Friday, October 31, 2014

Monkey business" Raymond Anthony Fernando writes to the press: Monkey nuisance at HDB blocks

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today, Friday 31st October 2014.

Several months ago, I raised the issue of monkeys causing havoc at my HDB block and the surrounding ones in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Just across my block is a small forest, from which the monkeys venture out to look for food in the wee hours of the morning and at night.

Sadly, nothing concrete has been done.  The NEA says it “can’t find and catch them”.

On Wednesday afternoon, a rather big monkey entered my flat through the front gate. I was using the computer in my room and got the shock of my life when I saw it.

I yelled at the monkey and it ran into the kitchen, jumped out the window and climbed up to the higher floors.

I do not want to come home to find a monkey under my bed, or have to look over my shoulder all the time.  Residents need to have peace of mind.

There are many elderly residents as well as a childcare centre in my block, and the monkeys could pose a threat to the old folk and young children.

While I understand that monkeys can be very elusive, there must be an all-out effort to stop this nuisance.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

P.S: I hope this problem can be resolved because the safety of the residents must be top priority. There must be better teamwork for all ministries. With the LTA now building the MRT lines near my place (Lentor Road), the noise generated could cause stress to the monkeys and they run out.  In addition,the forested area opposite my block has so many large trees and the monkeys can hide inside.  Right now for my safety, I have to close up all the windows and the front door, and with the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) being planned for year-end, it is going to be very unhealthy and stuffy. Which is not good for one's health. The MPs and the mayor must take a vested interest in the welfare of its residents.  Many a time it is not that we don't want to take care of our health , but it is the environment in itself that is unhealthy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Raymond's letter to The New Paper: BOY BEATEN ON MRT TRAIN

My letter on the above matter is published today, Monday 27th Oct 2014 in The New Paper, page 16.  
What happened on an MRT train in full view of many passengers was shocking, as reported in “Woman whacks boy with umbrella until it breaks” (The New Paper, Oct 24).

Attempts should have been made to stop her because children who are victims of verbal and physical abuse can suffer the psychological effects later in life. 

If the abuser is daring enough to beat the child in such a way in public, I cannot imagine what is happening at home.

I find it disturbing that the other passengers did not seem to have done much, other than record the episode on video. Couldn’t someone have at least pressed the emergency button in the train to alert the MRT staff?  

As rightly pointed out by SMRT’s vice-president Patrick Nathan, commuters must take social responsibility to offer assistance in such cases. 

As active citizens, taking care of each other should be part and parcel of our daily lives.

I hope the authorities will thoroughly investigate this incident, and send the woman for counselling.


Friday, October 24, 2014

A nation of ideas: Read Raymond A Fernando’s letter to The Straits Times: Get citizens to brainstorm ideas to improve the nation

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today- Friday 24th October 2014.

Last  Friday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong called on citizens to value integrity and deeds, and help find solutions to improve the country (“Aim to be ‘democracy of integrity and deeds’”; last Saturday).

I support his call.  Active citizens are those who identify problems and come up with ideas to improve the lives of those around them.

We have in place the PS21 framework, where public officers are incentivised to submit useful suggestions and proposals, either individually or in teams.

I propose that the Government expand this to include the whole nation, to tie in with Singapore’s 50th birthday.

Under this National Suggestion Scheme, ideas can be submitted at the constituency level, before being raised to the respective ministries for evaluation.

Good ideas with national reach can be evaluated by a high-level steering committee, with awards for outstanding contributors.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Raymond's letter to the Life Section of The Straits Times: Huang great as a devoted mother

My letter to The Straits Times’ Life Section on the above matter is published today, Saturday 18th October 2014.

With the growing importance of women taking on a bigger role in society, I am glad that three-time Best Actress Huang Biren is returning to Chinese TV dramas.

She will play a dedicated wife in the new MediaCorp drama series, 3 wishes (Huang returns to TV, Life , Oct 15).

As rightly pointed out by executive producer, Molby Low, “Women are usually the ones who hold the families together.”

Huang is indeed a devoted mother.

I have seen her taking good care of her children in the Catholic Church I worship.  When we face challenges in life, we are able to better identify with the situation, as was the case with Huang, who had to cope with surgery to remove a 10 cm cyst in one of her kidneys in April  last year.  

I have every confidence that the actress will be able to give a shining performance as the mother who, despite facing many challenges, remains dedicated to her family. 

It is a show that I am sure many of her die-hard fans will look forward to.


Raymond Anthony Fernando


Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: Staying employed helps seniors stay healthy

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today, Saturday 18th October 2014.

Most certainly, the move by the public service to rehire civil servants up to the age of 67 is a step in the right direction (“Public service takes lead in raising rehiring age to 67”; Oct 3).

With this bold change, workers who are gainfully employed will not lose key social support. 

It is vital for seniors to receive the support and encouragement of a network of colleagues and friends, in order to continue leading meaningful lives.

Interaction with others keeps them engaged and involved in life’s journey.  Sharing their human situation can help them better understand themselves and create meaningful relationships.

Moreover, when older workers have a steady job, they will be financially secure and be better able to socialise.  If they are not gainfully employed, chances are, loneliness will creep in and they may face health issues like depression.

Employers who are sceptical about hiring older workers because they fear incurring extra medical costs should realise that people who have a job will be able to stay healthy in body, mind and spirit.

I am also encouraged by the Government’s shift to allow non-degree holders, many of whom are older workers with vast work experience, to have the same career opportunities as degree holders. 

Undoubtedly, this move will allow diligent and hard-working non-degree holders who have the skills and experience to move up the corporate ladder.

Many of our senior workers may not possess degrees, but with their wealth of experience, they can be mentors to younger workers.  Such mentors ought to be given the opportunity to contribute to the economy and even move up the corporate ladder.

What is needed for increased productivity is for all workers – young and old – to have the right attitudes, commitment, dedication, skills and professionalism.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Monday, October 13, 2014

Raymond's letter to The New Paper: CARE-GIVING ARRANGEMENTS -Community help vital in mental health cases

My letter to The New Paper on the above matter is published today, Monday 13th October 2014.  

 I agree that while the authorities can watch parents with mental illness or a history of violent behaviour, those around them should also be involved, as reported in, “Community can help by being vigilant” (The New Paper, Oct 9).

Minister of Social and Family Development (MSF) Chan Chun Sing gave this reply in Parliament when MP Janil Putucheary raised the issue of care-giving arrangements for parents with mental illness.

I share the the Minister’s view that the community needs to play its part by being vigilant and alert the authorties when they come across children in vulnerable circumstances.

However, given the nagging social stigma that plagues the mentally ill, not everyone will step forward to help.  

Moreover, all those with mental illness may not know how to reach out for help as some of them may not have access to computers or the media and may have few friends or neighbours who would want to associate with them.  

To reach out to them, I propose that neighbourhood watch groups be formed, perhaps one for every two block of flats in our housing estates, with the grassroots leaders and the local MP providing support and advice. 

Monthly visits to the residents can help to build a rapport between the residents and government officials and at the same time reach out to vulnerable groups who may be in dire need of social support.

This will let us become a caring community for those who may be suffering in silence.





Sunday, October 12, 2014

Raymond A Fernando's letter to the press: Speaking of loss lessens the burden of grief

My letter to The Sunday Times on the above matter was published today-Sunday 12th October 2014.

It was both heart-rending and inspiring to read about how Mr Chow Yen Lu lost his son and is now helping others (“After the heartbreak of son’s suicide”; last Sunday).

Coping with a loved one struggling with mental illness, or losing a loved one through suicide or a sudden illness, can be a very painful experience.

Speaking openly about the loss makes the burden of grief easier to bear. To this end, I am encouraged that Mr Chow has been open about his late son’s depression, in an effort to destigmatise mental illness.

It is also commendable that he used this experience to help others, by setting up the Over The Rainbow foundation to promote mental health and wellness.

I have overcome depression and a suicide attempt, and have four decades of caregiving skills from looking after my late wife, who had schizophrenia.

I believe that when you have the skills, experience and knowledge, you should share them with others.  So I hope to offer my services to Mr Chow’s foundation as well as to Singapore Creations ETC, which seeks to help youth from different backgrounds find themselves through the performing arts.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Raymond's letter to ST Life: Lim Kay Tong right for LKY role

My letter to the Straits Times Life Section on the above matter was published on Staurday 11th October 2014.

I fully endorse Lim Kay Tong to play the role of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in the upcoming film 1965.

The veteran actor with his stature, stern look and superb acting skills is well positioned to draw out the unique non-nonsense personality of the politician who is respected by world leaders. 

The movie 1965 is timely as it will accord recognition to Mr Lee – the man who turned Singapore, a modest trading country into a vibrant and dynamic nation, and I have every confidence that Lim will rise to the occasion and give a sterling performance. 


Raymond Anthony Fernando   

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Greater support for carers of mentally ill can prevent tragedies- Raymond Anthony Fernando's letter to the press

My letter on the above matter is published in MediaCorp's TODAY newspaper .

I refer to the report “Mum who pushed son out of window gets 10 years’ jail” (Sept 25) and share the writer’s sentiments in the letter “Tragedy shows need for better coordination among agencies” (Sept 29).

Not adhering to medication that helps in managing mental illness can indeed lead to dire consequences.
The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) must collaborate more closely with the Caregivers Alliance Singapore and the Singapore Association of Mental Health to better support carers of the mentally ill.

To that end, I suggest carers of patients seeing doctors at the IMH be referred to either of these voluntary welfare organisations, so families can better manage their loved ones.

With monthly reports exchanged among these three organisations, I am confident such tragedies can be avoided. Also, forensic psychiatrists and social workers from the IMH should manage forensic patients in the community.

The treating psychiatrist in the forensic ward should continue to see his or her patients upon their release, as he/she would be well positioned to understand what they have gone through.

Finally, support from family, the community and the authorities can be crucial to sustain convicted patients along their journey towards rehabilitation.

Thus, I suggest that volunteers from the Roman Catholic Prison Ministry, which is doing a good job in helping prisoners to turn their lives around, step forward to help Rebecca Loh when she is in a more stable condition.