Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: Offer 50% percent SG 50 bonus to former civil servants

My letter to The Straits Times on the above subject is published today, Tuesday 23rd June 2015.

It is a thoughtful gesture of the part of the Government to give a one-off attractive bonus to all public sector officers (“Civil servants to get $500 one-off payment to celebrate SG50”; last Thursday).

This special bonus to celebrate 50 years of nation building will undoubtedly recognise the efforts of our hard-working civil servants who often work long hours. These workers are fortunate to be able to hold on to a job with a steady income and support themselves and their loves ones.

But SG50 must also recognise the many other Singaporeans, including former civil servants, who have also contributed to our vibrant economy and helped in nation building through the years. They must never become a forgotten lot, given that many have made significant contributions to public service.

Many of our former public sector officers do not have a job with a steady income, as securing jobs beyond above age 50 is not easy due to ageism. They have to cope with the rising cost of living and expensive medical care – especially for those who missed out on the Pioneer Generation package.  Some have the unenviable task of taking on caregiving tasks.

I appeal to the Government to offer a 50 per cent one-off SG bonus to our former public service officers who have served for 10 years or more in the public sector.  Those will disabilities should also be given something.

In offering recognition to Singaporeans – be it through cash rewards or medical benefits, let there be a fair distribution of support, for it would not be right to please one group and displease others.  When this happens, whether we like it or not, we become a divided society.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Monday, June 22, 2015

Verghese’s music should be sold in tribute: Raymond A Fernando’s letter to the press

My letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY Newspaper on the above personality is published today, Monday 22nd June 2015.

Having enjoyed the music of The Quests for decades, I was saddened by the death of its popular guitarist Reggie Verghese, who had to grapple with ill health over the past few years (“The Quests’ Reggie Verghese dies, aged 67”; June 18).

He reminded me of Hank Marvin, lead guitarist of The Shadows. To this day, I can listen to the The Quests over and over, and not get bored.

I recall the days of black-and-white television, when the group was on many local shows.

It was a pleasure to watch and listen to Verghese perform. He was a guitar maestro who, together with his band, took local music to a high level and influenced other performers to contribute to the music industry.

To cherish and remember the icon he was, our radio stations could accord a fitting tribute to Verghese by playing the band’s music. It would also help if record companies could reproduce and market the music of The Quests on CD, which many Singaporeans, young and old, would surely buy. In celebration and support of SG50, seniors could be offered a discount.

Many of  our local performers who can no longer secure contracts because of ageing issues may have difficulty paying for medical treatments. As part of efforts to recognise these musicians who brought glory to Singapore’s music scene, I propose that a fund be set up to help them with such expenses. A person should not be forgotten just because he or she is ill.







Friday, June 19, 2015

SEA Games: Letter to The Straits Times: Organising large events no easy task

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today, Friday 19th June 2015.

I fully empathise with the unhappiness expressed by many sports enthusiasts who purchased tickets to support the SEA Games closing ceremony, but were denied entry due to overcrowding (“Why were ticket-holders denied entry?” by Mr Adrian Ho Kok Wai and “Ticket-holders given the runaround, denied entry” by Ms Yan Liping; Forum Online, both published yesterday).

While Team Singapore has done us proud and given us the best performance so far, wining 84 gold, 73 silver and 102 bronze medals, the memorable event was marred by poor organisational skills. The public address system broke down and the oversale of tickets caused much displeasure among many Singaporeans.

Often front-liners are on the receiving end of frustrations when things go wrong. However, organising major events on a large scale is certainly no easy task. Even if one is highly academically qualified, if you are not equipped with a wealth of experience, you can easily fumble.

Therefore, it is imperative that experienced event planners or retired public service officers who have hands-on experience in organising events on a large scale are invited to sit on committees in charge of planning large-scale events.

There should be a detailed checklist and a contingency plan in place.  After the event is over, the main organising committee should conduct a post-mortem to address problems such that future events are handled better.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


Monday, June 15, 2015

MERS OUTBREAK : Have quarantine centre at Changi Airport - Raymond's letter to the press

My letter on the above subject is published today in The New Paper, Monday 15th June 2015.

I share Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s view that we must stay vigilant with the outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in South Korea as reported in “It can come and will come’ (The New Paper, June 12). 

Such life-threatening infectious diseases will hit the world from time to time.  That said, we   cannot live in fear all the time, or our lives will be badly disrupted and the economy will suffer. 

At the same time, we have to be vigilant.  Most travellers enter Singapore at Changi Airport and this is where potential infections have to be stopped.   Once infected people leave the airport, viruses can spread easily.

If a deadly infectious disease begins to spread among the general population, it can cause panic and we have to prevent that.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport should collaborate and build a quarantine centre at Changi Airport, where suspected carriers of viruses can be housed till their condition is confirmed and they are either moved to the relevant hospital, or, if they are cleared, allowed to leave.




Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Raymond's take on Sabah Earthquake: Letter to The Straits Times: Look out for those facing crises

My letter to The Straits Times on the above subject is published today, Tuesday 9th June 2015.

It must be traumatic for relatives whose loved ones have either died or are feared dead following the earthquake that struck Mount Kinabalu (“9 S’poreans feared dead in quake; Sunday).

We are living in a very uncertain world today, where natural disasters, terrorism, wars and deadly infectious diseases are claiming the lives of innocent adults and children.

Losing loved ones through such senseless tragedies will leave relatives feeling unsure, shaken and vulnerable.  Shock, anger, sudden depression and despair is the order of the day.  I know only too well this feeling of hopelessness, when I lost my wife through a sudden attack of pneumonia.

When we face a crisis, it helps tremendously when there is support from all quarters.  It is helpful when kind-hearted people walk alongside us during periods of uncertainly.  To this end, I commend the Singapore Government, which is doing its best to provide assistance to save and reclaim life.

The Ministry of Education is rallying behind families and asking for community support.  I was also touched by the people who took time off to go to the airport to provide that much-needed emotional support.

Let us all live a life with no regrets by always looking out for out for one another, reviving the kampung spirit and neighbourliness.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Monday, June 8, 2015

Raymond's Letter to The New Paper: CURRY PUFF ‘FACTORY’ - NEA did the right thing

My letter to The New Paper on the above issue is published today, Monday 8th June 2015.

When I first read about the plight about the Indonesian woman who had to go to jail for operating an unlicensed business in a two-room rental flat (“She had a curry puff ‘factory’ The New Paper, June 1), I was rather upset with the authorities for coming down so hard on someone who was trying to make a living to support her two young children.

 But after reading about the investigations by the National Environment Agency (NEA) into the activities of Robiah Lia Cantago (“Curry puffs prepared in unhygienic conditions”, TNP, June 4) I fervently believe that the authorities did the right thing by taking her to task.

Consumers need to be protected from food poisoning and other health problems that can be caused by food prepared in poor conditions.  Recycled oil used for long periods can also make people ill.

 NEA has been doing an excellent job by ensuring that hawker centres prepare food in healthy conditions and its grading system helps consumers make informed choices in deciding where to eat.

Operating an illegal food business is also fair to stallholders who pay for a valid licence.  There are proper procedures to apply for a licence to sell cooked food and Madam Robiah could have approached her Member of Parliament for assistance.  

While we welcome foreigners, we should make it clear to them that if they are in trouble , there are proper ways of seeking help, without breaking any laws.




Monday, June 1, 2015

Share expertise to tackle climate change issues: Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to the press.

My letter to the Straits Times on the above subject is published today, Monday 1st June 2015.

It appears that climate change is coming at a much faster pace than was anticipated - with India and the Philippines experiencing heatwaves and dry spells that resulted in deaths and the loss of crops ("More than 1,000 dead in Indian heatwave" and "Philippine dam hits critical level"; last Thursday).

In other parts of the world, such as in Texas and Oklahoma, it is the opposite trend: Flooding brought on by rain has seen 17 people killed ("Rain in Texas, Oklahoma kill 17"; last Thursday).

With harvests and the rationing of water likely to come on stream, I fear life is going to get tougher for both the Filipinos and the Indians.

With these dramatic changes, countries with expertise in climate change, water conservation and storage can do their part to help people cope.

Communication is vital in today's globalised world, and foreign domestic workers who work outside their countries must be able to stay connected with their families back home via social media and the Internet. But these services often break down when natural disasters take place.

Singapore has thousands of these foreign workers, who provide much-needed support to families and the healthcare industry here.

Singapore and richer nations can do their part by providing knowledge and expertise in water conservation and storage, as well as helping the affected countries improve their infrastructure, which includes Internet connections.

During regular dialogues with world leaders, and at economic conferences and world summits, Singapore leaders can try to persuade rich nations to rally around countries facing challenges and provide them with resources and expertise.

Raymond Anthony Fernando