Friday, May 29, 2015

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY Newspaper: Politicians must reach out to struggling nations

My letter to the press on the above matter gets publish today, Friday 29th May 2015.
It is a sad state of affairs that few nations want to give hope to the Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees, who will die of hunger and disease at sea if help is not rendered quickly.

Over the years, many events have changed the lives of people across the globe: The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the Sept 11 attacks, the tsunami in Asia and other natural disasters such as Typhoon Hagupit, which struck the Philippines last year.

The most recent tragedy was the Nepal earthquake, though it was uplifting to the human spirit that several countries, including Singapore, rallied around the Nepalese.

Now, another blow has hit the Philippines: A heatwave that has killed two people as temperatures soared past 40°C.

With water rationing likely to come, I fear life is going to get tougher for the Filipinos.

During my trip to the Philippines in March, three street children — a girl around 10 years old and her two younger brothers — approached me for food.

The girl said they had not eaten for days. I gave her some money and hugged her. Teary-eyed, she asked me where I was from and for my name.

The world needs kindness, and one man I take my hat off to is Singaporean Thomas Wee, who set up a soup kitchen and built an orphanage in a rural Philippine village.

Likewise, politicians must not only look after their citizens’ welfare but also reach out to countries grappling with poverty and natural disasters, as all of us live on one earth and share a common destiny.

It is heartening that the Singapore Government has offered cash to countries in the region that have been aiding the Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees (“ASEAN urges Myanmar to end crisis quickly”; May 25).

To take it a step further, our leaders should urge rich nations during international summits to do their part to make this a better world.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: Stop property flier litter at flats

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today, Monday 25th May 2015.

Property agents are littering the homes and letter boxes of residents in the Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 precinct, currently undergoing a Home Improvement Programme, with flyers practically every day.

Part-timers hired by property agents are using sticks to shove the flyers into the mail boxes. When this fails, they would go up to the flats and stick it on the gates or under the gaps in the doors. When the resident leaves his door open, the flyers get thrown into his home.

Many of the flyers end up as litter – as littering is an offence, aren’t property agents and those they hire committing an offence?

The National Environment Agency and the Housing Board need to take steps to put a stop to this practice.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



Monday, May 11, 2015

Raymond's letter to The New Paper: TODDLER LEFT HOME ALONE -‘Heavy handed’ to punish parents -

My letter on the above subjects gets published in The New Paper today, Monday 11th May 2015.

Reader Eunice Li Dan Yue has suggested that going after  parents who leave their children unattended (“Prosecute parents who leave kids home alone”; The New Paper on Tuesday, May 5).

This is a heavy handed approach which will only discourage child bearing. 

Understanding the differing needs of families in Singapore today is essential for the development of family policies and services that adequately support families in their childrearing tasks.

Unlike the 60s and 70s when looking out for one another just came naturally, when the kampung spirit was really alive, the sense of good neighbourliness is clearly lacking today.

In those days, sharing a bowl of rice and sambal with those who could not afford a meal was the norm.   

Sadly today, many neighbours do not engage in small talk and adopt an attitude that “if it is not my business, I do not need to know.”

The parents of the toddler who was saved by the two construction workers have learnt a painful lesson, so let us not take them to task and cause further distress to them. 


Bottom line: We have got to learn to stop punishing people to this extent if we want to become a truly gracious, caring and inclusive society – more so when the government often assures its citizens that no one will be left behind. 

Policies that provide a slew of measures to help young parents to raise their children are a far better option in encouraging procreation. 

We must understand that some parents could be facing financial problems and that placing their  child in a childcare centre or hiring a maid would be too expense for them.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Making a mixed marriage work: Raymond's letter to The Straits Times’ Life Section

My letter on the above subject was published in the Life section of The Straits Times today, Saturday 9th May 2015.

Being Eurasian and married to my Chinese wife for 40 years, I relate very well to the challenges which many of the couples featured in Mixed and Match (Sunday Life!, May 3) .   

Mixed marriages give couples a golden opportunity to learn about each other’s culture, language and religion.

Being a Teochew Peranakan, my wife and her family taught me the rich culture and the fine cuisine the Peranakans are famous for.   

In turn, my mother, a Catholic Eurasian shared her Christian faith and beliefs to my wife.  

Together we build a strong and lasting bond that has kept our marriage intact for four decades.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


Monday, May 4, 2015

Feedback on Home Improvement Programme (HIP) in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5: Residents complain of shoddy workmanship that has put them to great inconveniences

4th May 2015

Khaw Boon Wan

MND Minister

Cc: PM Lee Hsien Loong

MP Seng Han Tong

Dear Minister Khaw,

Feedback on Home Improvement Programme (HIP) in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5: Residents complain of shoddy workmanship that has put them to great inconveniences

Reference the above matter.

As you are aware the HIP is currently going on in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, and the MP for the area Seng Han Thong has managed to secure support from the residents to this programme.

MP Seng Han Thong and the contractor have given the assurance to the residents that the appointed contractors/workers will ensure that excessive noise, disruptions and inconveniences to residents will be minimized. But this written assurance has, regrettably, not been fulfilled which is causing great inconveniences to families in this estate.

My neighbour who resides in block 605 told me that his family and their neighbours went through a ‘nightmare’ when the HIP was carried out with debris thrown indiscriminately into the gulley which caused chokes and many other sloppy work that had the residents having to call the HDB 5 times before action was taken to clear the mess.

The HIP is scheduled to come to my block in about 2-3 months’ time and I do not want to be put to this kind of nightmare simply because there is little or no supervision to the HIP by the HDB and the town council.  The MP for the area must take a vested interest in the well being of his residents.

When residents give their full support to the HDB’s upgrading works, it is only proper that the Government does its part to ensure that the people are not put to undue stress and inconveniences.

I would appreciate it if the feedback that has been given to the HDB/Town Council is taken seriously and not ‘swept under the carpet’. And I look forward to a reply from you.

Thank you.


Raymond Anthony Fernando


Friday, May 1, 2015

Hoarding in Singapore: Read Raymond's Letter to ST: Take steps to tackle hoarding

My letter on the above matter is published in The Straits Times today, Friday 1st May 2015.

It is shocking that in a First World country like Singapore, there are hoarders who are not only putting their health and those around them at risk, but also causing serious social problems in our housing estates (“Pest-infested flat plagues neighbours”; yesterday).

Hoarding can impair social, occupational and other important areas of functioning. Left untreated, this disorder can lead to family strain and conflicts, isolation and loneliness. A hoarding disorder may be also be associated with distinct abnormalities of brain function and neuropsychological performance, distinct from those seen in people with obsessive compulsive disorder or other disorders.

Hoarders who are obsessed with collecting rubbish and keeping things which they refuse to part with for decades will refuse to allow anyone to enter their home, fearing that their things will be taken away. It is a sad state of affairs that a concerned citizen in Ms Nur’Ashkin Zainol had to resort to posting on social media a video of this hoarding problem to draw attention to this grave situation in Eunos Crescent.

At a time when the Singapore Tourism Board is spending millions of dollars in marketing Singapore as a great destination for travellers, such reports do not tie in with Singapore’s reputation of being a clean and green city.

Government agencies like the town councils, the National Environment Agency and the Housing and Board, and all grassroots leaders need to learn more about mental health issues that include hoarding disorders.  

They need to work closely with the professionals from the Institute of Mental Health to eradicate hoarding issues in the heartland estates, some of which may not be reported.

Raymond Anthony Fernando