Thursday, September 13, 2018

Level of service from Singapore Post getting from bad to worst




 

The delivery of normal local mail takes between 1 to 2 working days. That is on paper. but the reality is that the mail is now being delivered as late as 4 days or more.  This places residents in much anxiety if the mail is very important.

 

My brother posted me an important mail to me on Monday 10th September morning and rightfully, I should have got it by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. Today is Thursday 13th September and I have yet to get that mail.

 

Added to that, the postman has on two occasions placed my letters in the wrong letter boxes in my block.

 

To add insult to injury when I called SingPost at 3pm to provide feedback on my long overdue mail, as I could not get the PR Executive at the time, I was pushed from pillar to post. The manager refused to take my urgent call and the customer service officer told me he was, Busy” and could only return my call before 6pm.  This is horrendous service!

 

Finally, after several attempts I managed to speak to the Head of PR, one Robin Goh.  He was helpful and assured me that he will get the supervisor of mail, one Filipino by the name of Isabelo to urgently look into this matter.

 

Isabelo just phoned me and told me they will investigate the matter and revert to me, but cautioned that as the mail was not registered, it would be difficult for SingPost to track it.

 

So much for quality service and the move towards a smart nation in Singapore!

 

Sincerely,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Opinion piece: Strengthen filial piety and family bonding for caregivers through more support measures and subsidies : An open proposal to the Singapore Government


 
As a caregiver to several immediate relatives, past and present, I fully appreciate and support the suggestion to allow the use of Medisave to pay for nursing home charges (Allow use of Medisave to pay nursing home charges; Sept 10, 2018, The Straits Times).

Many Singaporeans who have and will become caregivers suffer burnout as it is very draining to look after a loved one with chronic conditions, be it physical or mental.  Some will lose key social support, become isolated and lose a monthly income when they have to take on the unenviable task of caregiving.

Many caregivers will not feel comfortable to place their sick loved ones in a nursing homes as they will become guilt-ridden, feeling that they are abandoning them. So, they opt to hire a helper, but that will place the family caregivers in much anxiety as they would find it difficult to pay for the helper’s salary. 

Faced with this dilemma, some may fall into depression and then there is just too much problems for everyone in the household to manage and cope with. We should prevent this from happening– more so when Singapore facing a rapid ageing population.

To this end, I propose that the authorities consider opening a Medisave account to allow such caregivers to pay the helper’s salary through this special scheme so long as there are sufficient funds to meet the caregiver’s current and future medical needs.

Yet another way to support caregivers is to provide more and better subsidies for both residents in nursing homes and for hiring of helpers.

Such support measures will help to a large extent to strengthen filial piety and family bonding. Moreover, government needs to rally around our ageing population and those with special needs

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Monday, September 10, 2018


Outstanding services, care & compassion from Mount Calvary Bereavement Services, St Theresa’s Nursing Home and St Stephen’s Church

 

Reference the above matter.

 

Ii was not easy for my siblings and I – together with the children my late mother looked after (Michelle Koh& Stephanie Choo) trying to cope with the loss of my wife Doris, my sister, Veronica and now my mother, Mrs. Pearl Fernando within a space of 4 years. 

 

Grief is never easy to cope with, it will come and go.

 

Mount Calvary Bereavement Services

 

When a loved one passes on. there are so many things to organise. But through the wonderful support and meticulous planning of Jeffrey Herman Vierra and his team at Mount Calvary Bereavement Services, my siblings and I were able to have a good night’s sleep knowing that my late mom was in good hands.

 

Mount Calvary, not only provided top-notch professional services, but every single staff member displayed compassion and much respect for all our relatives and friends who turned up at the wake.

 

This is the third time that I have secured the services of Mount Calvary, confident that they would always do an excellent job. Certainly, I would recommend them to anyone who needs funeral services.

 

St Theresa’s Home

 

St Theresa’s Home also gave wonderful support to my mother during her 4 years or so stay at this home. Her administrator Victor Seng has so much love for the residents and even though my mom had to struggle with several chronic conditions that include Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia which was a big challenge to the healthcare workers there, not once did they grumble or show disrespect and impatience with my mother.

 

All these kindness and compassion by the nursing team are probably inherited by Victor Seng who has always guided the nurses to show love, understanding and unflagging support to all the residents there.

 

The nurses adored my mother so it was no surprise that they took the trouble to pay their last respects to my mother at the wake on Thursday 6th September.  I was deeply touched.

 

With a rapid ageing population coming on-stream, Singapore could well do with the compassion of these kind of nurses.  They come from poor countries like the Philippines, Myanmar and India, but they are so rich in their hearts.

 

So, Victor, Seng, my family and I wish to record our deepest gratitude to you and your team. On several occasion, Victor you went the extra mile to render that ‘WOW’ service! 

 

St Stephens Church

 

In closing, it’s only fitting that we record our fondest gratitude to Rev Father Gerard Weerakoon, Parish Priest of St Stephen for conducting the funeral masses at the church and at Mandai crematorium with so much of God’s love. We were all uplifted by the manner in which Fr Gerard gave spiritual guidance, advice and professionalism during the 3 days that we were in prayer at his church.

 

I also would like to record my deepest appreciation to Faith, Fr Gerard’s secretary who rendered support, guidance and care to ensure that everything went smoothly.

 

God bless each and every one of you.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

& the Fernando Family

 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Installation of night light in homes and sensor lights in organisations in support of the elderly : An open proposal to Lawrence Wong, MND Minister & Masagos, NEA Minister



Certain health issues can increase the risk of falling and these include leg weakness, mobility problems, and balance issues. These are very common problems which many of our seniors face as age catches up on them.

With the steep increase in water and electricity bills, homes and organisations now need to cut down on water and electricity consumptions. 

While the HDB has taken positive steps to improve the safety features in housing estates to prevent the elderly from injury by installing hand bar grips and non-slip tiles in toilets, there is also a dire need to ensure that seniors do not grope in the dark while visiting the toilet at night.

 In other places when lights are not turned on at night or the early hours of the morning, such as in churches, there is a high risk of seniors with mobility problems falling down. We must take concreate measures to prevent this from happening.

In ‘light’ of this, I propose that a night light be installed at bedrooms so that the moment seniors wake up at night to go to the toilet or kitchen, he/she will not fall as visibility is clear.  A night light  switched on does not consume much electricity even if the light is on most part of the night.

In malls or places where there are 24-hour services, such as hotels or eating houses, installing such sensors saves the owners a bundle on electricity bills

In other places such as in columbariums at churches, a sensor light should be installed so that relatives who go there to pray will not fall down as they grope in the dark.

I fell down twice in my church around 6.15am while praying to my late wife and sister at the columbarium. Here the lights are only turned on at 6.30am.

The light comes on the moment someone enters and this way, electricity bills will not rise.  Praying is crucial for all who practice a faith, but more so for those who have lost their loves ones and trying to cope with grief.  No one should have to pray in the dark.


Automated lighting that turns on only when someone enters the room is definitely cost saving.

 
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Opinion piece: It’s a crying shame that our lonely seniors are resorting to suicide



An open proposal to the Singapore Government

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."
-Christopher Reeve -

It is most disturbing to read the report of many of our senior citizens who are ending their lives through suicide due to lack of support (“Number of suicides among senior hits record high”, The Straits Times, Monday, July 30, 2018).

 

Besides forming a task force to tackle depression and suicides which I proposed on my blog and in the media much earlier, every citizen must take it upon themselves to feel for the elderly lonely. After all, our elderly seniors were the ones who contributed to the economic growth of Singapore during their younger days. Many people, myself included, find it hard to believe that Singapore is a first world country that has third world practices.

 

To abandon the elderly lonely who include those who have lost their loved ones is just not right and is not in keeping with the government’s on-going effort to building a gracious, caring and inclusive society.

 

Give love, until it hurts: Let’s take lessons from Mother Teresa

 

I have always admired Mother Teresa for the love and care she had given to the less fortunate in society and I am deeply influenced by her. To better understand the true meaning of providing support and love to our lonely seniors, let us take lessons from the late Mother Teresa.

 

In one episode of her charity work, Mother Teresa went to visit a Hindu mother of 8 children, all of whom who had gone without food for several days. She brought them a small bag of rice. As soon as the mother of 8 children received the rice, she took half the packet of rice and ran out of the house. Mother Teresa was puzzled. When the lady return home, Mother Teresa asked her where she had gone to with half the packet of rice.

 

The lady smiled and replied that she gave the rice to a Muslim family, her neighbor, who like her, had gone without food for days.  Clearly, this Hindu lady knows how to give love – until it hurts.

 

Recently, I came across some painful postings by a young pretty Filipino girl on Facebook, a friend of mine, just 21 years old, but often depressed. She ended up living in a park as her home has been taken away as she could not pay the 2 months’ rent. I comforted her and advised her to value life and to go to church and pray every day – for prayer works wonders.  Then I sent her some groceries from the few books I sold. She was so uplifted, knowing that someone in Singapore cares for her well-being.

 

It is extremely painful to go without food for days, feel abandoned and to come to the reality of being all alone and uncared for in this world. I then searched the Facebook to find her Mayor in Albay, Philippines, and advised her to write to him for assistance. I continue to keep in touch with her, giving guidance and showing care for her.

 

Never underestimate the undying, unconditional love from God

 

I lit a blessed candle for her that night and asked Jesus to help her. The next day, a friend she met at the park brought her to her home to stay, and now at least she will have a roof over her head and probably a decent meal.

  

Staying ‘alive’ to the realities of suicidal depression and other mental disorders

 


 

I had proposed a detailed report on how we can tackle suicides and depression, giving practical and workable solutions, but it appears – real or imagined, that my proposal has fallen on deaf ears. What a sad state of affairs!

 

A monthly allowance to help our seniors cope with living expenses

 

Many of our seniors who are drawn to suicide don’t have money for their daily expenses. Where feasible, I urge the government to provide a monthly allowance of anything between $200 to $300 to our seniors who live all alone.

 

Recreation is also so important for the lonely elderly to find comfort, Surely, some outings by church groups or government agencies can be organized to provide some measure of support.   When my wife was alive, we were fortunate to benefit from such outings that were organized by the Saint Vincent De Paul Society of my church. But now that Doris has died, everything has died with her and I am left all alone to fend for myself.
 

Stay connected through WIFI

 

Often social media can be a useful platform for the lonely elderly to keep in touch with friends and even find new ones. Given the push by the Singapore Government to build a smart nation, shouldn’t WIFI be installed in HDB estates, especially for those who live in flats all alone?

 

Don’t play God by legalising euthanasia, but value life, promote love, support and understanding

 

The media, because of its huge outreach must promote love, understanding and support, bringing people from all races, ages and religions together as one big family. It should in no way cause divisions in society and give undue attention to those who have absolutely no value for life. Only cowards will want to support euthanasia to get rid of seniors who lose the will to live.

 

I was deeply troubled that a regular forum writer wrote about giving euthanasia options to lonely seniors who struggle with sickness and find it difficult to secure support. Who is he to play God? Being a born Catholic, I am deeply offended by his letter which has been published. If suicide is a crime, then why is euthanasia being suggested?  Let us not be a party to abetting a crime.

 

No religion, to the best of my knowledge will support killing oneself.

 

During my 31-year-old career in broadcasting, our journalists were so well trained and such letters or any others causing division or gossip in society would never be published.

 

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew would come down hard on news editors who paint Singapore or her citizens in bad light.

 

So, let’s put a grinding halt to gutter journalism – period.  Minister Iswaran, the ball is in your court.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Opinion Piece: Artistes should set aside differences, embrace kindness and work towards reconciliation



It is somewhat disturbing to read of the spat between two popular TV actresses (“Pan Lingling's alleged comments on relationships of Hong Huifang's children led to their split” (July 25, 2018, The Straits Times).

Even more troubling now is that a former Ex-MediaCorp actress Julie Tan has joined in the fray – as reported in “Julie Tan hits back after Hong-Pan spat casts spotlight on love life” (The New Paper, July 25, 2018).

Relationships can be so tricky, and even the best of friends can fall out when hurtful words said on the spur of the moment causes anger, bitterness, jealousy, envy and resentment.  Spats can also take place in homes when relationships turn sour.  

Given that these two artistes have a large fan base, it does not augur well for both of them as well as for MediaCorp to vent out their dispute that has caught the attention of the media. Added to that, morale among their fellow artistes can take a beating. If these issues are not handled properly, the reputation of MediaCorp will suffer. We should not allow this to happen to our national broadcasting station.  It would help if the MediaCorp HR department counsels the celebrities involved so that others who feel upset about this spat will not jump on the bandwagon.

MediaCorp has done exceptionally well by showing kindness to the less fortunate in Singapore through their on-going fun-raising shows on TV, programmes that raises awareness of those with special needs and through their staff who do community work.  Such kindness must be ingrained in all their employees.

In all relationships, we need to embrace understanding, forgiveness, love and care for one another, as life is so very fragile. Just read the reports of people in Vietnam and Philippines who are struggling to cope with natural disasters, the collapse of a dam in Laos and the heatwave that has devastated the lives of thousands in Japan to fully understand what an uncertain world we now live in. 

Though these events are mind boggling, we have also seen that out of such human tragedy, it is the milk of human kindness that has united people together –  against the odds.

Many people and organisations will readily step forward to provide that much-needed assistance and give a glimmer of hope to those in chaos.  And on all accounts, it so important to practise the virtue of kindness.

If we want to build a better home here in Singapore – for both locals and foreigners who live here, then everyone of us, including the media, must take on that added responsibility of bringing people closer together and bonding them.  More so when we live in a fast-paced environment with so much uncertainties coming on-stream.

This brings to my mind, my number 1 choice song which is, “Try a little kindness”, sung by well-known country and western singer Glen Campbell.  It is one of my favourite songs because to me, the lyrics bear an important message, a forgotten virtue, often overlooked in this complicated world of increasing stress and strain, greed and selfishness.  The message is one of showing kindness to another. 

The Hollies smash hit, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”, is yet another meaningful song because it too touches on the struggles in life and the apparent need for people to help one another.

That said, I urge both Pan Lingling and Hong Huifang to set aside their differences, don’t hold anymore grudges, embrace kindness and then work towards reconciliation.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Support , compassion for Raymond & his causes

Through the wonderful support of Rev Father Colin Tan , Parish Priest of St Ignatius Church, I had the opportunity to raise much more awareness of mental llness, promote my novel "Loving A Schizophrenic" and market a book produced by CLUB HEAL, A PLACE IN THE SUN.
 
I was fortunate to raise some funds for my own special needs and medicare care through this promotion. The Parishioners at this church displayed compassion and kindness to me with one elderly lady taking the trou...ble to buy me lunch and a drink as she knew I was dead tired from selling the books the whole day.


Rev Fr Colin Tan went the extra mile and got his IT staff to put out a lovely slide on the monitor and both he and Rev Fr Jerome gave glowing testimonies of the love I had for my late wife to the church goers, even asking at the end of mass how my sales were doing. These are the kind of priests who makes me so proud to call myself a Catholic.


At the church, I met up with the humble and caring Member of Parliament (MP) Christopher De Souza who has bought some of my books. This MP told me that he loves reading my press letters to The Straits Times , Today Newsaper & The New Paper as well as my propdsals to the Government through my blog where from redaing my articles, he gets the chance to implement my ideas and suugestions to the community .


We need these kind of MPs
The MP just sent me an email:


Hi Raymond,
Thank you for sending on the photo. And thank you for your passion for the subject of assisting those with mental illness, and their companions.

With kind regards – and thanks,
Chris de Souza
*******************************
Next up, my talk on schizophrenia at the British Council this Friday.
Have a nice day:)
Sincerely,
Raymond Anthony Fernando