Thursday, June 9, 2011

New minister brings fresh hope for local cats

SINGAPORE, 6 June 2011: The new minister installed at the Ministry of National Development (MND) after the general elections last month, Mr Khaw Boon Wah, has brought in sweeping change to the local feline scene by promising to look at how the feral cat population can be managed without the use of culling.

Sharing that he himself
has pets, he said last Friday that he would "weigh in on AVA to seriously consider reviewing its culling programme for cats. Stray cats are a source of complaints in HDB estates but killing them is not the best way to go. The right thing is for cat lovers to own the problem, eliminate the nuisance created by irresponsible behaviour, and sterilise the cats to control their population. Where there are enough cat-lovers out there willing to own this problem, we can avoid culling in those estates."

Definitely a welcome positivity from a government official, this stance by the minister under whose purview the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) - the agency tasked with trapping and culling cats - falls, has signalled a move away from the age-old official position that the most effective management of cat population is systematic culling in 'problem' areas.

The unsolicited announcement has taken cat-lovers across the island by (pleasant) surprise with little negative reaction from the general public. The Cat Welfare Society (CWS) - which has for years lobbied for a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) as the most effective manner of population control - welcomed this fresh willingness to solve the problem at its root cause instead of treating the symptoms.

In a statement released yesterday, its Vice-President, Ms Veron Lau, reiterated that responsible cat ownership involves sterilising their pets, keeping them safely indoors, and taking effective measures to secure their safety in high-rise flats.
In fact, a facebook page created by the CWS to encourage cat-owners to 'come out' (of the proverbial closet) and openly share the existence of their cats living with them in their Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, has now gathered over 1,000 individuals (500 had joined within the first 24 hours) in just a few days.

Looking ahead, the CWS identifies education as the key and will seek to work with the HDB, AVA and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals (SPCA) to bring the message of responsibility to all cat owners. At the same time, CWS has renewed its proposal for a responsible cat management programme in HDB estates and is pushing for the reinstatement of AVA’s stray cat sterilisation scheme - where sterilisation of community cats was funded by the AVA - that was terminated in 2003.

Pointing to an active volunteer community at its disposal, the CWS revealed that there are more than 500 volunteers (or caregivers, as they are referred to among the cat-loving community) who spend their own time and resources over the years to sterilise community cats, educate people in the community about responsible cat management and ownership and individually work with local Town Councils to mediate and resolve complaints. In extreme cases, these volunteers have also sometimes taken it upon themselves to help cat owners sterilise pet cats so that future problems of pet abandonment can be avoided.

This position of the CWS is not new however, and is something the group has been advocating and working towards since its inception in 1999. What has clearly changed is the receptiveness of the government agencies - under the fresh leadership of Minister Khaw. Many animal welfare proponents are very encouraged by this open-minded approach to this issue and much positive change is expected to ensue.

Hot on the heels of this revelation by Minister Khaw, Chong Pang constituency, will officially unveil its Animal Welfare Programme on 18 June. Having organised Singapore's first-ever animal welfare public forum in collaboration with the Animal Concerns, Research & Education Society (ACRES) on that day, the details of the Chong Pang Animal Welfare Programme will be revealed during the forum. A notable component of the programme though, is the end of the culling of cats in the Chong Pang constituency in favour of humane cat management.

Indeed, the Animal Welfare Forum has attracted much interest and is largely anticipated to be a groundbreaking event for the local animal welfare scene. Members of the public are invited to participate and share their views on the issue, with representatives from the various agencies, such as the local Town Council, AVA, SPCA and CWS.

The Public Forum on Animal Welfare Policies will be held at Chong Pang Community Club (21 Yishun Ring Road) on 18 June 2011 from 2pm to 5pm. More details are available from the facebook event page created by the ACRES team.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Campaign to save dolphins from becoming entertainers at Sentosa

SINGAPORE, 4 June 2011: In just one week, the number of facebook users who have joined the campaign to persuade Resorts World Sands (RWS) to abandon its intention to display 28 dolphins caught from the wild has ballooned to over 7,000.

Entitled Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins, the campaign has been coordinated by the wildlife rescue group ACRES (Animal Concerns, Research & Education Society) which has been actively working towards enabling the captured dolphins to be released back into the wild where they belong.

Between December 2008 and December 2009, 27 dolphins were captured near the Solomon Islands and transported to 2 training facilities located at Langkawi, Malaysia, and Subic Bay, the Philippines. However, the appalling care and facilities at Langkawi led to 2 of the captured dolphins to die in October, 2010, as a result of bacterial infection, forcing RWS to transfer the remaining dolphins at Langkawi to Subic Bay as well - footage obtained later through an undercover investigation by ACRES officers confirmed the poor and unacceptable conditions of the facility.

On 27 May 2011, ACRES launched this unique awareness campaign to encourage all animal lovers to create videos or take photos that portray the message to stop dolphin captivity and petition against the decision by RWS to bring in these dolphins for entertainment. In addition, it is hoped that the popular support against using dolphins for entertainment and as profit-generating commodities will convince the government to step in and put a stop to RWS' intention to bring in these dolphins altogether.

While the animal activists have cited scientific fact and produced empirical evidence to illustrate why the dolphins should not become installments of the Integrated Resort (IR) at Sentosa, RWS has been hardpressed to offer any convincing argument to support its decision to go ahead with its unpopular plan.

In fact, the man whose company sold RWS the wild-caught dolphins, Chris Porter, has since ceased this business. Although he was considered the world’s biggest dolphin broker, he is now questioning the value of using such animals for entertainment purposes and keeping them in artificial environments that are a far cry from their native habitat. In a similar positive move, United Parcel Service (UPS), which shipped the seven dolphins from the Solomon Islands to the Philippines in 2008, said it would stop moving this kind of cargo as the practice violated its environmental principles.

In addition to these directly-affected parties involved in this particular case, a similar attempt by Mexico in 2003 to bring in 28 wild-caught dolphins for one of its attractions has resulted in almost half of them dying within a 5-year period. This unpleasant experience led the Mexican government to impose an outright ban on the importation and exportation of live cetaceans for entertainment purposes in February 2006.

The growing pressure from the community-at-large - not just animal lovers - seems to be too significant for RWS to ignore and may very well be powerful enough to reverse the negative actions that have taken place so far. But it will take every man, woman and child in Singapore to band together - and ACRES has provided an excellent platform through which this can happen.
Become part of the solution by visiting the official campaign website at, joining the facebook community for the campaign at, and submitting your own video petition to You can also educate yourself on the serious implications of capturing dolphins from the wild by reading ACRES' comprehensive report on the issue at

The Green Room becomes a true living food cafe

SINGAPORE, 20 May 2011: In a groundbreaking endeavour, renowned The Green Room has reinvented itself as a living food restaurant since May 20th, 2011. The dishes on its menu have been drawn up by highly-qualified Diana von Cranach (below), who has been trained at Cordon Bleu, operated a resort in Bali, and who has developed her own range of unique ‘rawfully good’ living food since 2005. Diana has been a guest chef at many hotels throughout the region and will be opening the first ethno-botanical restaurant Elephant Vert in Luang Prabang, Laos soon.

In the meanwhile, she offers her creations based on Southeast Asian flavours using plant-based combinations of fruits, vegetables, pulses, sea vegetables, herbs, spices, seeds, leaves and edible flowers. The dishes have been also balanced to ensure that all the essential enzymes and nutrients are included. And to illustrate the commitment to healthy and safest food, the ingredients used will be locally or regionally sourced, seasonal, pesticide and GMO free, wherever possible. The food will be complemented with herbal & flower teas and an assortment of carefully selected vegan wines, making it ideal for lunch, tea-time or even a quiet evening dinner.

Many in the vegetarian and vegan community are looking forward to visiting this wonderful combination of pleasing and calming aesthetics with delicious and innovative raw food and is certainly a welcome addition to the vibrant dining scene here in Singapore.

(Sweet & Sour Salad + Chaat Masala Dressing + Green Coconut Chutney)
Price: $12

(Herbed Cashew Cheese + Oriental Vegetable Macedoine + Green Olive, Gingerflower & Caperberry Tapenade)
Price: $16

(Wheatgrass Noodles + Fresh Herbs & Vegetables)
Price: $15

(Mixed Herbs & Vegetables + Dipping Sauce)
Price: $14

(Seasonal Fruit Salad + Peanut Butter & Caramel Vegan Ice Cream)
Price: $11

(Acar, Sweet Chilli & Lemongrass Salad + Curry Leaf Sambal + Papaya Pepper)
Price: $18

(Young Papaya, Pomelo & Goji Berry Salad + Red Massaman Curry Sauce)
Price: $19

The Green Room is open daily for lunch (11am - 3pm) and dinner (6pm - 10pm), and is located at Bishan Park 2, 1382 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1. You can place your reservations at 65561533.