Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mr Lee had workers’ interests at heart: Raymond's letter to the press on the late Lee Kuan Yew

My letter on the above matter is published in the TODAY newspaper- Saturday 28th March 2015.

Like many people, I am saddened by the loss of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. He was a highly respected politician among world leaders, be it for his wisdom, foresight or knowledge of world events.

It is heartening that many Singaporeans, young and old, have taken the time to pay tribute to him.
He always had workers’ interests at heart, even the daily-rated road sweepers. When he observed that these workers were at risk of being hit by vehicles, he tasked the environment ministry to design luminous vests for them.

He was also a tough disciplinarian who did not like noise and was particular about cleanliness.
I remember the times he came by the television studios in the 1970s to broadcast his National Day speeches; all involved were kept on their toes, as he was very particular about efficiency.

For 46 days, he was in hospital trying to recover from pneumonia, and it must have been painful for his family to witness a loved one wither away and feel helpless.

I offer my condolences and hope that in time, they will be able to cope with the grief.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew: Raymond's letter to the press -Undying love for wife an inspiration

Letter to The Straits Times: Undying love for wife an inspiration

My letter on the above subject was published in The Straits Times on Wednesday 25th March 2015.

The flurry of tributes coming from Singaporeans and leaders all over the world shows beyond a shadow of doubt that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a much loved politician and a dynamic leader who gave his life for Singapore.

Singapore’s first Prime Minister always stressed the importance of education and I still fondly remember the time when he visited my former school, St Andrews, in the 1960s, and inspired the students and teachers to give their very best.

Mr Lee often ruled with an iron fist, but he always used a velvet glove to reflect his caring nature towards his people and his family.

He transformed Singapore from a small trading island to a First World nation and brought on the economical miracle that has put this country on the world map and given all of us here a far better life.  It was never an easy task as Mr Lee and his former Cabinet ministers had to fight the communists with true grit.

But undoubtedly, one of the virtues I have always admired about him was his dedication and commitment to his wife, the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo whom he loved so deeply – in good times and bad, taking the cue from the marriage vow which speaks of loving one’s spouse in sickness and in health, for better or worse.

Couples and those in relationships should learn from Mr Lee and emulate his values.

Raymond Anthony Fernando




Monday, March 23, 2015

Bridget Tan, season campaigner for migrant workers suffers stroke; money needed for her expensive treatment

Bridget Tan, season campaigner for migrant workers suffers stroke; money needed for her expensive treatment

Raymond's letter to The New Paper: CAMPAIGNER NEEDS MEDICAL AID

Workers can contribute funds, too

My letter on the above subject is published in The New Paper today, Monday 23rd March 2015.

Life can be so unpredictable. You may feel like you are in the pink of health one day and be in a wheelchair the next.
Ms Bridget Tan, 66, the veteran campaigner for migrant workers rights is struggling to cope now, as reported in “Time we return the favour” (The New Paper, Mar 18).
With her never-say-die attitude, she has given many foreign workers a ray of hope. She has been helping them for more than a decade, and even now, she is determined to continue working for them.  Now that’s true grit!
Given that she has done so much for these migrant workers, I hope that some of them can repay her by doing their bit to pay for her expensive stroke treatment.
Migrant workers do not earn much, but even if they set aside a dollar a month, a few thousand of them can raise the much-needed funds.



Monday, March 16, 2015

"MOM can help assist the elderly employers with supporting agencies " by Raymond Anthony Ferrnando

“It is not often that employers treat their maids like family, so we need to give this employer a second chance. Instead of a penalty, the Ministry of Manpower could counsel him and connect him with the relevant agencies to ensure that the surrounding areas are mosquito-free.

- Raymond Anthony Fernando ­-

And the full text of my submission to this newspaper appears here on my blog.   It would help if the Government agencies are proactive instead of being reactive when dealing with the residents, especially the elderly and those who are marginalised.  

Separately, it is interesting to read the message of his holiness Pope Francis in this week’s Catholic News about those who abandon the elderly.  Pope Francis says that "Abandoning the elderly is a sin.  We have a moral duty to take care of our parents as they gave us life.”

 Sadly, there are many who neglect the care of their parents when they are old and sickly. I hope the Singapore Government will take to task those who neglect the care of their parents who gave life to them.

MOM can help assist the elderly employers with supporting agencies

Given that there are concerns that maids are being asked to carry out tasks outside their job scope, I am not at all surprised that there has been an uproar over the maid being told to clean the canal as reported in “Ministry probe on employer for allegedly ordering maid to clean canal (The New Paper, March 12).

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has done the right thing by investigating the complaint as the safety of all foreign domestic workers who come to work here must be number 1 priority.  

The maid in question has said that she cleaned the canal because she wanted to do it as her employer was too old and she was concerned that mosquitoes could breed if the drains were clogged up with stagnant water.  She has also made it abundantly clear that her elderly employer has always treated her well, bringing her to eat at restaurants and given her the freedom to enjoy the simple luxuries of life, like watching television. 

It is not often that employers treat their maids like their own family, so we need to give second chances to this employer who may have unknowingly overstepped his boundaries.  Instead of penalising the employer, MOM could counsel him and then go the extra mile by linking up the employer up with the National Environment Agency, Housing Development Board and the town council to ensure that the surrounding areas are mosquito free.

A caring and supportive community can make life better for all who live here, bearing in mind what the late Mother Teresa once said:  “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”







Saturday, March 14, 2015

Letter to The Straits Times’ ST Life: Not easy to play Lee Kuan Yew

My letter to The Straits Times’ Life! Section on the above matter is published today, Saturday 14th March 2015.

It is heartening to find out in The Two Faces of LKY … (Life! March 7) that a movie and a play are being produced on former Prime Minister Lee Juan Yew.

Like Lim Kay Tong, Adrian Pang, who will play Mr Lee in a musical, is a great actor. I have watched several of his TV shows, including Red Thread and enjoyed his performances.  

Playing Lee Kuan Yew is no easy task, but I have every confidence that Pang’s acting skills and good diction will make the musical a success story.

For sure, people will ask: Who gave a better performance? Lim Kay Tong or Adrian Pang? 

In a competitive entertainment industry, comparisons are inevitable, but this would motivate both actors to give their best and thus do justice to the greatest politician of our time.  In the end, the audience can only benefit.


Raymond Anthony Fernando 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to The New Paper: Educate foreigners on mental health issues

My letter to the press (The New Paper) on the above subject appears today, Wednesday 11th March 2015. Do check it out!

It was heartrendering to read of how a 25-year-old Vietnamese woman lost her life because she heard voices in her head, as reported in “Car slams into her as she was falling” (The New Paper, Mar 5).

People may hear voices in their head if they suffer from conditions such as psychosis, schizophrenia or depression.  

But sadly, in many cases, when there is ignorance of mental illness and when proper treatment is not sought, it can lead to dire consequences, as in the case of Ms Ho Chieu. 

Although public education on mental health issues has helped patients to seek professional treatment, nurses at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) tell me that there are still family members who take their stricken loved ones to mediums or bomohs instead of to a hospital for treatment.

With many foreigners coming to work, study or even become spouses here, it is imperative that they too learn about mental health issues. 

I would suggest that agencies and associations involved with them tie-up with our mental health providers to include mental health education as part of their learning journey. 

With the recent budget announcement of $500 being given for continuous learning, some of those who have foreigners in their schools and companies should also make use of it to learn about mental health issues from the professionals and volunteers at IMH.

Let us make every effort to help our foreigners who move here to secure a good future in Singapore.




Sunday, March 8, 2015

Letter to The Sunday Times: SMRT staff’s action an example for all

My letter to The Sunday Times on the above matter is published today – Sunday 8th March 2015.

While most operations and businesses would have been scaled down during the Chinese New Year celebrations, leaving a shortage of workers, the SMRT staff who helped retrieve the $50 that Mr Nishal John Vethanayagam had dropped while on the escalator, most certainly deserves worthy praise (“Just a $50 note, but SMRT staff’s effort priceless”; Feb 22).

If we want to truly grow as a society, all of us need to journey together, to support and encourage one another, to share with each other and be accountable to one another.

As an enlightened nation that is willing to bring in foreigners to work here and contribute to the growth of our economy, the exceptional kindness shown by the SMRT staff will not only enhance the image of the train operator, but will also help put Singapore on the world map as a caring society.

Such virtues can facilitate the acceptance of foreigners working and living here. I hope that Mr Vethanayagam’s appreciative post on Facebook will help to inspire others to adopt kindness as part of everyday living, so that Singapore will become the best city to work, live and play in.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



Friday, March 6, 2015

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: Keep Pedestrian Night alive

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matters is published today, Friday 6th March 2015.

I share the sentiments about keeping Orchard Road alive in the commentary (“Let shoppers walk to keep Orchard Road humming”; yesterday).

With the retail industry facing stiff competition here, I can understand the concerns of some stores that are not securing high sales during Pedestrian Night.

Given that the event itself is popular, with an average of more than 50,000 people visiting Orchard Road on the first Saturday of the month, it would be a shame if the Pedestrian Night had to be called off due to poor business at most of the stores.

Therefore, it is important for the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to come up with fresh ideas that can help boost sales. STB can help to fund some of the suggested proposals that include:

– Setting up makeshift stalls at parts of the road where foot traffic is high. With friendly retail staff manning these booths, people attending Pedestrian Night can be persuaded to buy products

that are in the stores some distance away.

– Stores putting up one- to two-minute advertisements on giant TV monitor screens to promote their products.

– the master of ceremonies can make periodic announcements on goods and services available at all stores to help to increase sales.

Raymond Anthony Fernando