The abridged version of the letter from Daisy Chee to the Straits Times was published by the Straits Times on 19 July 2011.
For non-subscribers, the full version is below:
MND’s Positive Step For Animals
Less than a month after the first animal welfare forum in Singapore , the Ministry of National Development (“MND”) announced on 11 July 2011 that it plans to form an inter-agency task force to review current pet ownership and stray animal management policies. This is testament to the success of the forum organised by ACRES, as well as MND’s leadership in addressing public concerns by constructive dialogue.
The review will collaboratively involve different stakeholders ranging from senior officials of MND to residents. This is a departure from the way policies were previously developed and represents a clever move towards public engagement and therefore more informed policy-making.
What is particularly progressive for Singapore is MND’s “ultimate objective” of creating “a conducive shared living environment for everyone.” Implicit in this is MND’s appreciation of the significant role that animals – strays or pets – can contribute towards a happier and more liveable society.
MND’s stance is supported by medical research which has shown repeatedly that animals confer numerous health benefits for humans. In many situations, when human interactions fail, animals have succeeded in treating those who suffer from depression, anxiety and aggression. The joys of interacting with animals can provide ill people with a greater desire to recover and perhaps continue to live. For others, animals help them feel less isolated and insecure while reducing stress and blood pressure.
Animals can therefore dramatically enhance the quality of life and happiness in a world which can at times feel like a war zone. It is therefore imperative that we appreciate the presence of these wonderful creatures. Like us, they are emotional beings that can love and feel pain. And when we use our intellectual or physical supremacy to abuse them – whether by neglect, abandonment or torture – they suffer and cry as well.
In fact, animals’ inability to communicate their suffering in words imposes on us humans a higher moral obligation to discern their cries for help and seek redress on their behalf. In other words, we need to be their voice!
Mahatma Ghandi once said that the true nature of a community is revealed in the way it treats its animals. While early days, MND’s express commitment – to have an extensive review of our archaic pet-ownership and stray management policies – represents a positive and critical step. Hopefully, we can look forward to enjoying a more humane Singaporean society.