Friday, April 28, 2017

NEA and her volunteers can help promote graciousness at hawker centres

Do read my article on the above subject, here on The Malayan Chronicles. As in many of my press letters and articles, I analyze the issues carefully and then provide CONSTRUCTIVE and WORKABLE SOLUTIONS.
NEA and her volunteers can help promote graciousness at hawker centres
Public pressure on the police to take action on the abuse has resulted in the couple being arrested “Police arrest two for Toa Payoh hawker centre dispute” (The New Paper, April 27)

Often people will resort to airing abuses through the internet and social media to ensure swift action is taken against what they deem as unfair treatment and bullying tactics.

I have observed time and again that patience and graciousness is sadly lacking among many of us – be it on the roads and in the community. Like thousands who viewed the video of the young couple allegedly abusing the elderly man who wanted to have his meal at a table, I am also shocked at the alleged offensive language and force against the elderly man.

Those who ill-treat the elderly must be made aware that sooner or later we will all get old and would we be happy if we are abused or shown disrespect when age catches up on us?

These days some people so easily lose patience and this will likely become more intense as the population rises in the years ahead. Filming an ugly incident such as this one that has gone viral does not help to promote our society as a gracious and caring one. What will the tourists think of us?

Perhaps, the video could have first be routed to government agencies like the police, the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the National Environment Agency for investigation.

Clearly, discipline, graciousness and showing kindness to one another must be stepped up.

The Singapore Mass Transit Authority (SMRT) has been proactive and have deployed their staff at all MRT stations during peak hours to ensure that passengers line up in an orderly manner, and they constantly remind everyone to give way to alighting passengers. Thus, queuing up at stations has been ingrained in all passengers.

I have witnessed some younger passengers tapping the shoulders of the elderly to offer their seats when they see seniors standing in crowed trains. I have been fortunate to experience such kindness, although there will still be youthful passengers who will ‘pretend’ to sleep when they see an elderly person right in front of them who could well do with a seat. At the end of the day, it all boils down to attitude and upbringing.

So why not emulate the work of the SMRT? To this end, the National Environment Agency (NEA) could bring in their staff and her volunteers to promote graciousness at popular hawker centres during peak periods so that gradually fine dining, even if it is with strangers makes it a pleasure to have a meal at these food centres.

While the NEA has stepped up enforcement on littering and fined people for throwing cigarette butts, it also a bigger role to play – in ensuring that diners stop this bad habit of reserving seats, and making sure our seniors are not bullied or abused in any way.

Bottom line: Let’s dine with graciousness so as to allow our manners to shine.



‘Catch’ people doing the right thing to promote graciousness

My press letter on the above subject appears today in MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper – Friday 28th April 2017.
I refer to the report “Toa Payoh couple arrested: Experts caution against lynch-mob mentality (April 27).
People often turn to the Internet and social media to ensure action is taken against what they deem to be unfair treatment.
Like many who have viewed the video of the couple abusing the elderly man who was looking for a seat at a table, I was upset about the bullying.
I have observed regularly that patience and graciousness is lacking among many of us, whether on the roads or in the community.
While mobile phones can easily capture ungracious behaviour, why not get netizens to film people doing the right thing for a change?
Let us work towards being more positive in life, rather than allowing a negative mindset to damage gracious living. For example, diners at hawker centres who do not “chope” seats but offer them instead to anyone in need — a pregnant lady, senior citizen or person with a disability — could be caught on camera showing kindness.
The National Environment Agency could spearhead this drive in collaboration with the hawkers’ associations, town councils and the Singapore Kindness Movement.
Such videos could be posted online, and write-ups of the gracious acts and interviews with the persons who displayed them could be publicised in newsletters and placed on public housing notice boards.
With such initiatives, I am confident that graciousness and consideration for one another can be part and parcel of life here, sooner or later.
We must develop patience and understanding as we grow as an inclusive society, and more so when the population swells in the years ahead.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to the press: A home is a sanctuary, not a money-maker

My letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY Newspaper appears today, Tuesday 11th April 2017.
I refer to the report “HDB leases: Buyers’ short-term focus may lead to future woes” (March 28).
Since there are residents who feel that the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme is a way to make money, the National Development Minister is right to set the record straight on this scheme, lest speculation continues.
I also agree with the letter “Odds stacked against getting windfall from Sers” (April 5).
A home, whether it is public housing or private property, must be a sanctuary for any family — a place of peace and rest after a day’s work or studying at school. A family should be happy to call it home.
With the Home Improvement Programme, which is heavily subsidised and includes several elderly-friendly features, flat owners, the elderly in particular, can be assured of a safer environment.
Some who have benefited from the programme, however, are seizing the opportunity to sell their flat in the hope of making a profit.
It does not help when property agents are stuffing flyers through gates and into the letterboxes of renovated homes in an attempt to lure owners to sell their flats.
House-hopping for monetary gain should be discouraged. Public housing, in particular, with all the government grants, must not be a money-making business, or else we would indirectly be creating a culture in which money becomes the be-all and end-all.
I cannot understand why people think nothing of packing and unpacking each time they move house. Moreover, the noise generated after new owners buy a flat can inconvenience the neighbours in the block and the opposite block.
This is happening in my neighbourhood practically every month.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bestseller –Loving a Schizophrenic promotes the sanctity of marriage

For many years, my wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang, before and after our marriage, had to stay “hidden” because of the blatant discrimination of her mental illness.

One day I decided that to remove the darkness in her life and bring ‘A Ray Of Hope’ to her and the millions of patients in her condition. Then was when I decided to write this book entitled “Loving A Schizophrenic”. But it was not plain sailing to get the novel out as my wife was so afraid that people would humiliate and hurt her after reading about her severe mental disorder in schizophrenia. It took me 6 months to write the manuscript, but I had to wait one full year before Doris gave her approval.

As a safeguard, I decided to use pseudo names to write the book. I would call her ‘Soo Mei’ and I would be known as ‘Daniel’.

The good news came 6 months after my novel starting selling like hot cakes and when so many people came to me for help after reading the novel. It was then that my wife decided she should not hide her head in the sand and be open about her illness. We both did a press interview and when readers read the article, much more came forward to buy the book. The rest is history.

Doris has battled schizophrenia for the last forty years.  Schizophrenia is the most distressing of all mental disorders.  It is an illness that is often camouflaged and many people who are inexperienced in managing this illness may at first believe that the sufferer showing irritable, moody and suspicious behaviour has a bad personality or is ill behaved.   


The disease first struck Doris at the tender age of 17.  Many people find it very hard to believe that I married her despite her mental illness.  In caring for Doris for more than three decades, I have grown to love her more and more each day.  I have seen this illness ravage more than half her life and the journey, though very difficult, can be rewarding when I see her enjoy life to the fullest. 


My wife has been hospitalised in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) twelve times during our 37 years’ marriage and I have witnessed all her delusions, hallucinations, depression and fears.  Seeing Doris struggling with the “demons in her mind” has been extremely painful for me.


My long hours at work saw Doris spending many days and nights all alone.  The loneliness and the isolation saw her missing out on her medications, resulting in relapses.


When Doris is in a stable condition, she is a loving and kind-hearted person.  But during her relapses, I become her emotional punching bag.  I have taken all her emotional outbursts quietly, allowing her to scold, shout and nag at me because I fully understand how this illness torments her, how it frustrates her.


 Over the years, I have learnt to forgive my wife as I fully understand that it is the illness and not her.  Through my experience in caring for Doris, I have learnt to completely separate the two.  Many people, including family members do not really understand the specialised care that the mentally ill need or the unremitting emotional wear and tear that caregivers have to endure everyday of their lives.  This illness is terrifying because it is unpredictable.  It requires 24-hour, minute-to- minute care.


If you wish to know about TRUE LOVE which can beat all odds and how to be a noble and resilient caregiver, Loving A Schizophrenic is the book for you.

4,000 hard copies of this book have been sold – both locally in Singapore and in the USA, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and India. Manage mental illness, before it manages you.

Don’t hesitate, get a copy now. Just go to this link and buy the book which cost just US $10.



Raymond Anthony Fernando

Author, Mental Health Champion 2010 & Model Caregiver 2007


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Article on The Malayan Chronicles: The naked truth – of mental illness

 Folks, do read this new article of mine as I reach out to a much wider audience- crisp and well presented. Public education is vital for the community and policy makers.



Raymond Anthony Fernando


In 2016, there were several cases where both men and women whose mental state had gone untreated or poorly stripped themselves.

Last month – Tuesday 31st January, police arrested a 48-year-old woman under the mental capacity act by using her naked body to prevent a van from moving off. The incident took place in Bendemeer Road.

There have been onlookers in previous cases who have seize the opportunity to capture people who go nude on their mobile phones for the ‘fun out of it’ failing to understand or empathize that they are someone’s relative.

But in this particular case we saw the good nature of a human being come alive. Seeing her in this pitiful state, a kind-hearted man stepped forward and gave her some clothes to put on. I am sure he must have known that she was not in her correct frame of mind. According to the Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News, the woman later slid under the same van to lie down in front of the wheels.

After the boys in blue spoke to her for about ten minutes, the woman finally put her clothes back on and went away with the authorities.

Just this week, two men were found walking in the nude shocking onlookers ; one in Bukit Batok and another in East Coast.

People who suffer from psychosis that goes untreated will hear ‘voices’ in their head that forces them to do bizarre things. Public nudity by the mentally ill seems to occur most often as part of other hallucinations and distortions of reality. Some feel that God or some other powerful entity has commanded them to reveal the radiance of their whole body, or they suddenly believe themselves to be an exotic dancer.

There are cases where women will walk naked in the hospital wards holding a bible because when they are tormented by the voices in their heads, in their disorientated state, believe that the devil is taunting them. And only God can save them.

As the mind degenerates in the twilight years, the elderly who try to cope with dementia may also strip themselves and as such family and professional carers must be mindful of this problem; and learn as much as they can so that steps can be taken to keep their modesty intact.

For people with dementia may also strip down in public and at unsuitable times; this behaviour is usually unrelated to any kind of psychosis. Rather than being delusional, dementia patients seem to just be confused.

Additionally, bipolar people experiencing a manic episode may simply lose their inhibitions, which can result in flashing or streaking or other inappropriate nudity, but that seems to be a less common cause than delusions.