MP Baey Yam Keng Tells Residents To Stay Calm, Look Away, And Speak Softly Around Stray Dogs
Becoming a MP these days is no easy task, especially when there will always be people ready to call you out against every action.
This was no different for Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng.
In an Instagram post by Mr Baey dated 11 Jan, he observed a group of stray dogs around Tampines, and advised residents to stay away from them for safety.
There have been increased sightings of stray dogs around Tampines Street 45 area. Tampines Town Council had received feedback from residents and reported this to the AVA. If you are concerned with stray dogs around your estate, please call AVA’s 24hr Animal Response Centre at 1800 476 1600. Stray dogs are generally harmless. So I would like to remind residents not to panic. Here are some AVA tips on what you can do when you encounter stray dogs. 1. Do not run, stay calm 2. Look away, do not stare at the dog 3. Speak softly, do not shout and make sudden movements to chase it away. If you need to, move away slowly. #TampinesNorth #straydogs
The post did not take long to trigger hundreds of people as they misunderstood Mr Baey’s warning as insensitive against stray dogs.
Warning wrongly interpreted as a lack of compassion for stray dogs
Perhaps, Mr Baey utilised a wrong choice of words?
People were generally concerned when Mr Baey suggested the AVA as a solution to curbing the increasing stray dog population in Tampines.
If you are concerned with stray dogs around your estate, please call AVA’s 24hr Animal Response Centre at 1800 476 1600
This advice, quoted from Mr Baey’s Instagram, coupled together with Mr Baey’s top three tips for avoiding dogs, gave off the impression that the MP basically suggested culling stray dogs.
Which is why people had very strong feelings against Mr Baey:
Others were equally concerned with the perceived stereotyping of stray dogs.
We wonder if these people actually read Mr Baey’s post, because he literally said that stray dogs are harmless.
Stray dogs are generally harmless.
Thankfully, Mr Baey did not have the nature of keeping quiet about issues and has swiftly responded to concerns.
Mr Baey reassures residents that dogs will not be harmed
In a subsequent post, Mr Baey re-emphasised that measures will be put in place to ensure stray dogs receive a better life than it could have before.
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.
Here are some key highlights in Mr Baey’s response, one of which clarified he was simply doing his job as an MP:
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.
He also reinforced that culling is only reserved for extreme cases.
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.
However, dog lovers were still unconvinced the stray doggos would be fine.
Not everyone is against Mr Baey
There are always two sides a story — including opinions on this issue.
Amidst the flak, a handful of people have stood by Mr Baey’s firm stance to enforce the safety of residents.
Some have pointed out that Mr Baey has the responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents. Otherwise – not only will he meet fierce criticism for abandoning his post – there will be no need for a MP in the first place.
To say that Mr Baey have no empathy for animals is certainly not the case here. If anything, Mr Baey simply prioritises his duty to his residents above anything else.
Also, given that AVA has protocols in place to ensure culling only occurs as a last resort, Mr Baey appears to be convinced that the stray dogs would not be inhumanely harmed. Hence, this ensures his residents are protected and their interests of protecting dogs are too.
Mr Baey just needs to convey that message better next time.