Friday, November 28, 2014

Raymond' letter to The Straits Times: Sterling service from cruise ship's foreign staff

My letter to The Straits Times on the above subject was published on Friday 28th November 2014.

Whenever there is a shortage of staff, service standards are likely to fall.  So I am not surprised that tourists are displeased with the service levels in our hotels and restaurants (“More tourists unhappy with hotels, restaurants”; Wednesday).

Generally, when customers have to wait longer than necessary for their meals, it is inevitable that they will become unhappy, bearing in mind that “a hungry man is an angry man”.

With the Singapore Tourism Board spending millions of dollars to attract tourists, it is crucial to ensure that the food and beverage industry is adequately staffed with employees who are trained to go the extra mile to please customers.

Although there are objections in some quarters to the hiring of foreigners, it would be helpful to learn from them a thing or two about customer service.

On my recent two-night trip on board the SuperStar Gemini, I observed how the foreign service staff – Filipinos, Indians, Vietnamese and Indians – took so much pride in their work. Their hospitality, friendliness and thoughtfulness, coupled with their willingness to go the extra mile, will no doubt entice customers to book holidays on this ship again.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Thursday, November 27, 2014

PUBLIC TRANSPORT FARE REVIEW : Companies profitable, so why raise fares? - Raymond writes to the press

My letter on the above subject is published today, Thursday 27th November 2014 in The New Paper on page 18.

With a fare review on the cards, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew has urged the Public Transport Council (PTC) to study if it is possible to insulate vulnerable groups such as senior citizens from fare increases or at least mitigate the impact on this group as reported in “Protect certain groups from hikes” (The New Paper, Nov 20).

Despite this assurance from the minister, the majority of our citizens are going to finding it hard to cope with non-stop price increases.

With the transport operators reaping in profits year in and year out, why is there the need to increase fares every year? 

What about those who are without jobs and have families to feed?

What about medical costs and food prices that are rising?

Last year, despite a hue and cry from Singaporeans, the PTC went ahead and increased the fares.

The government says it values feedback, but is it really listening? 

Raymond Anthony Fernando


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Raymond's letter to The New Paper: BUSES STOPPING FAR AWAY FROM KERB -Risk of elderly falling is higher

My letter to The New Paper on the above subject is published today, Thursday 20th November 2014 on page 17.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo has announced that the Government is studying ways to make transport facilities more elderly-friendly as reported in “Better public transport for elderly: Minister” (The New Paper, Nov 17).

With the Land Transport Authority (LTA) holding focus group discussions with the elderly, our seniors can look forward to improvements in transport facilities that include more sheltered walkways and added lifts to overheads bridges, as many in this group find it difficult to climb staircases due to mobility issues.

But the LTA must also advise the public transport operators to stop their buses closer to the kerbs at bus stops, as very often, they do so a fair distance from the kerbs. For the elderly, this poses a risk of them losing their balance and falling down.  Many of these seniors make use of quad sticks to help them move about and with the buses picking and letting passengers alight a fair distance from the kerb, chances are that accidents can take place more easily.

For a person with mobility issues, going up the bus or coming down when the bus stops far from the kerb is a real challenge.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Letter to The Straits Times: Why not let residents choose their mayors? - Raymond's suggestion

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter was published on Tuesday 18th November 2014.

It has always been the practice for the Prime Minister to appoint mayors in the five community development councils (CDCs) to serve the needs of residents.

Over the years, Ministers of State and elected People’s Action Party MPs have taken on the role of mayors in the five districts.

The CDCs are key agents in ensuring that help is delivered efficiently and promptly to needy Singaporeans.

Generally, most residents are more acquainted with their MPs than their mayors, as they are in touch with the former through Meet-The-People Sessions and community events.

Perhaps it is time to test out a bold idea.  
Just as citizens get to vote for their MPs through the ballot box, why not allow them to also select their mayors through the same process?  This will help to move Singapore towards being a more democratic society.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


Monday, November 10, 2014

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s press letter - to The New Paper: ON THE SIM LIM SQUARE SAGA

Letter to The New Paper:  ON THE SIM LIM SQUARE SAGA
Tourists need better protection  
My letter to The New Paper on the above subject is published today, Monday 10th November 2014.

It is outrageous that the Sim Lim Square retailer Mobile Air stooped so slow as to humiliate a Vietnamese tourist into going down on his knees and crying after being told  to pay an additional $1,500 for the warranty of an iPhone that he bought for $950 as reported in “Sim Lim’s nightmare” (The New Paper, Nov 5).  

Earlier the notorious infamous shopkeeper Jover Chew had, out of spite, refunded a Chinese national $1,010 in coins after she took her case to the Small Claims Tribunal.

I find it most disturbing that consumers, both from Singapore and overseas, have to put up with such horrendous treatment even as the Government is investing heavily in training for good customer service and attracting tourists to shop here.

The Consumers Association of Singapore has recognised that such unfair business practices exist, but it should do more by working closely with the Ministries of Trade and Industry and Law to stamp out such behaviour.    

It should be made easier for consumers to seek action against such recalcitrant retailers who are tarnishing the image of Singapore.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Raising awareness of mental illness, marriage and other social issues by Raymond -through Weekender

There are several articles which I have written to the newspaper– “Weekender” and it can be read here by clicking onto the links provided.

Long live advocacy!
Happy reading, folks.

(1) Dedicated caregiver to wife with schizophrenia shares his heart-wrenching journey

(2) Reach out to the mentally ill for an inclusive society

(3) So what if you are a graduate?

(4) Palliative care–not just for patients with cancer

(5)  Kindness of good Samaritan, Ms Noriza, can build a better society

(6)  Let’s understand mental illness from those who walk the journey

(7)  Hawker food prices increase: A CASE of high rentals

(8)  Take a leaf from those in a blissful inter-racial marriage

(9)  Consider giving writing grants to persons with disabilities and caregivers

(10)  Workers will be motivated when bosses care for their well-being


(11)  Have a variety of ordinary honourable Singaporeans cast in wax

More articles written by me….coming your way–real soon. Stay tunedJ
Raymond Anthony Fernando