Saturday, February 14, 2015

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times’ ST Life: Local shows help to reinforce family values

My letter to The Straits Times Life Section on the above matter is published today – Saturday 14th February 2015

I refer to the article In Love Again Life! Feb 12).

My late wife and I enjoyed watching Channel 5 drama Growing up in the 1990s as the series brought back nostalgic memories of the early years in Singapore.

The television show undoubtedly revived the kampung spirit that was very much alive in the 60s.

Actors Lim Kay Tong and Wee Soon Hui as husband and wife and as parents to their four children, gave viewers accurate portrayals of what it was like to hold a family together. Their acting skills was superb. 

The rebellious character of their eldest son Gary, played by Andrew Seow was, for me, a crowd puller as his portrayal was very down to earth. 

The attractive Irin Gan who played Vicky also gave a sterling performance as the wilful eldest daughter.  

I also relate well to the colourful clothes, the music and the kampong life featured in the show.

With divorce rates on the rise, shows like Growing up and the telemovie Sunset will help to reinforce marriage vows and promote family bonding and filial piety. 

Such virtues are needed as our population ages rapidly and when our elderly folk may be isolated and left to fend for themselves. 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: No need to create Einsteins overnight

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today – Tuesday 10th February 2015.

Given the highly competitive and stressful environment we are in, I am not surprised that many of our schoolgoing children are having sleep problems (“Many parents ‘not alert to children’s lack of sleep’”; last Friday).

There is a real danger that sleep problems, if left unchecked, can escalate into insomnia at a later stage.  Both parents and the Education Ministry must be mindful of this.

But, with many parents having to work long hours to provide for themselves and their children amid rising cost, there is likely to be little or no supervision at home. Children at the primary levels, who are alone at home and bored, are also vulnerable to the dangers of technology that include gaming addiction.

While I understand that competition is keen, too much pressure should not be exerted on our young children.

If we want to create Einsteins overnight, there will be a heavy price to pay. Being No. 1 all the time is not the best way to go. As it is, there are many young children and youth who are grappling with mental health issues at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), and if this increases, it will eat up more resources in this hospital.

With stiff competition coming on-stream and the high standards of education, parents have little or no choice but to send their children for remedial classes and tuition. But at the end of the day, parents must also not be over anxious, as this will put undue pressure on the children.

To better manage stress-related and addiction issues, all schools should invite professionals from the IMH to give talks on these growing problems.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Let's remember Rita Chao: Play a go-go queen’s songs, shows as tribute (Raymond's letter gets to the press)

Raymond's letter to ST Life! of the Straits Times -published today, Saturday 7th Feb 2015.
Having grown up listening to the music of local pop queen Rita Chao in the 1960s, I was sad to hear that he died in July last year (A Go-Go Queen Dies Of Colon Cancer, Life! Feb 3).

Chao, who appeared in several Chinese and English variety shows on national television in the early years had a large following with her unique singing.  She popularised the a-go-go dance and got teenagers swinging to her music at clubs during tea dances. 

 I clearly remember Chao teaming up with our top local band, the Quests to belt out some really bouncing numbers that got many putting on their dancing shoes.

Chao’s music needs to live on in our hearts and as a fitting tribute to her, I hope some of her television shows can be aired and her songs can be played on radio stations.


Raymond Anthony Fernando

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Letter to The Straits Times: Rope in Rope in grassroots leaders to educate on cleanliness

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today – Wednesday 4th February 2015.

In his letter (“Why turn beautiful city into garbage dump?; last Saturday), Mr Eugene Wong rightly pointed out that many people would not want to leave trash or leftovers in their own homes.

Singapore has a reputation of being a clean and green city, but this can so easily be wiped out overnight if we do not make every effort to keep our environment in a tidy state.

If everyone adopts an attitude that “if it is not my business, I do not need to know or do not need to care”, then our garden city will be a thing of the past and the tourist dollar will be badly affected.  When this happens, our economy will take a beating, and jobs will evaporate.

Our natural inclination when negative situations come on-stream is to release our inner hulk and bash. Undoubtedly, negative reactions will make the circumstances worse and we will be filled with disappointment and anger.

Rather than escalate a negative situation, we can always come up with ideas and suggestions to turn it into a positive one. To this end, I suggest that the People’s Association solicit the help of our grassroots leaders to work with the organisers during large-scale outdoors events.

These grassroots leaders, who are the eyes and ears of the Government and who play an important role in the community, can educate the public on the importance of keeping our city clean.

Announcements advising people to tidy up the place before, during and after the event can help eradicate garbage dumping.

Let us all do our part as active citizens to make Singapore the best home to live, work and play in.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Priests, NCCs and Catholic ministries need to reach out to vulnerable Catholics: An open letter to Archbishop William Goh

1st Feb 2015

Your Grace Archbishop William Goh,

I am in full support of Andrew Tan’s suggestion to transfer our priests every five years (“Rotate priests regularly”: The Catholic News January 25, 2015). 

By rotating priests to decrement churches, it helps them to get to know more Catholics with the community and helps to build a better bond with the 300,000 Catholics here.

There are many needy Catholics and the priests and their various ministries within each church must be accessible, although regrettably this is not always the case. Generally most of our priests are kind and compassionate, but there are a handful who adopt a ‘talk-down attitude’ as opposed to a “talk-to attitude”.

His Holiness, Pope Francis in his message for the 2015 World Day of the Sick has urged people to demonstrate compassion that does not judge those who suffer from serious illness. His Holiness invited people to see the world and those who are ill or in need of care with, what he calls – “the wisdom of the heart”, which is pure, peaceable, gentle , open to reason, merciful, certain and sincere.   I am uplifted to know that Catholics have a leader who is full of compassion.

With a fast ageing population coming on-stream here in Singapore, it is prudent to heed the advice of Pope Francis.  Are all churches and priests adhering to the advice of His Holiness?

I was delighted when the Parish Mission was introduced to Christ The King Church last year.

The objectives of the Parish Mission are:

● To renew the faith in our Catholic community

● To create a sense of belonging in our parish

● To strengthen our Neighbourhood Christian Communities (NCCSs)

During the sharing of the Parish Mission, the Redemptorists priests stressed the importance of the NCCs reaching out to help the needy.  But sadly, with my wife’s passing, all forms of support measures died with her.

Now that the Parish Mission has made it way to Church of The Holy Spirit, parishioners attending mass every weekend are asked to recite the Parish Mission statement. 

When I came down with viral fever in early January and was out of commission for 3 solid weeks, I had to struggle to get my meals because I was feeling very giddy and weak and could not get help with cleaning my flat. You, Archbishop Goh are aware of this and although you have directed the Catholic Welfare Services to assist, they are ‘dragging their feet’ in providing me with the much-needed support. CLARITY, a mental health VWO did not step forward to help.  This was the very VWO which I advocated for.  

In the end, it was a Christian centre– from a non-Catholic organization Bethesda C.A. R. E and three friends on my facebook – also non-Catholics who empathised with plight and stepped forward with cleaning services and brought me meals.  They know that with the untimely death of my wife, self-care is so important – more so when I am trying for 10 months to cope with grief.
So let us not have a big song and dance over the Parish Mission when the objectives are not being met.  It is not right to turn your back on anyone who needs support.

The NCCs are not there just to organise recreational activities and outings, but they, in collaboration with the priests, must improve on its outreach to our marginalised Catholics. More so when we have a fast ageing population coming on-stream.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Singapore 560601

Depression: Raymond's letter to The Sunday Times: Early treatment offers best results

My letter to The Sunday Times on the above subject is published today – Sunday 1st February 2015.
With greater public awareness of mental health issues, more young people are coming forward for early treatment of their conditions (“More young people seek help for depression”; last Sunday).

Depression can also hit elderly people who are isolated or seriously ill, and who lack support.
Although depression is the easiest of all mental disorders to treat, most young sufferers do not seek treatment because they fear losing their jobs if their bosses find out about their condition.

It is important to seek treatment early because, in some instances, there could be more underlying serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia.  This was the case with my late wife, who had schizophrenia but whose early diagnosis revealed she was suffering from only depression.

The Institute of Mental Health has a good team of clinicians who can help suffers manage depression. If sufferers are reluctant to seek treatment because of the stigma, they can turn to a number of polyclinics whose doctors are trained in basic mental health care.

The environment, both at the workplace and at home, plays an important role in helping people cope with the onslaught of depression. Let us all do our part to help them. 
Raymond Anthony Fernando
 Footnote: I first wrote about the dangers of depression as far back as 2004 and how it is going to affect many people worldwide, but how many people took me seriously. The Singapore Govt. must value feedback from its citizens, especially those who have a life experience and are willingly to share it. If we don't address this issue quickly, our economy will suffer.