Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Observe how they treat their "lessers"

MY PAPER - VIEWS
21 Aug 2007

By Jason Woo, Content Producer, CND New Media

A recent visit to a vet confirmed my beliefs that Singapore is a very pet-unfriendly place.

I was taking my three-month-old kitten home after his second vaccination, and wanted to take a taxi a I was eager to get the little animal home.

As expected, taxi service and frequency in Singapore left much to be desired. It was off-peak hours (about 3pm) in a largely residential area (the clinic is at Whitley Road), but it was difficult to find a cab. But that is a story for another day.

After waiting for ten minutes, a visibly empty cab, with a bright green "Taxi" sign beaming on its roof, came along. I eagerly flagged it hoping that it would slow to a stop. To my relief, it slowed down.

What happened seconds after that left me infuriated and indignant. The cab, which had slowed, suddenly sped up and left, apparently after seeing that I was holding a pet carrier case!

You can imagine how that bristled me.

I would have ignored the incident if it was an isolated case, but it has happened to me a fair number of times!

Another time, my wife and I were trying to return two cats to their original owner, after we found that we were not suitable adopters. After waiting for several minutes, and more than a few disgruntled grumblings later, a cab appeared.

We opened the door, only to be met with an expeclamation from the driver: "Har, you got a pet ah? Cannot, cannot."

I tried hared to control my less-than-subtle feelings of irriation. "Pleases, you've got to make an exception. We need to get these cats home," I said.

After a few minuts of haggling, the driver agreed to let us in, but not without stressing that it is not his fault that the taxi company forbids them to transport animals.

This got me thinking: We may have one of the best transport systems in the region, but we lack compassion and flexibiity. Are we so caught up with our own successes that we ignore the other aspects of life?

I have encountered this problem not only with taxis. I understand that buses cater to a wider spectrum of passengers, and that it may be prudent to reject animals as there may be passengers who have allergies to animal fur. But i fail to understand why the cab companies here turn their noses up at pets?

Does it mean that if I choose to have pets, I should make sure that I have a car too? This is downright ridiculous.

Pet-unfriendliness in Singpaore extends beyond transport companies to the individuals. I have seen some people exhibit irrational fear and disgust towards creatures so much smaller than themselves.

I have seen young boys who kick their balls towards harmless stray cats and dogs. These animals would have given the children a wide berth if given a choice, but do not have such privileges.

I have seen parents egging their children to chase after and terrorise strays; even pets are not spared in some cases.

Is this the kind of values that we want to pass to our future generations? Even writing about this makes me fume.

I have always believed in this adage: If you want to know the true colours of a place or a people, observe how they treat their "lessers".

Is is sad to say this, but Singapore still has a long way to go.

3 comments:

KXBC said...

I had never had any problem getting a taxi to ferry my charges, except for once.

SBS buses too are okay. The bus captains don't even bother since they see that they are in secured carriers.

=^..^= said...

I've had numerous experiences of cab drivers making a fuss about animals in carriers so I totally know what the writer means! But thankfully, my mum can be very 'persuasive' so we usually don't get stranded for long.

I think Singapore has a long way more to go to reach the standards of animal kindness, or even tolerance for that matter, that are apparent in other countries. I think one contributing problem as well is that there are many pet owners in Singapore who aren't considerate and end up giving a bad name to everyone else. Failing to adhere to the law about muzzling (excuses of it being cruel is really no longer valid as there are many muzzles now that in no way inhabit or restrict the animal as the old-fashioned ones do), not picking up litter/wastes left behind by them and their pets, not being considerate and instead being rude to people who are fearful or aren't allowed to interact with some animals on religious grounds, are just some. On the other hand, there are also many who are just simply mean and unreasonable and unloving towards animals and animal-lovers. It takes two hands to clap, really. And there are individuals contributing to the problems on both sides.

I think in short, the government should just scrap their Speak Good English/Mandarin campaigns and instead have a "Practice Kindness, Compassion and Respectful Tolerance" campaign!

~The Flyer

xy (zj) said...

i too surprisingly never had trouble getting cabs while holding a visible carrier as well.
taxi drivers ever told me that their company said if the animal is secured in a carrier they should pick up that passenger, but when the animal (e.g. dog) is just on a leash or in owner's arms, they can choose whether to accept the customer or not.