Singapore — There’s a new member of Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin’s family — a cute little black-and-white kitten.
What’s even more touching is that the kitten is a stray that had been taken in by one of the Speaker’s friends.
The “newest edition (yikes…! Addition!) to our family!”, is named “黑白 or Black/White”.
Mr Tan said in delight: “We have adopted this little rascal and he is a real lively bundle of joy!”
He added: “Always adopt strays when you can!!”
The Speaker answered simply: “We should.”
Others agreed with the sentiment.
At present, cats are not allowed in flats. According to the HDB: “They are generally difficult to contain within the flat. When allowed to roam indiscriminately, they tend to shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas, and also make caterwauling sounds, which can inconvenience your neighbours.”
The matter has, in fact, been tackled in Parliament by MP Louis Ng (PAP-Nee Soon GRC), a well-known advocate of animal rights being the founder of Acres (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society).
Last December, Mr Ng wrote in a Facebook post: “I do think it is time to review the rule of not allowing people living in HDB flats to keep cats. I’ve spoken up about this for many years and will raise this in Parliament. Let’s debate this.”
This year, he has spoken on the issue in Parliament on three occasions.
In October, Mr Ng wrote in a Facebook post that he had met many residents who in fact kept cats in their HDB flats. “This is the reality. Many many many people keep cats in HDB flats. We have a rule that we do not actively enforce. Why then do we have this rule?
“I spoke up about this in Parliament today and urged MND to amend the Housing and Development (Animals) Rules to reflect what we already accept in reality — that residents are allowed to keep cats, which can be removed if found to be causing disamenities to the community.”
He was told by Mr Desmond Lee, the Minister for National Development, that the ministry would review current guidelines. Mr Lee added that he was himself a cat lover who had adopted four strays in the past 15 years.
Support for Mr Ng’s endeavours has reached across party lines as well. MP Raeesah Khan (WP-Sengkang GRC) said publicly last month that cats should be allowed in HDB flats in a Facebook live session sponsored by Hope For Animals, a non-profit voluntary animal advocacy group.