MP Baey Yam Keng's warning on stray dogs in Tampines sparks backlash

MP Baey Yam Keng's warning on stray dogs in Tampines sparks backlash

Baey Insta on dogs
Screengrab of Mr Baey's Instagram post about sightings of stray dogs around Tampines Street 45. (Photo: Instagram/baeyyamkeng) 

SINGAPORE: Member of Parliament (MP) for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng drew fire on Thursday (Jan 11) for an Instagram post warning residents about increased stray dog sightings in the neighbourhood. 

Mr Baey had shared a video of four dogs mingling in the rain at Tampines Street 45 in his post, adding that the Tampines Town Council had reported the situation to the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA) Animal Response Centre. 

He also advised residents who come across the dogs to alert AVA's Animal Response Centre and shared "tips" on what to do should one encounter stray dogs. 

Not long after he put up the post, hundreds of comments flooded his page, with the majority of social media users questioning the MP's decision to involve AVA. 

One user known as Berryblob said he was "deeply troubled" by the post, which he described as "only contributing to mass hysteria". 

"We are the ones who robbed these harmless creatures of their natural habitat. We made them homeless and now we are taking their lives. Is this what the Tampines Kindness Movement is about?," said the user, adding that he volunteered at a local animal welfare organisation.

"I hope you're seeing all these messages and that you will acknowledge the issue publicly. Residents must be educated the right way," the user wrote.

Another user, Stanleyssn, said: "Why not educate people on how to deal (with) and take care of strays instead of making these strays sound so anti-social and vicious? As an MP, do you know what AVA will do when they catch the strays? Educate and not instill fear in the residents." 

"MY DUTY TO ASSURE THEM"

Responding to the comments, Mr Baey put up another post late on Thursday, saying that he felt "heartened" to know that there were so many people who cared for the stray dogs. 

He added that he had received the video clip from a resident and that the Town Council had received several emails asking for action.

"As an MP, it is my duty to assure them," he said. 

"I shared the AVA advisory so that residents know how to react and not cause undue distress to the dogs ... Residents’ safety is important and AVA as the national agency for wild animals has to be alerted."

Mr Baey also assured in the post that culling would only be administered as a "last resort", bringing up AVA's Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage programme. 

"Please be assured that Tampines does not support culling of dogs," he said. "We will work with animal welfare groups to foster and rehome these animals. If you know of anyone who can help, do let me know." 

I have gone through all the comments to my previous post and I’m heartened to know that there are many of you who care for the stray dogs. As seen in the video clip which I received from a resident, there are several dogs and some residents will be concerned (in fact, the Town Council has received several emails asking for action). As their MP, it is my duty to assure them. I shared the AVA advisory so that residents know how to react and not cause undue distress to the dogs. For example, if people start running away from the dogs, the dogs may chase them and give the wrong impression they are being aggressive. Residents’ safety is important and AVA as the national agency for wild animals has to be alerted. In Feb 2017, then SMS Desmond Lee said in Parliament that AVA takes a multi-pronged approach to manage the animal population and mitigate health and safety concerns. It first undertakes a professional assessment of potential threats that animals might pose to public health and safety. AVA will have to act if there significant health and safety concerns. Where feasible, it will work with stakeholders, including the animal welfare groups and organisations to relocate and rehome these animals. Culling is not the first action and used ONLY as a last resort. In fact, AVA just rolled out a Trap Neuter and Release Program. Please be assured that Tampines does not support culling of dogs. We will work with animal welfare groups to foster and re-home these animals. If you know of anyone who can help, do let me know. Thanks.

A post shared by Baey Yam Keng 马炎庆 (@baeyyamkeng) on

Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng, who is also the founder of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, left a comment on Mr Baey's second post, thanking users for their input. 

"I too share your concerns about culling and I'm so happy that AVA will be rolling out a brand new sterilisation programme to manage the stray population," said Mr Ng.

"It has taken us a long time to achieve this, but a lot of changes have been made in the past few years and a lot of progress has been made. There is lots more to do and I will continue speaking up about this issue in Parliament. 

"I can also assure you that Yam Keng is equally concerned about the welfare of animals," he added.

Mr Ng also said in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia that the comments made by the public on Mr Baey's posts is a positive thing.

"I think it is always positive that people are speaking up and voicing their concerns. It shows they care and that it important for Singapore," he added.

Source: CNA/hs

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