Monday, April 30, 2018

Public Suggestion to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and the Singapore Government: Keep the memory of Inuka through stuffed toys and T-Shirts


Like many Singaporeans I was deeply saddened to read of how Inuka had to be put down to end its suffering as reported in Zoo workers, guests pay their last respects to Inuka (The New Paper, April 27).


Arthritis is extremely painful disease, not just for animals, but for humans as well. For some pet lovers, saying goodbye to a pet is just as hard as saying farewell to a family member who has to pass on.  We can never be truly in in touch with our soul if we do not realise that animals can suffer pain and sorrow just like us.

However, one virtue that shone brightly through this sad episode was the outpouring of love for this lovable polar bear from the hundreds of visitors to the zoo. Clearly, the love for animals by people from all walks of life, including children is a warm feeling that we should all embrace and continuously promote.

Animals can be some of our best of friends.  They teach us valuable lessons. They can be loyal to us, love us, and serve us.  They can also infect us with the power of unconditional love.  Animals as pets can comfort us when we face setbacks in life. 

To keep the memory of Inuka very much alive, it will be useful to create a plush replica of this bear.   Even specially designed T-shirts can be tailored to show our love for Inuka.

To this end, I urge the Singapore Zoo in partnership with Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) to take up my suggestion to produce these merchandise and market it extensively –both locally and overseas as there several benefits:

1. The sale of these products will be a money spinner for WRS and the Zoo

2. The proceeds of part of the sales can help to financially support WRS and its programmes/activities while a portion can be set aside to support a charity which WRS can adopt.

3. It promotes the love for animals

I would appreciate a reply from WRS and the Singapore Government.




Monday, April 23, 2018

Raymond's letter to The New Paper: E-scooters are a menace, ban them

My press letter to The New Paper is published today, Monday 23rd April 2018


I commend the civic-minded students who gave chase to a hit -and -run e-scooter rider as reported in “ITE students chase AMK hit-and-run e-scooterist” (The New Paper, April 20)

 Numerous people, young to old, have been injured in such incidents.


And it is most disturbing is that these e-bikers are not taking responsibility. Many of them do not properly control their devices or slowing down when there are people walking around. 


It is also not uncommon for e-scooter riders to suddenly whizz past people waiting at bus stops.


I myself was almost knocked down by e-scooter riders on two occasions.


Besides causing much distress to the accident victims and their families, the resources of the hospitals and the police are being unnecessarily stretched. 


 If stern action is not taken to stop this menace from maiming and killing innocent road users, our roads will no longer be safe.


While it may be convenient for e-scooterists to use such devices, it is most inconvenient and dangerous to other road users.

I therefore urge the authorities to consider imposing a total ban on e-scooters.



Sunday, April 22, 2018

Opinion piece to The Singapore Government: Show empathy, exercise care and understanding to SMRT’s COO Al vin Kwek

Alcohol doesn't console, it doesn't fill up anyone's psychological gaps, all it replaces is the lack of God.  It doesn't comfort man.  On the contrary, it encourages him in his folly, it transports him to the supreme regions where he is master of his own destiny.”

I am saddened to read the report, “SMRT Trains COO Alvin Kek held at Woodlands checkpoint for drink driving”, April 22, 2018, The Sunday Times.


Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult challenges to deal with. For grief comes and go, comes and go.  Some people never get over the loss of loved ones.  Even though I have lost my beloved wife one for 4 years now, I do, on occasions, still grabble with deep sadness and severe emotional pain. But I seek comfort through the power of prayer and the love from the Good Shepherd (Jesus).


It was reported in the press report that Kwek had recently lost his beloved father.  My deepest sympathy to him – and his family.


There is a British idiom which says, “The devil is in the bottle.” Basically, what it is conveying is that we should never allow alcohol abuse to take control of our lives because it can destroy us.


Sadly, those who are struggling to cope with stress – both at work and in personal matters may take to the bottle to ‘drown their sorrows.’ I have seen through the media reports – on television and the newspapers how COO Kwek has the unenviable task of trying to improve the running of our MRT trains, and that is by no means an easy task. Let’s exercise patience and understanding in SMRT’s on-going efforts to improve the rail system.


In trying to balance work stress, family commitments and alcohol consumption as a means of escapism, the SMRT management and the Transport Minister need to be mindful that prolonged grief and work-stress can so easily lead to depression. It is prudent to address this issue.


Jerry Kennard, a Health Professional correctly cautions that the history of depression and alcohol is both long and well documented – and that reasons for hitting the bottle range from a simple desire to lift mood to that of reaching a state of oblivion.


While the police have a duty to stop drink-driving, I also urge them and the authorities to exercise empathy, understanding and care in helping Alvin Kwek to better manage his present plight, and to provide him with the much-needed counselling and whatever support he needs to enable him to ‘come out of the woods’.






Thursday, April 19, 2018

Opinion piece to the Singapore Government: Don’t deprive buskers the opportunity to earn a decent living: By: Raymond Anthony Fernando


In retrospect, I do not agree with Miss Susan Tan's suggestion that buskers should not be permitted to busk as a day job. I also do not agree with the writer that busking is a form of begging (Do not allow busking as a day job; April 17, 2018, The Straits Times).

But I fully agree with the writer that talented people should be given opportunities for exposure to showcase their performance.

Buskers help make the environment a lively place and they are earning a decent living. There are many seniors who engage in busking to earn a decent living as jobs for the elderly are hard to come by as ageism is still a thorny issue.  

Busking also known as street performing, whether it be performing magic, playing music, or even juggling, can be a great way to practice your craft and earn some serious cash.

Moreover, busking is a social activity, not an anti-social one. It is a tradition that enhances public space and deserves to be wholeheartedly supported and protected by the local authorities as well as the community.

One of the hardest things about any street show is gathering a sizeable crowd to watch buskers perform. Usually once you have 2 or 3 people watching you perform, others will be more inclined to want to stop and watch your show. You will eventually start to form a crowd and next thing you know, you will have 30 to 40 people watching you. Thus, it is important to find the right place and the right time to show the talents of buskers.

The writer should not deprive buskers the chance to earn some money to pay for daily living.  We need to be more outward looking, rather than inward looking.

Has the writer been to novena MRT station and listened to the lovely singing by an elderly Eurasian busker, who, from my conversation with him informed me that he rents a one - room HDB flat and the takings from people, helps him to pay for his rent, PUB, simple meals and other needs?

Has the writer visited the Ang Mo Kio central district where a blind lady busker sings well in Chinese to earn a living to put food on her table?

There is also an elderly man who stands and plays the harmonica at the Toa Payoh bus interchange in the evenings.

The writer should also visit the bus stop near the Orchard MRT where an elderly Chinese male makes a living by playing the saxophone.

Foreign students don’t have it easy either – as they have to pay high fees for their education here, transport, along with their daily expenses.

Music is a great stress reliever, its therapeutic, and students need an avenue to unwind.

So. let's learn to be a more caring and gracious society and give people the opportunity to earn some money and be a part of our vibrant culture.

Besides the National Arts Council. I propose that our buskers – both local and foreigners, get invitations to perform regularly at events organised by the grassroots leaders at community events.   

In closing, perhaps Miss Tan may want to open her heart and find jobs for our buskers if she is adamant that they should not use busking as a day job.


Raymond Anthony Fernando

Friday, April 13, 2018

Opinion piece: Live a life of no regrets

While reading Sean Wee’s love for his grandmother and Patrick Chua’s love for his mother who lost the battle to cancer, I was moved to tears of their unconditional love to their relatives (Send a message from beyond the grave, last Sunday April 8,2018, The Sunday Times).


Often, we find it awkward to reveal our heartfelt feelings to those whom we care about deeply.  Perhaps it’s our Asian culture that restricts us from being so expressive.  


Feelings of fear, uncertainty, denial, anger, guilt, stress, anxiety, loneliness, isolation, sadness and depression are all a normal part of the cancer experience.


Sharing our emotions helps to release any anxiety we may be having. It can also help improve communication between people, and to this end, I applaud former broadcast engineer Philip Tay in going public on his battle with dual cancer.  Tay is a brave man who now has the golden opportunity to express his true feelings and love to his daughter once he passes on in ZinniaAfternote’s Time Capsule through the combined efforts of Chua and Wee.


Knowing that a loved one has cancer gives the caregivers ample time to make advance plans and choices, that includes making a will and this service is also provided by ZinniaAfternote.


The reality is that life on this earth is only temporary and as a family, as a community, we should all endeavor to live a life of no regrets – more so when life is so unpredictable. Bottom line: Do as much good deeds as we can so that when we eventually pass on, our conscience will be clear and we will have no fears whatsoever.


The choice is ours to make.  


Raymond Anthony Fernando






An opinion piece to The Singapore Government: Full time MPs in a better position to help the vulnerable : By: Raymond Anthony Fernando

It is troubling to read two newspaper reports of 29-year-old Muhammad Nurizam who was sentenced to 15 months’ jail last week for committing a host of offences including sexual crimes in the Tanjong Pagar area, “Serial offender jailed 15 months for theft, obscene acts, molestation”; April 11. 2018, The Straits Times and “Man jailed 15 months for theft and sex offences, The New Paper, April 11, 2018).


Criminal Legal Aid lawyer Mr Melvin Loh informed District Judge Mathew Joseph that Muhamad who had lower than average IQ, has a history of major depressive and exhibitionistic disorders.


In passing sentence, Judge Mathew Joseph displayed much empathy and called on the social welfare authorities to look into the repeat offender’s case.


It is a known fact that an ‘idle mind is a devil’s workshop’ and sadly, desperate times leads to people who lack support to resort to desperate measures.  Without key social support, lack of love and feeling isolated, I am not at all surprised that Mr Nurizam has to grapple with depression. More so when he was abandoned at a young age and had to sleep in the void decks.


This is the grave situation which many sufferers of mental illness struggle with every day of their lives. In addition, many lonely seniors are grappling with loneliness and their lives are in jeopardy.   


Thus, it is crucial that unflagging support comes from the community and government agencies.  We just cannot turn a blind eye to the vulnerable in our society. More so when the government leaders repeatedly give the assurance that they want to build an inclusive society where every citizen matters.


Perhaps it is time for our Members of Parliament (MPs) – both from the opposition wards and the ruling PAP party to go full time, rather than serve part-time. All MPs, including the Mayors and their grassroots leaders need to go on regular walkabouts to stay in touch with their constituents, to better understand ground sentiments. 


There are many elderly and sick residents and the mentally ill, who are unable, for one reason or the other, to attend the Meet-The Peoples’ sessions and those who are in a position to help must find it in their hearts to walk alongside them.


When the elected MPs are out of touch with the ground, more social problems will set in and this is happening – time and again.
Without my sounding superstitious, Friday 13 brought bad luck to me today. I went out to post office and forgot to turn off the fire on the cooker where I was cooking. Seems I am becoming very forgetful of late. The gas was on for two hours, and I’m sure my PUB bill will go up. My pots that I usually cook with had to be thrown away as it was badly burnt. (See sample of the picture I took). Fortunately, the Lord must have been watching over my home or my flat would have been burnt down.

It is just as troubling and a really sad state of affairs that my numerous cries for help has gone unnoticed.  And it is not that both my MP and Mayor are not aware of my grave situation.



Raymond Anthony Fernando


Monday, April 9, 2018

Updated 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.  


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Raymond's press letter to The Straits Times: Start fund to help low-income group find jobs

 My press letter on the above matter to The Straits Times is published today, Saturday 7th April 2018.


Having a national conversation to find ways to help low-income Singaporeans will be useful (Call for ideas to help low-income Singaporeans; April 2).

It is estimated that by the year 2020, Singapore is expected to have a total of 188,000 millionaires.

The government with the support of these wealthy people in Singapore and philanthropists could set up a fund that could provide support to lower-income Singaporeans.

This fund can be used to help this group of people find jobs or provide them with a monthly allowance of about $200 to S300 to help them cover their meals and another $100 for transport until such time they are able to find a job.


Raymond Anthony Fernando


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Initiatives to support lower-income Singaporeans: A public suggestion to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong & the Singapore Government

I share the view that it is useful to convene a national conversation to find ways to help lower-income Singaporeans (Call for ideas to help low-income Singaporeans; April 2, 2018, The Straits Times).

It is estimated that by the year 2020, Singapore is expected to have a total of 188,000 millionaires, an increase of 18%.  The government with the support of such wealthy people, philanthropists and Members of Parliament could set up a sustainable fund to provide that much-needed support for lower-income Singaporeans to empower them, and in the process, lift them out of poverty with dignity.  Those who are successful need to consider ‘paying in forward’.  

I suggest we name it, the National Low-Income Fund (NLIF). Through NLIF, the government can help find jobs for this group, providing them with a monthly allowance of anything between $200 to S300 to cover their meals and another $100 for transport until such time when they get a job.

Many needy Singaporeans have hardly any friends because the reality is that when you are poor, you become isolated, you are deprived of recreation and you worry about when your next meal gets on the table.

With a total of 89 MPs alone and based on their monthly allowance of $16,000, if all of them voluntarily contribute $500 a month, in one year the NLIF will have a sum of S534,000 to provide some financial support for the lower-income group here.

Separately, it is rather troubling to read of the on-going squabble between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his two younger siblings (Hsien Yang: Mr Lee’s wishes not correctly represented, April 4,2018, The Straits Times)

Both Lee Hsien Yang and his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling want Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes of demolishing 38 Oxley Road to be respected and fulfilled. 

Given that PM Lee has the unenviable task of building the 4th generation leadership, such on-going squabbles is unhelpful – real or imagined. Perhaps, some compromise can be made with the house demolished, the land sold with the half of the proceeds equally divided among the 3 siblings and the other half to be handed to the NLIF to support needy Singaporeans – if there are no objections from the Lee family.   

I know for a fact that Dr Lee Wei Ling is a very compassionate person as during her tenure at the Neuroscience Centre in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, she always helped the sick and the needy.  I urge her and her brother Hsian Yang to rise to the occasion, put aside their differences with their elder brother PM Lee, and give hope to all Singaporeans.

In working towards reconciliation, let us be reminded of the positive traits of the Japanese whom during his time, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew often admired: “When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” - Barbara Bloom-


Raymond Anthony Fernando