 'refer' the problem of cats being killed and not being managed properly. You went out and did something about it - and that's something you can justifiably be proud of.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gahmen should have a new national DIY campaign to get Singaporeans to be more self-reliant. They should also give tax incentives to promote independent thinking.

11/7/07 2:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home