Thursday, December 24, 2015

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: 'Silent Night' for lonely seniors

My letter to The Straits Times on the above subject is published today, Thursday 24th December 2015.
Being a widowed senior citizen who has lost key social support, I share the sentiments expressed by Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng (“Vital to help seniors feel connected with society; Dec 19).

Seniors who have experienced unconditional love from their late spouses and lack community support are bound to fall into depression as they feel a huge vacuum in their lives.

Within the four walls of our homes, many of us are suffering in silence, as there are too many painful memories of the loved that we once were fortunate to experience.

This sense of being uncared for intensifies for Christians when Christmas comes around as lonely seniors see families and friends in joyous celebration.

This is when our vulnerable citizens have to literally experience a “Silent Night”.

During a home visit last month, my Member of Parliament, Dr Koh Poh Koon, felt my loss, gave me some FairPrice vouchers for Christmas and directed his grassroots leader to place me on the list of vulnerable citizens.

I was deeply touched by Dr Koh’s generosity and this must surely be the behaviour all MPs can emulate.

Churches, too, has an important role to play in supporting their Christian seniors. Their volunteers can visit our lonely elderly and spread the joys of Christmas through carolling and simple gifts.

With the loss of income, the Government can help by offering a fixed sum to our lonely elderly through the proposed Silver Support Scheme, while the Ministry of Health could lower the qualifying age for subsidies for seniors, as medical costs are a concern for many retired Singaporeans. Raymond Anthony Fernando
It isn't enough that I have loved/cared for my wife to her last dying breath, practised the marriage vows for 40 years to the letter, based on my Catholic teachings, but when my wife dies, everything  has  died with her.  Almost all churches are now turning me away and my only means of earning a decent living & to keep my sanity  has come to a grinding halt.
 The Shepherd must know how to lead his/her flock and bring light to those who are trapped in darkness. And our clergy should know that.
Besides, MP Dr Koh, there are a few others who understand my struggles in my quest to rebuild my life,  both as a writer and as a widower ,and they include Senior Minister of State in PMO, Mr Heng Chee How who purchased 25 copies of my book , A/Prof Chua Hong Choon who bought 20 copies of my novel and Dr Pauline Tan , the CEO of the Yishun Community Hospital who purchased 20 copies of my books.  These are exceptional human beings. For when a door closes, God will open windows.
In closing, I also want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to a few friends who have taken the trouble to take me out for a meal.
Have a Blessed Christmas!
Raymond Anthony Fernando

Monday, December 21, 2015

More should be done to aid disaster-prone Philippines.

My letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY Newspaper on the above issue gets published today, Monday 21st December 2015.

As the world celebrates Christmas, millions in the Philippines will literally be having a silent night from the effects of yet another typhoon (“Typhoon kills four, cuts power in Philippines”; Dec 16).

Every year, its citizens must live in fear as the country experiences 20 typhoons, on average, many of which cause destruction to homes.

The Philippines’ provinces have beautiful beaches and colourful festivals — rooted in Christianity and dating back to the Spanish colonial period — that delight its people, attract tourists and help boost the economy.

However, left unchecked, the effects of the numerous natural disasters will, in time, cripple the Philippine economy and cause suffering.

Besides power being cut off, communications may break down, leaving many in anxiety. Prolonged anxiety is a lead-up to mental disorders.

As a community, well-off nations, philanthropists and charitable organisations should do their part in raising funds and providing expertise, such as in engineering and housing, to improve lives in the Philippines.

For example, emergency generators with solid concrete walls could be built in strategic areas.
Churches in Singapore could set aside weekly collections from parishioners to help fund infrastructural improvements, while the Tzu Chi Foundation can continue with the cash-for-work
programme that helps Filipinos reconstruct their homes and surrounding areas.



Friday, December 18, 2015

Letter to The Straits Times: Send a ray of light to the Philippines

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today - Friday 18th December 2015.

I was saddened to read the report of Typhoon Melor, which has wreaked havoc in the Philippines (“Typhoon leaves millions without power in Philippines”; Wednesday).

Even though Filipinos are resilient, and typhoons often batter their country, we should never turn a blind eye to their suffering.

The disasters cause power failures. Families live in darkness.

Water supply is poor, leaving many who have sickness to suffer even more. The humid tropical climate creates even more suffering.

I urge all nations and people who are financially secure to rally around the Filipinos and end their suffering by providing a range of support – from financial to expertise and materials.

For example, charitable organisations can supply battery-operated fans and portable lights for households to use during power failures.

The Red Cross, Mercy Relief and Tzu Chi Foundation can coordinate relief efforts to lift the human spirit and bring a ray of light to everyone living in the Philippines.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Heavy handed IMH Psychiatrist refusing to release patient who has recovered: An open letter to President Dr Tony Tan and the Singapore Government

My twin brother was admitted into the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) more than 3 months ago, and is now in ward 35B under the care of the nurses and the watchful eye of acting Assistant Director (Nursing) Gurbak Singh who has been directed by A/Professor Dr Chua Hong Choon, the Chief Executive Officer of IMH to care for him and look into his welfare, and through their care and compassion, my brother has now recovered.  

It is now 120 days since my brother has stayed in IMH and with him having to pay at least $40 per day for ward charges alone, the hospital bills is going to be huge and will eat up most of his Medisave.  Is this any way to treat a senior citizen (my brother is 65 years old)?

Moreover as Advent has arrived, it only proper that sensitivity be exercised as Christians need to spend Christmas with their families.  My brother was in tears when he phoned last week, pleading with me to secure his release and asked me to appeal for help from his Member of Parliament.

Despite being stabilised, my brother’s attending psychiatrist, one Dr Ganesh who is from India has been defiant and refuses to release my brother and even had the audacity to tell my brother that I take up the matter with the authorities as he is not afraid of anyone.   Clearly there is a total lack of compassion with absolutely no respect for the patient and his family members.  My 92 –year-old mother who resides in a nursing home is not aware that her son has been confined to IMH and it will break her heart if she finds out.  How long can she live? It is inhumane to do this to the family, taking into account also that I have lost my wife and will have to spend Christmas all alone.

It is highly improper for foreigners to ill treat Singaporeans when the Singapore Government welcomes foreign talent with open arms , and the worst part is that these bullies are allowed to get away with their heavy handedness.

The CEO of IMH is a very kind and understanding man, but some of his staff are tarnishing the good image that he wants to build and maintain.

Appeals to the Ministry of Health, the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers have fallen on deaf ears.  No one wants to reply.  What is all this talk of being an inclusive society when there is absolutely no compassion for our marginalized citizens who need support?

IMH is now in the news – for all the wrong reasons, as a Myanmar nurse has been charged with assaulting a mentally ill patient.  The healthcare professionals have to learn one thing – help patients in their recovery and get them home so that they can rebuild their lives and reintegrate back into society.  And if they are unable to do that, then why pray tell are they in the business of mental health care?



Latest update - Sunday 13 Dec 2015.: Due to the stress of what it taking place, my twin brother's 30 over years son who has a Bipolar condition, has suffered a stroke and is now warded in New Changi Hospital.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Public suggestion: SPH should consider investing in TV and movie productions to raise revenue


Dear Dr Yaccob,

Given that the internet makes it so very convenient for users to access news and other information at hardly any costs, it is timely that that the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is making the right move to invest in other areas to source for additional revenue ( “SPH committed to find new revenue sources, say chairman”; 1st December 2015).

Even local writers and their book publishers are losing out to the internet and some have to end up winding their core business and look for other ways to bring in the dollars.

Given that SPH has been pretty successful in reaching out to listeners on the radio channel of Kiss92, with John Klass, Maddy, Arnold and Jason, I fervently believe that SPH could increase her revenue by investing in television and film productions.  As a pilot project, SPH could have joint projects with MediaCorp and established local film producers and even overseas producers.  I have every confidence that advertisers would not hesitate to air their products and services on these networks as SPH has a good reputation.

There are many moving real life stories of Singaporeans who have gone through huge adversities in life and have come out stronger than ever; and such real life challenges are bound to touch the audience – be in on the small screen or in the cinemas.

There is a win-win situation with this proposal as young talented graduates and even former broadcasters who can serve as mentors can help build up the industry.

In this day and age, if businesses are to survive, both the SPH and MediaCorp must not see each other as competitors, but rather as partners. 

I appreciate a reply from your ministry, please, Minister.

Raymond Anthony Fernando