Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando's letter to The Straits Times: Allowance to ease caregivers' stress




My letter to The Straits Times on the above subject is published today, Wednesday 13th December 2017.

 

I second the call by Professor Kalyani K Mehta for the Government to provide family caregivers with a caregiver allowance (Families under pressure in ageing society; Dec 9).

It is just not practical for caregivers to balance caregiving responsibilities with activities such as work, household chores and other family commitments.

Those who are employed will most likely experience interruptions at work, frequent leave of absence and reduced productivity, as caregiving takes up so much of their time. There are some caregivers who are taking care of more than one relative, and this can be extremely stressful. This is more so when their relative has mental health issues.

It is not uncommon for caregivers to fall into depression when they suffer burnout. Often, they neglect their own health to focus all their time, energy and care on their charges.

Almost all caregivers experience financial stress associated with providing care. In fact, lack of funding and financial support is one of the biggest pain points that many caregivers will attest to.

Given that caregiving is often a 24-hour task, many have little or no choice but to give up their jobs, and this places them in severe financial hardship.

To this end, it will help a great deal if the Government provides a monthly caregiver allowance to enable caregivers to cope better.

Caregiving should be viewed as a noble responsibility rather than a burden.


 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Monday, December 11, 2017

Launch of Website: zinniaafternote.com: Beautiful, unforgettable memories



We are a group of like-minded individuals who are passionate in giving back to society with our primary objective of keeping the memories of those who passed on, very much alive. 
2. Death is often viewed as a taboo subject which most people avoid talking about. Yet dying is very much a part of life’s journey.
3. Our website, zinniaafternote.com, the first ever in Singapore, was founded on two fundamental principles:
(a) To enable everyone to be remembered.  As conventional obituaries are too costly for many Singaporeans, our website provides free online obituaries for any of these citizens who passes away.
(b) We want to improve individual and societal well-being through the expression of words. In reaching out to the living who have lost their loved ones, we are committed in helping them cope with grief as we rally around them in their recovery, taking into account the negative impact of post-traumatic stress disorders which is documented in many academic studies in the field of psychology.
4. Our flagship feature is the online time capsule, which is the first of its kind in the world. Scheduled emails will be fired to the recipients at the user prescribed date, 20 years, 25 years and beyond. For example, your child will receive your message at his or her 21th birthday, 30th birthday, so on and so forth. There is deep emotional closure and reassurance in play.  Moreover, this special feature will be beneficial to those with dementia or life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.

The media is a useful platform to highlight social issues, which we are staunch advocates of and to get the public to understand that it is perfectly alright to discuss death given that Singapore faces a fast ageing population.
I am now a Feature Writer and Public Relations Director of zinniaafternote.com, a beautiful website, the first of its kind in Singapore.

 

Our tagline: Life is a book. We fill the pages



Zinnia means remembrance, and Afternote means a note after the main body of a text. And in our case, the text is life, the main body is the deceased.

The zinnia flower has several meanings including thoughts of friends, endurance, daily remembrance, goodness and lasting affection. The Victorian meaning of zinnias is thoughts of an absent friend. Of the heart. Lasting affection.

More than 20 years ago, I was involved in Public Relations (PR) work in the then-Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) where I handled media relations, guest relations, liaison work, conducted tours and planning and executing VIP shows,

I loved my PR job, and in some strange way, another PR job now comes back to me.

The articles that I write have been well received from near and far. For instance, the article that I wrote on MY BLUE CHRISTMAS has, within 48 hours, garnered 1,500 likes, from Indonesia, USA, Thailand, Malaysia and here in Singapore.

We are going to launch our website in mid-January 2018.  

Do pass the word around &  rally around us to help us make this website a successful one.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Feature Writer & Public Relations Director

Website of zinniaafternote.com


 

 

 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Open Community Labs Application: Education on depression and schizophrenia to migrant workers and domestic by Model Caregiver Raymond Anthony Fernando


From the desk of Model Caregiver Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

7th December 2017

 

To whom it may concern


 

Dear Sir/Madam,



Working or studying or abroad comes with a wide range of emotions. Happy, excited and thrilled for the opportunity to live in another country and meet people of different races and cultures, but at the same time feeling homesick and grappling with separation anxiety later when the excitement wears down. 

For foreigners – whether they are migrant workers or domestic helpers, the most crucial part of adjusting to life in a different country is during the first three months. This group will begin to show signs of homesickness and being without their loved ones after a couple of months; and then they could be struggling with anxiety disorders which in the worst-case scenario could lead to depression.

While local can easily reach out to their families, it is more difficult for foreigners to do so as some could be bottling pent-up emotions.

In the case of domestic helpers, they work long and draining hours to serve the many needs of their employers, who at times can be demanding. The helpers could be suffering in silence and may not be aware that they could be showing classic signs of some mental disorders or even becoming suicidal. We have read media reports of maids either harming their charges or harming themselves when they are unable to cope.

But if migrant workers or helpers are able to fully recognize the symptom of their stress levels, they as well as their employers may be able to save or reclaim a life.

 

As part of my on-going public education of mental illness in which I have got 40 years hands-on experience in taking care of my late wife who had coped with schizophrenia, I go all over Singapore on my own accord or at times partnering IMH or VWOs to educate people on mental illness conditions.

I enclose a document from IMH confirming my commitment in this area.

I would love to reach out to migrant workers and domestic helpers and if need be to their employers to educate, inspire and motivate everyone to be in a good position to manage mental illness.

 

(a) Schizophrenia


In this 45-minute talk, I will cover my wife's 37-year battle with schizophrenia and depression, the trials and tribulations of our courtship and 37-year marriage and her miraculous recovery. The talk will also provide an insightful peek into caring for a loved one stricken with mental illness. I will also provide useful caregiver tips in managing loved ones with mental illnesses and what are the warning signs that people, including supervisors, caregivers, retirees, office colleagues, students, parents, employers, employees, volunteers and even a layman need to look out for in helping someone cope with schizophrenia – believed to be the most distressing mental disorder.

My talk also promotes the sanctity of marriage- caring for a spouse, " in sickness & in health."

(b) Talk: Depression, Beat it, Defeat it

 
In this 45-minute talk, I will cite some of the causes of depression, provide useful tips on how to better manage depression and what are the warning signs that one must look out for in tackling depression. This talk is also based on my own battle with depression for several years and how I overcame this illness and charted several new directions in life.


Facilities needed

I require a LCD Projector, laptop that can screen my power-point slides onto a screen, windows media player with speakers to broadcast my montage (5.6-minute video), and a table to promote a book on real life experience of persons who have been healed from mental illness.



PORTFOLIO OF RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity and a regular newspaper forum page writer.  He is a volunteer with Silver Ribbon Singapore and the Institute of Mental Health; and is Singapore’s leading advocate for the mentally ill.   The author of 30 books was married to Doris Lau whom he groomed to become an author of 8 books.  Raymond has written on a wide range of subjects through the media and in his books, and it includes real life stories, relationships, marriage, social issues, advocacy, ghost stories, humour, children’s stories, poems, creative suggestions and spiritual content. Raymond who was chosen as Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010 is born on Valentine’s Day.  He has contributed 31 years’ service in the public sector, has 15 years’ experience in public relations work and has received several awards and commendations from government organisations.  

 

May I look forward to securing the $1,000 sponsored project? And to get a reply from you – soonest. Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Letter to The Catholic News: Education, advocacy effective in removing stigma on mental illness




My press letter to The Catholic News on the above matter is published this weekend, and will reach out to 300,000 Catholics in Singapore  

 

I refer to the report, Discussing discrimination surrounding mental illness, (CN, November 26).

 

The move by Clarity to create a platform for people to talk openly and share personal stories about mental health issues is the step in the right direction.

 

More of such discussions and sharings by those who have walked the journey and have stayed resilient in the face of adversity can help a great deal in eradicating stigma, as well as paving the way for family members to embrace caregiving as a noble job.

 

All of us in the mental health community need to raise our voices against stigma – in every possible way.  Stigma prevents people struggling from mental health issues from seeking help.

 

Wrongful assumptions that persons with mental illness cannot recover must be corrected. This is where advocates should come out in full force to debunk this misconception. Combating stigma is by no means an easy task. Stigma leads to discrimination where sufferers of mental disorders become isolated and are the prime target of all kinds of humiliating remarks within the community and at the workplace.

 

Most people fear what they don’t understand. In the case of mental illness, a lack of understanding can give the wrong impression that all psychiatric patients are violent and cannot function properly.  This is far from true as there are many success stories of how recovered patients are contributing as useful members of society through the support, love and care of their caregivers.

 

The media has an important role to play in de-stigmatising mental illness as it can so easily sway peoples’ thinking.  Patients and caregivers are the best people to speak out against stigma.  By expressing their thoughts and opinions through public forums, letters to the media and on social media, they can gradually change perceptions of the mentally ill.  

 

In managing a loved one with mental illness, it is important to observe the 3Ps –Patience, Perseverance and Prayer. 

 

Recovery from mental illness takes time, so be patient and don’t set your expectations too high.  Above all, don’t get discouraged.  Some days will be worse than others, but just like the clouds, these will pass away. 

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Singapore

More concreate measures needed to protect the vulnerable: An open public suggestion to the Singapore Government




It is troubling to read reports of how a couple had systematically abused and caused grievous hurt to 26-year-old Annie Ee Yu Lian for 8 months, which eventually led to her death (“14, 16.5 years’ jail for couple who tortured tenant to death”, December 1, 2017, MediaCorp’s TODAY Newspaper).

Ee had borderline intelligence and the couple knew about her condition.

The vulnerable in our society who include those with mental illness need far better protection and support.

To this end, I would like to propose some suggestions to help improve the structural support for this marginalised group.

Appoint Estate Mental Health Ambassadors (EMHA) to serve in the respective estates.

♦ Firstly, I propose we train suitable people in the neighbourhoods on mental illness by well-established mental health providers who could include professionals from the Institute of Mental Health, Silver Ribbon Singapore and the Singapore Association for Mental Health.   After they are trained, they can be appointed as Estate Mental Health Ambassadors (EMHA) to serve in the respective estates.

These trained EMHAs whose contact numbers can be given on HDB notice boards, community clubs and on a given website can be contacted to help anyone grappling with mental illness. 

It must be made abundantly clear to both the EMHAs and the person/s being helped that patient confidentially will be respected at all times.

As it is difficult to secure volunteers, an allowance can be given to the EMHAs for their time, efforts, meals and paper work every time they handle a case. The funds can come from the community clubs and all cases must be handled with privacy and confidentially on the person being helped.  Once a case has been handled professionally, the EMHA submits a simple report to the grassroots leader to make a claim.  Such allowances can also come from any charity or organisation that supports mental health.

Vital to ensure psychiatric patients don’t default on their medical appointments /medications

♦ Secondly, mental health providers need to ensure that those with mental health issues keep to their medical appointments and counselling. For example, the Community Psychiatry Department of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) must constantly keep in touch with patients so that they do not default on their treatments and medications.  If need be, part-timers with some basic knowledge of mental illness can be hired by IMH, with funds provided by the Health Ministry.

Collaborations

(a)Tie-ups between HDB, MSF and MPs/Mayors

♦ Whenever a registered flat owner takes in a tenant, it is compulsory that the HDB is informed. Therefore, my third proposal is that both the HDB and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) are kept duly posted when the flat owner rents out a room to anyone with any vulnerable condition. In doing so, the tenant with special needs can be closely monitored by MSF, and abuse can be prevented.  The respective Member of Parliament (MP) and Mayor can be kept informed.

 (b) MPs and Mayors need to stay connected to residents

♦ Last, but not least, it is important for Members of Parliament, Mayors and their grassroots leaders to stay in touch with the residents so that they are in a good position to understand sentiments on the ground. They can do this either through quarterly home visits or tea or breakfast sessions at the nearest void decks where the residents live.  This is also an opportune time for the elected officials to get to know the residents better – and to explain government policies and directions, if any.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

Friday, December 1, 2017

Opinion: Touch has the right touch for the new mental incapacity scheme




With a fast ageing population coming on-stream that might see more seniors becoming mentally incapacitated, I applaud the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) for being proactive in developing the Community Kin Service for people who are unable to make decisions on their finances (Social workers can get powers to manage seniors’ finances and Touch staff are like family, says 85-year-old widow; November 30, 2017).

Every one of us has a one percent chance of developing mental illness, but that figure is expected to go up amid global challenges, uncertainties, relationship issues and rising costs.

It is always a challenge to leave money in the hands of people or organisations we are unfamiliar with, but with the safeguards that have been put in place by MSF, seniors aged 60 and above can be assured that their money is in safe hands.

The Touch Community Services has always been very supportive of the elderly and the needy.

The staff of Touch Senior Activity Centre are caring, loving, trustworthy and above all committed in taking care of the elderly and those in need.

On a personal level, my late wife, Doris and I have benefitted much from Touch Home Care whose staff are patient, understanding, supportive and who go the extra mile in bringing on smiles to their beneficiaries.

Certainly, one such person from Touch Home Care who has so much love in her for those facing challenges is Occupational Therapist Ms Sandy Goh who was recently promoted to Manager of Touch Home Care in Jurong. Sandy took great pains to provide a safe home environment for my late wife Doris who had mobility problems in the last stages of her life.



Raymond Anthony Fernando 

Opinion: The Royal Romance; a match made in heaven



The whole world is talking about it; the media is running so many reports on the royal romance of Prince Harry and his future wife, America actress Meghan Markle.

When couples are able to give back to society and give love to those in need, somehow or other, beautiful relationships can emerge, as with the case of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (The Life Section of The Straits Times, November 29, 2017).

Prince Harry has followed in the footsteps of his beloved mother Princess Diana by focusing on doing charity work, in particular to support the welfare of military veterans and carrying on the legacy of his late mother’s work by helping those with Aids and those grappling with mental health issues. 

Clearly Prince Harry’s love for his mother lives deep in his heart as he got the designers to use two diamonds from Princess Diana’s personal jewellery collection to design the beautiful engagement ring for his bride.

His fiancée, Meghan has much love for the human race too.  She is very much involved in charity work. In 2016, she became a World Vision Global Ambassador after making a trip to Rwanda where she was involved in the new clean water pipeline.

With the couple possessing a shared love for charity work, society will benefit and with their dedication and commitment, it will surely inspire and motivate others to step forward and give back to society – so that the world will be a far better place to live in.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Public education on mental illness must be on-going with structural change to support patients and their caregivers: An open article to President Halimah Yacoob & the Singapore Government




 I am so often moved by the love dedicated caregivers of the mentally ill show to their care recipients, and the hours they spend offering help and support to help them in their recovery. Believe me it is no easy task!

 

Their heart-breaking stories are representative of the many voices of caregiversthe mothers, fathers, children, sisters and brothers who often choose to remain out of the public eye due to the nagging mental illness stigma.  The hardest part of being a caregiver other than making sacrifices and neglecting their own care is doing so all the time with a pure heart and never failing to pray. Having a faith is so important for caregivers. Whatever religion caregivers’ practice, having a faith can make the caregiving journey so much lighter.

 

I heard someone mention that caregiving is “love in action,” a description that relates pretty well with me. The selfless love that caregivers express every hour of every day is so important to the well-being of others, but it’s also important that caregivers remember to take care of themselves.

 

Many people have asked me how I managed to take care of my late wife who battled schizophrenia for 40 long years. Their supplementary question:  Who took care of you, Raymond during those 4 decades?  My answer is simple – Jesus.  The Lord had been watching me all those years and He continues to do so as I try to rebuild my life.

 

Help for mentally incapacitated elderly with no family support

 

I applaud the Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Lee for taking the initiative to provide a useful scheme to help people who are mentally incapacitated.  In a report on Channel News Asia, “More help for mentally incapacitated elderly with no family support” on 29th November 2017, seniors aged 60 years and above who have lost their mental capacity and who lack family support will be given the option to turn to the Voluntary Welfare organisations (VWOs) to make important decisions regrading their finances.  Under strict criteria, the VWOs will have to apply to the court to carry out this task. This scheme will be launched in early 2018.

On-going public education on mental illness and structural changes to support caregivers are much needed

In anticipation that seniors may become mentally incapacitated or even prevent them from falling into this predicament, it is vital to provide them with an excellent support system from day one, including those who are caregivers who have the unenviable task of taking care and managing loved ones with mental health conditions.

It breaks my heart to read reports of people who are struggling with intellectual disabilities being abused. It can be extremely stressful taking care of someone with mental illness.  Tempers can so easily flare up and anger management takes a beating.

Over the last 8 years, I have gone all over Singapore, most of the time on my own accord, and at times partnering the Institute of Mental Health and occasionally a VWO to educate the public on depression and schizophrenia where I provide useful caregiver tips on bringing patients to a recovery. To date, I have given more than 100 talks all over Singapore.

I want to reach to more segments in the community that includes places of worship and the Community Development Councils. But I face lots of hurdles in wanting to do so.

My friends tell me to keep knocking on doors, and one day some will open their doors. I hope that day arrives, sooner than expected.

The reality is that everyone of us has a one percent chance of getting mental illness, but I am sure that this figure has risen given the uncertainties and challenges in a globalised competitive world coupled with rising costs that many cannot cope with.

Bringing mental health public education overseas

I read a report which documents that in the Philippines in 2015, 7 Filipinos commit suicide every day, and I am sure that figure would have risen by now. 

In Malaysia too, many people are also grappling with mental health issues and so in Indonesia.

With my knowledge and expertise in mental health issues, coupled with my passion and commitment on mental health issues, I hope to reach out to these ASEAN neighbours and help their citizens to manage mental health issues much better.

Nothing is impossible if we put relentless effort in what we believe in.  Adopt the attitude that ‘We should live a life with no regrets’ and that, we can achieve. With that I leave all my readers to ponder over this poem which I specially wrote for my advocacy work.

 

Beacon
A poem in support of persons with mental illness and their caregivers

Together with the citizens of our beautiful lands
I will walk with you – hand in hand
I will travel near and far
To remove the mental illness stigma
There will be no mountains too high to climb
No rivers that are difficult to cross
I will guide you all the way
I will ensure that you'll never be lost

Do not be afraid to let go
I care for you
This virtue I want you to know
Feel no more pain
Have no more fear
For soon – the sky will be clear

I will help you all cope
And bring forth to you –renewed hope
I will be your beacon – your guiding light
That will make your days sunny and bright

Sincerely,

Raymond Anthony Fernando
© copyrightraymondfernando2005

 

Thank you for your time, Madam President, and I look forward to your support in helping me fulfill my passion so that we can all save and reclaim lives.

 

Sincerely,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to The New Paper: Offer kind words to MRT staff



My letter on the above matter is published in The New Paper today, Thursday 23 November 2017.

 Following the train collision (at Joon Koon MRT station) last week, the authorities have done the right thing by taking steps to tackle the causes of the accident.

While there has been some disruption of train services, I applaud the companies that have provided alternative modes of transport to ferry their workers from the affected MRT stations to their work place and back.

This means that productivity and staff morale will not be compromised, and private bus operators can benefit from the additional revenue earned.

We also have to remember that by and large, the MRT has served us well over the years.  And it will help to say a few kind words to the staff, to lift their spirts.

We need to pull together as one people, one nation during such challenges.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 

 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Afternote Article for zinniaafternote.com: “Knowing you is loving you”




 
Dear folks,

Do take time to read my article on the above matter. Very touching and down-to-earth write up.

Thanks

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando
Feature Writer

 

 

When a loved one has passed on, relatives will have to start rebuilding their lives. What is so important is for family members to cherish and honour those who have left us. To keep their memories alive for the commitment and selfless support and love they have given to their families and the community who include their employers, co-workers and friends.

 

Every human body, dead or alive must be cared for and treated with reverence and respect. We are talking about people – those with families and friends, people who were loved and were loved.  We are talking about people who may have died through natural causes and people who have died prematurely, either through sickness or through unforeseen circumstances such as tragedies or accidents.

 

While an obituary will inform people of the passing of someone, here at Zinniaafternote, they fervently believe that it is so important to give some insightful peeks into the lives of those who have died, so that they will be fondly remembered.  Basically, to know the person and to love him/her. 

 

This brings to my mind a lovely song made popular by a pop group, The Teddy Bears, way back in the early years, entitled To know him is to love him”

 

The opening lyrics of this lovely tune go like this:

 

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do (and I do, and I do)”

 

True to every sense of the word, when we get to know someone, we can learn to love him or her.

 

Therefore, when we provide an afternote alongside the obituary, even people who do not know the deceased will be able to somehow or other have connectivity. And through connectivity, beautiful bonds can be developed – over time.

 

Cases in point are the afternotes which I wrote for both my wife and my sister.

 

For Doris, I have, and will always cherish her till the end of time as she had given me 40 best years of my life, and this is clearly documented in the afternote. For even when I pass on, anyone can still read and cherish the beautiful memories Doris and I once shared as a couple. And such memories will live on and on.  Doris had special needs and to a large extent, people will admire her for the love she has so unselfishly gave to me.  This can so easily spur others to cherish and care for their loves ones who will include their spouses or parents or grandparents.

 

In the same vein, I have honoured my only sister with an afternote, remembering Veronica as outstanding and model worker in the giant telco, Singtel where she worked for 35 long years. Additionally, her remarkable selfless dedication and commitment as the sole caregiver to my 95-year-old mother, Veronica can certainly be an inspiration to others to embrace caregiving as a noble job.

 

We have many unsung heroes in our midst who feel for the needy, but go unnoticed.  They do not crave for glory, but they do their bit to lift the human spirit – and that in itself is commendable.

 

I was chatting with my downstairs neighbour a short while ago and while touching on the subject of honouring the dead, I thanked him for the kindness he often shows to me. Let’s just call him “C.”  C looks rather stern, but he has a heart of gold.  I got to know C as I adore children, and he has two well brought up kids. They are polite and respectful and so is his wife.

 

C knows I enjoy reading the newspapers, but unselfishly shares The Straits Times with me every single day as he is fully aware that being without a full-time job means I have to cut corners.

 

C is in his own special way doing charity work by showing compassion, empathy and support to me as he knows that as a widower, I could do with some kind of support, even if it is for a friendly half an hour chit-chat.

 

There are many kind-hearted people like C around, and they all ought to be remembered when their journey ends.  On all accounts, zinniaafternote.com is the right platform to do so.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 


 

Monday, November 20, 2017

An awesome website in ZinniaAfternote




Dear readers,


Do take time to visit this beautiful website which I have collaboration with. I thank the Good Lord and my beloved wife for opening new doors into my life – bringing this new website and her owners into my life. Here’s where I have the opportunity to express my writings in a constructive and positive way.  And I am very uplifted!


I have placed my late wife and sister’s obituaries here to honour – both of them whom our families loved deeply.


I am also a feature writer here and you can read my articles here – every month.


What ZinniaAfternote believes in


ZinniaAfternote leads the social movement to empower people to freely express their emotions.


We believe that both written and spoken expression of tragic life events will aid emotional closure and improve the overall well-being. ZinniaAfternote will provide our community with indefinite access to live obituaries and drafting of wills without an expense.


We acknowledged that time is the only constant that allows us human beings to rationalize humanity.


Obituaries will be permanently stored in our SmartOrbit-Obituaries platform to enable users with unprecedented access to post, edit, and share heart-felt words for the deceased in the most private moments. Family and friends are encouraged to participate altogether; as in such difficult times, we believe that social support is essential for recovery from grief.


We will look deep into our society, sending missionaries to the far-reached communities to capture the greatest legacy stories of our time and publish on ZinniaAfternote.


We would like to extend our invitation to established pro-social organizations, public and private social support groups to join our efforts to promote a collective learning and overall well-being.


A beautiful tagline

Life is a book. We fill the pages.

@ZinniaAfternote




Happy reading & have a great day, folks😊  Do pass the word around. Thanks & God bless!

Sincerely,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Reduce train services during off peak periods; run buses parallel along MRT routes: A public suggestion to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan & the cabinet


From the desk of

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

15th November 2017



Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has set the right direction in showing his appreciation to MRT staff who work hard to run the rail network, but took to task the small group who did not carry out proper maintenance work that resulted in the Oct 7 underground tunnel flooding (“You deserve our respect and gratitude', Khaw tells public transport workers”; November 14, 2017, MediaCorp’s Today Newspaper).

 

What Mr Khaw pointed out is very true –  that in every organisation there will be a few black sheep, who, because of their poor work attitudes spoils the reputation of the company. Rightly, so as opined by the transport minister, these unproductive workers should be identified and counselled to improve themselves or they would have to leave the organisation.

 

Public sectors officers can help make the lives of our citizens better

 

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean who is also the minister in charge of the civil service has recently reminded public sector officers to fine-tune policies so that the public can be better served. This is timely given that many Singaporeans are in dire need of support. I am glad that DPM is listening to feedback, some of it which comes from me – be in through my press letters, my emails or proposals on my blog. I will continue to provide constructive feedback and useful suggestions as an active citizen so that Singapore can be the BEST home to live in.

 

Everyone from the community, whether they are from religious bodies, neighbours, relatives, schoolmates, grassroots leaders and advisors have to do their part to lend support and rally around the needy.  Much more has to be done in this area.



More engineering hours need to fix MRT woes


The Transport Minister has mentioned that more engineering hours will be required to rectify the ageing rail assists which has to be upgraded quickly (“Comparing Singapore's newest and oldest MRT lines”; November, 14, 2017, MediaCorp’s Today Newspaper). He is spot on!

 

With the school holidays commencing next week, it will be timely to undertake the intensive maintenance work.  

But safety must be a top priority when transporting thousands of passengers every day. SMRT staff also need to work in a safe environment.

A collective prayer for MOT Minister, injured passengers and for SMRT & LTA staff to overcome problems

I have full of empathy for our Transport Minister, the SMRT staff & the LTA staff. All work extremely hard and it is a very demanding job to get the trains running on time and efficiency. I was therefore deeply saddened to get news today that 23 passengers were injured and had to be sent to hospital after an MRT train collided with another at Joo Koon station.

Let’s all join hands and say a collective prayer for the injured passengers to recover quickly and also for the SMRT to overcome any problems coming on-stream – and for all of them to succeed in the maintenance work.  

Shut down train services for 2 - 3 hours

Given that it has now become necessary to undertake what appears to be somewhat of a critical maintenance, perhaps the train operating hours can be cut to say 2 to 3 hours either on weekends or 3 times during week days, during off peak periods when people traffic is relatively lower. But we also have to take into account that given the rainy seasons in November to January, maintenance work may be held back during heavy downpours. 

As practically all Singapore and foreigners are heavily dependent on the MRT trains for their transport needs, reductions in train operating hours could be carried out at different MRT lines and at different times.

To ensure that commuters will be more accepting to the reduction of trains services which they are so accustomed to, there is a need to comprise a little. 

(a) As a temporary measure, it will be necessary to run public buses parallel along the same routes that the trains run. 

(b) Where feasible, reduce the bus fares by half or better still, provide free bus services during the periods when trains operations are curtailed.  This could be a way to record MOT’s appreciation to passengers who will have to put up with some disruptions to their daily travel patterns, and it’s a good way to rebuild the image of the SMRT.

If we able to look at the big picture, we will be able to see the long-term benefits when the thorough maintenance works can put the trains back on track – again.   So, let us exercise more patience and allow the maintenance crew to sort things out. 

For I have every confidence that in time to come with this intensified maintenance work and the expertise from the seconded engineers from DSTA, we can look forward to less train breakdowns and inconveniences. When this scenario takes place, we can certainly look forward to a Happy New Year in January or February.

In closing, I hope everyone, including the government can take a few steps back to ponder if we are moving too fast where stress levels are becoming overwhelming. Where tempers flare up so easily – on the roads, in our schools and even at nightclubs. A case in point was when a minor scuffle in a nightclub at St James Power Station turned into a large-scale fist fight last Sunday morning.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando's letter to The Life Section of The Straits Times: St Andrew’s values still in play today



 
My letter to The Straits Times Life Section on the above subject is published today, Saturday 7th November.
 
I refer to May Seah’s feature in St Andrew’s family of schools in Potong Pasir (Built For The Boys, Nov, Life) 
 
Every time I travel pass by St Andrew’s Village, I would recall that song, Up And  On that we used to sing in school. It is a tune that is synonymous with St Andrew's. 
In the 1950s, when St Andrew's was built in Woodsville, it was the only Christian school beside the Kallang River offering education to children of farmers, hawkers and lower middle-income families living in what are now Balestier, Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir areas. 
 
Although not all the teachers at St Andrew's were Christians, they all recognised that a good education meant imparting good values and knowledge to produce an all rounded student.
 
Out of this education at St Andrew’s, values such as honesty, integrity, equality, fair play, friendly competition and sportsmanship nurtured a strong bond. Such values are practised until this very day.  
 
Raymond Anthony Fernando