by Daniel Yap
I HAVE no particular love for chickens, unless they are cooked well. But in the case of the Sin Ming chicken culling, I was left clucking at the number of complaints it took to spur the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) into action: 20.
That’s over the course of a year, mind you. And it’s not clear if the complaints were from different people, or the same fella over and over again.
It’s a small number, given that cocks crow at least 365 times a year, and that there must be hundreds of households within earshot of one aspect of the kampung spirit everyone keeps saying we need more of. The kampung is truly gone for good.
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It brings to mind the Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) bizarre order to effectively shut down a zoning-compliant football school at Mattar Road over a mere five bellyaching residents. JSSL, the academy, were ordered not to let children (or anyone) play on weekends and after 7pm on weekdays. As a result, hundreds of children had their classes affected, and a football academy had to move out while rents (charged by SLA) stayed as high as they ever were.
And it wasn’t even kampung football – it was one of Singapore’s largest football facilities, 2.5 hectares all design-approved by the G.
Meanwhile, dogs urinate and defecate all over my neighbourhood and my grouses go unheard. I think I need to rally four other neighbours to help alter our reality. Or was it 19? Can someone provide me with clarity about the golden number I need to hit to get things done?
I’m confused. Some petitions garner hundred or thousands of signatures and go completely unheeded. There doesn’t seem to be any consistency for how much angst I need to generate to move the G’s hand. Perhaps it’s a question of which hand I’m trying to move. It seems that SLA and AVA are pliable while ministries are harder to convince.
In 2012, a nursing home to be built in Bishan East drew the ire of residents, but a petition with 40 signatures failed to put a dent in the Health Ministry’s plans. In 2008, some 1,400 residents of Serangoon Gardens signed a petition against a foreign worker dormitory to be built in the estate, but the Ministry of National Development allowed the dorm to open anyway. I suppose chickens are easier and cheaper to remove.
Or is it that they had wanted to cull the chickens anyway but found it convenient to pin it on upset residents? I can’t tell. AVA says that it will take action whenever it receives complaints about noise.
You know, there is this koel bird in my neighbourhood… Could I get AVA to kill it for me? I kid.
There is, however, a perfectly valid ecological reason for culling chickens – the preservation of the endangered red junglefowl. But that bird is said only to live on Pulau Ubin and in the Western Catchment Area, and culling for ecological reasons is the ambit of the National Parks Board.
So did the AVA really only execute the culling because a bunch of residents made noise (like the chickens did)?
It’s always been the G’s stand not to let a few noisy voices drown out the sentiment of the (oft silent) majority. You don’t want a handful of argy-bargy neighbours dictating the ebb and flow of community life. What’s happened now? Why doesn’t the rule apply to chickens and children’s football?
As soon as I unravel this mystery, I’ll form my army of petitioners and reshape the world in my image.
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