Friday, September 7, 2012

The National Conversation- The Hard Truths

7th September 2012
Warren Fernandez

Straits Times Editor

Dear Warren,

I read your article last Sunday in which you touched on the National Conversation. You spoke of hard truths and civility. I agree with you, Warren, we need hard truths & tough questions to be answered. We don’t avoid looking into these matters. We need to save and reclaim lives. That’s the Singapore Heart which I would like to see! Education Minister Heng Swee Keat mentioned that he will even listen to voices of the silent.  That remains to be seen.

Do read up on today’s New Paper report (Friday 7th Sept 2012) on the rise in the number of suicide cases.

Like I mentioned in my earlier postings on my blog- mental illness and suicides are on the rise and it is becoming a BIG social problem. You’ll be surprised at the number of people who are struggling with mental illnesses and how their family members are crying out for help. I’ve been helping so many of them on my Facebook, private emails and in person, and I don’t have to blow my trumpet on doing this. Cos’ it’s the only decent thing to do.
Last month, when I was selling my wife's novel at a Catholic Church, a young mother who bought the book revealed to me that her 20-year-old son was treated at IMH for schizophrenia. I spoke to the teenager , he looked very frightened. I encouraged him to take his medications. Next to him was his cute-3-year-old sister. I told the girl to love her brother and care for him. She smiled and said ok, Uncle Raymond. But if the brother's mental illness is not propely managed, I'm pretty sure that the little girl will have psychlogical problems later in her life.
I had submitted some queries on mental health issues to your ST for the National Conversation- questions for the PM to answer. And as expected, ST refused to publish it on the website.  I have not seen my questions posted on your website.

Here’s the questions I posted to PM:

Why is this so, Warren? It is an irony that the ST carries out reports on suicides such as the Bedok Reserviour, hoarding problems, depression and other mental health problems, but chooses not to publish my queries to the Prime Minister on mental health problems which is, by no exaggeration becoming serious in Singapore. We cannot sweep these problems under carpet, Warren, we need to address it and find solutions. It is so wrong to shun these issues. The press must be neutral. That’s being civil, that’s getting to the hard truths.

So let us be sincere in this whole National Conversation exercise, otherwise, as many Singaporeans already believe, it’s another PR exercise by the PAP.

Thank you and I’d like to hear from you, Warren.  Incidentally, one of the ways to be civil is to communicate, and communicate effectively.


Raymond Anthony Fernando



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