ENTERTAINMENT, PARTYING AND PETS IN SINGAPORE

PARTYING IN SINGAPORE

Over time Singapore has loosened up a bit but probably more in spite of government policies than because of them. David Lamb wrote in Smithsonian magazine in 2007: “Whoooa! Could this be the stuffy, somber Singapore I had been warned about? This tiny nation—whose ascendancy from malaria-infested colonial backwater to gleaming global hub of trade, finance and transportation is one of Asia's great success stories—is reinventing itself, this time as a party town and regional center for culture and the arts. "Prosperity is not our only goal, nor is economic growth an end in itself," says Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Translation: let the good times roll. Suddenly people are describing the city with a word that, until recently, wasn't even in the local vocabulary: trendy. The government has lifted its prohibition on bar-top dancing and bungee jumping. Cosmopolitan is very much for sale on the newsstands (though Playboy still hasn't made the cut) and sugarless chewing gum is available (with a doctor's prescription saying it is for medicinal purposes, such as dental health). [Source: David Lamb, Smithsonian magazine, September 2007]

Many Singaporeans like to party. Some talk about going to parties every night. The ban on bar top dancing was lifted partly because so many people did it anyway and the government was trying to keep pace with people were already doing.

Singapore has a surprisingly wild club scene with a lot of heavy drinking. Some clubs used to offer shots of tequila delivered in needle-less syringe by a waitress in a nurse uniform. Others have Djs flown in from Europe for a single gig. It is not clear exactly why Singaporeans party so hard. Maybe it’s because they can’t do any drugs, or possibly to let out some steam after long stressful hours in the office. Among main the most famous partiers was Nick Leeson (see Nick Leeson). In his case what’s a bar tab in the hundreds of dollars when you’ve lost billions for your company.

Regan Morris, who worked for AP for five years in Singapore, wrote: “My yard was often the venue for wild, all-night parties where Malays, Chinese and Westerners would swill tequila off giant blocks of ice, cutting loose perhaps against the many rules that governed them by day.”

Bartop Dancing Til Dawn in Singapore

In August 2003, a ban on bar top dancing as lifted. Describing the scene at an Irish-themed pub in Singapore’s Chinatown, Wayne Arnold wrote in the New York Times, “It was midnight...when a young woman clambered onto the bar, stood up amid the ashtray and cocktails and started shaking in her suede miniskirt to 2 Live Crew’s hip-hop sexual anthem Me So Horney.”

At this time, not only were people dancing wherever they wanted they also indulged in foam parties in which people in bathing suits and thongs and other minimal clothing danced in a giant bubble bath on the beach. But not everyone liked the changes. One lawmaker warned that people could get hurt and the dancing could inflame jealousies and bar room fights. “Some people will die,” he said. “Blood will be shed for the liberalizing policy.”

In October 2003, Revellers in Singapore were allowed to party all night in clubs and bars at hotels allowed to stay open 24 hours in three non-residential areas. AFP reported: “ However, the extended hours are limited to nightspots located within hotels at Sentosa resort island, Collyer Quay off the financial district, and Marina Centre near a convention centre. The three locations were chosen as they "do not have significant residential use or are not near to residential developments." Police said that about 45 entertainment outlets are expected to qualify for the 24-hour license from Monday. The statement said the police were still "open" to considering extending the business hours of establishments in other areas, but these changes will take place gradually. Aside from 24-hour nightspots, bar-top dancing was legalised on August 1 and bungee jumping is now allowed. Singapore's gay party scene is also gaining a reputation in the region. [Source: Agence France Presse, October 3, 2003]

Before the change, bars were required to close down by 3:00am and dancing was restricted to designated areas. One American told the New York Times, “Nightlife in Singapore is like having a party with your parents in the house. When the lawmaker objected to exuberant dancing on bar counters because the dancers might get hurt, a reader retorted in the Straits Times, "Please, the kids have grown up; the nanny can take a break now."

Singapore Spells out Rules for Bartop Dancing and Bans Pole Dancing

In August 2003, AFP reported: “Singapore may have allowed bartop dancing for patrons but paid dancers need a license from the police and must not mingle with customers. Police say that when dancers are paid to dance on bartops, they need to obtain a public entertainment license because the act is considered live entertainment, the Straits Times reported. Paid dancers also cannot mingle, chat or have drinks with bar patrons before, during and after their performance unless they have permission from the police licensing division, the report said. [Source: Agence France Presse, August 23, 2003]

To get police permission, the performer has to be endorsed by the Singapore Tourism Board. The board's endorsement can be given based on the nature of the performance, track record of the organiser and the perceived tourism value of the outlet or act in making the Singapore night scene more attractive. Pub owners described the rules as prohibitive, and argued that some of the paid dancers become patrons after their act.

"They cease to be performers after their performance. Some of them become patrons after their act and hang out with their friends, paying for their own drinks," Simon Lim, chairman of the Pub and Club Industry Panel, was quoted as saying. "Where do you draw the line?" he asked. Singapore this year decided to permit bartop dancing and bungee jumping as part of efforts to foster a more freewheeling lifestyle in the strictly governed society.

In December 2002, a pole dancing performance featuring scantily-dressed women was cut from a public concert in Singapore because it was "too explicit", Singaporean censors said. AFP reported: “The three-minute pole dance was banned by the Films and Publications Department just hours before the Tuesday night concert began. "The FPD felt that the opening segment of scantily-clad women pole dancing was too explicit and requested the organisers to tone it down," an FPD spokeswoman told the Straits Times. About 5000 people turned up for the show which featured a variety of performers including Taiwanese singer Hung Rong Hung. Previous concerts featuring women pole dancing in skimpy outfits have been issued a general licence by the FPD forbidding "indecent acts or vulgar gestures, actions or remarks." Organisers were also to ensure "the attire of the performers does not offend the general public". [Source: Agence France Presse, December 4, 2002]

Sex and Singapore’s Nightlife

Seah Chiang Nee wrote in The Star, “As Singapore strives to become an international city that can attract foreign talent and to become more competitive, it is forced to open up even more and faster. Bars and all-night clubs now flourish with bar-top dancing. Drinkers can order a “screaming orgasm”, “sex on the beach”, “blow job”, or “long slow screw against the wall”. Not everything is done to earn the tourist dollar. Much of it is to make life less boring for its own professionals, many of whom are migrating to “more interesting” places. [Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, May 30, 2004]

“The concept of Singapore as a lifeless city for yuppies is much less true today. Prostitution has spread and is catching up with the reputation of some neighbouring cities. There is actually a social need for it. Apart from seven million annual tourists, Singapore has about a million foreign workers, of which roughly 15 percent are professionals (including family members). The remaining 800,000 are mostly unskilled workers, including maids and a large number of some 600,000 labourers, young men who are either unmarried or who have left their wives at home. Their need cannot be wished away. It requires a sensible solution, which involved setting up “Designated Red-light Areas” (DRA) for prostitutes. Most are kept away from residences and minimises the likelihood of the women, who are mostly from China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, being underage, exploited or diseased.

Scattered all over the island today are about half a dozen red light districts. Top of the hot spots is brightly lit, lower Geylang Road, dotted with budget hotels and “love nests” (S$10 an hour) and roadside restaurants (good food). “Geylang is a large area where up to 200 girls from all over the region, a mini-United Nations, gather until pre-dawn,” he said. There are massage parlours with two-way mirrors and pink-coloured lights that measure up well to Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road.

Multi-Million Dollar Effort to Upgrade Singapore's Nightlife

The Singapore Tourism Board sees entertainment as a key sector that will help bring in 17 million visitors to spend S$30 billion by 2015. In October 2006, Channel News Asia reported: “Singapore is aiming to be the clubbing capital of Asia and this year alone, over $48 million has been pumped into the nightlife scene. The S$40 million St James Power Station will be fully opened with 9 different outlets. These include Movida - the word means 'party' in Cuban street slang - which will play live world music and Mono, a karaoke venue with plush interiors. Dragonfly will feature a medley of live Chinese tunes, R&B grooves and trance music while the Bellini Room is a Swing Bar. And if you are not already spoilt for choice, Lifebrandz, the company behind the Ministry of Sound, is investing over S$8 million in six entertainment outlets. Five will be at Clarke Quay, and Cafe Del Mar, regarded by many as one of the world's most iconic chill out bars, will be at Sentosa. [Source: Channel News Asia, October 16, 2006 ==]

“Calvin Sio, Marketing Manager, The Cannery at Clarke Quay, Lifebrandz, says: "What we are going to build up next is Hed Kandi's Kandi Bar. Hed Kandi is a dance brand, a very popular dance label. We've got Buddha Bar's B* Fly* which essentially is a restaurant and a bar from Paris. There is also an Italian restaurant called Bice which we are going to bring in. And of course, the very famous Fashion TV's Fashion Bar, FBar we call it." Dennis Foo, CEO, The St James, says: "In any industry, there must be competition, if there is no competition, there is no progress. There are a lot of professionals, managers, executives and businessmen who actually have nowhere to go - we created St James for them." ==

“When asked about the shaking up of the nightlife scene, Zouk's Marketing Manager Tracy Phillips said: "When these outlets first open, they will probably have a small impact on our business since it is only human nature that people would want to check out anything new. In the long run, we believe we do have a very loyal following who would eventually come back to Zouk. Also, getting more people to appreciate electronic dance music of all genres will only widen the slice of the pie in our once very niche market when we first started 15 years ago." ==

“Smaller establishments too say they are unfazed by the battle for the fun dollar. Michel Lu just opened Hacienda in Dempsey Road, an area fast becoming a choice location for the hip and happening. And even Little India has trendy clubs lodged between shop houses selling spices.

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p><Hai, Manager, Bar Baa Black Chic in Little India, says: "When you name brand names, they are branded for a reason - if assuming you don't have mainstream, you will never be able to get alternatives. I think people are perpetually looking for alternatives. The people that come here, you get producers, DJs, the media people." ==

“Alcohol companies are also toasting to the nightlife scene. Diageo, a global alcohol company, opened a S$13 million regional logistics hub in Singapore earlier in the week. The centre will handle 3.5 million cases of Diageo beverages in its first year, growing to 6 million cases in 2007 and 8 million in subsequent years. Diageo carries the Smirnoff, Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Baileys brands and others wines, spirits and beers. ==

“Champagne company, Moet & Chandon, says Singapore is its most important market in Asia. "Singapore is important because of finance, the power of Singapore goes beyond the country, so if you are strong in Singapore, you might also be strong in the rest of Asia." said Jean Berchon, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Moet & Chandon.

Singapore Allows Bungee Jumping and Attempts to Loosens Up at Age 40

In July 2003, Singapore said it would allow bungee jumping. Reuters reported: “Local media have reported that a New Zealand firm's application to run bungee jumping rides in Singapore, which were turned down in the 1990s on safety grounds, have been approved. "If we want our people to make more decisions for themselves, and if we are to encourage a derring-do society, we must allow some risk-taking, and a little excitement," Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said in a speech. "It is a bit like my allowing bar-top dancing...In fact, so changed is our mind-set that we will even allow reverse bungee." Bungee jumping, commercialised by a New Zealand entrepreneur, involves launching off a high ledge with a rubber band attached to the jumper's ankles. Recent versions include the reverse bungee, where riders are catapulted into the air. [Source: Reuters, July 13, 2003]

In 2005, when Singapore celebrated 40 years as a nation, Seth Mydans wrote in the International Herald Tribune, “The reverse bungee jumpers were out as always as Singapore celebrated its 40th anniversary, screaming into the sky and then, as the bungee cord pod reached the end of its powerful tether, hurtling back to earth. "The future is ours to make," stated bright banners in this tightly bound city-state, which has in recent years urged its citizens to be freer, more creative and more spontaneous as part of a business model for the 21st century.[Source: Seth Mydans, International Herald Tribune, August 10, 2005 ^^]

"We cannot stand still," said the new prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, as he announced plans for a casino in March. "The whole region is on the move. If we don't change, where will we be in 20 years?" That announcement brought with it an unintended sign of the future: a vigorous, unsanctioned - and ultimately futile - campaign of grass-roots opposition to the casinos. ^^

An editorial Tuesday in the Straits Times, the country's main daily newspaper, expressed the official mood of the day. "Go down to the National Day parade today or watch it on television," it said. "The affection for and pride in nation that will be demonstrated so avidly by participants and spectators is a reaffirmation of a love affair that is unique among young nation-states." On television, the official theme song for the anniversary was called Reach Out for the Skies. "At a time when hope was low the journey seemed unsure," the song says. "But through it all we've kept the flame alive. Now standing proud and tall, our spirit strong and free, building on hopes and dreams, it's here we want to be." And the chorus: "Let's reach out for the skies, with wings we soar up high. Our dreams we'll all achieve, we'll make our destiny." ^^

“At the alternative concert, Marcos Destructos offered a different message. "Hopelessness in our near and distant future," he sang. "Cynicism killed the idealist in me. Is that all that's going on in the world's engine? A society driven by the dollar sign." And his chorus repeated the phrase: "Is that all?" ^^

Amusements and Games in Singapore

In the early 2000s, 12,000 Singaporeans set the record for line dancing. Singapore also hold the record for longest human dominoes.

A yo-yo craze hit Singapore in the late 1990s, spurred in part by a visit by U.S. yo-yo master Hans Van Dan Elzen. The craze occurred in the middle of a recession when buying a $7 profession-class yo-yo was out of reach for many youngsters. The result was an increase in yo-yo thefts. For a time yo-yo thievery accounted for half of all shoplifting cases and this led to a 17 percent increase in crime.

“Wall refuge” is a run and tag childrens game played in Singapore in place where there are several posts, pillars or trees. A person who is It tries to tag the players. When a person is caught he or she must hold on to to a post. All other players who are caught have to line up behind the first player. Any player who is free may rescue the players touching the post, one at a time, by touching him or her. The last player caught wins the game and becomes the next It.

Yea String is a children’s game involving two teams and a string. The string is raised to higher and higher levels with players jumping over it each time it is raised (after waist level players can pull the string down with their hand). In the final step, Step 9, player coil the string around her their legs. If a player misses he or she is out but can be brought back into the game if another player makes it over all nine levels. Each time all the players complete Step 9 they receive one point.

Bird Singing in Singapore

Bird Singing Contests are held every Sunday in Thong Bahru. Bird singing is a competitive sport in Southeast Asia. The birds inside beautiful ornate cages sing wonderful songs. Bird fanciers gather at Wah Heng Coffee House in Tion Bahru on Sunday morning.

The Chinese enjoy bird singing competitions. Some of them pay large sums of money for rare birds and keep them in tiny ornate cages. The best birds cost as much as $2,000 and are kept in teak cages. Among the singing birds found in city bird markets are rose finches, plovers, Oriental magpie robins and Mongolian larks. It is very common to see Chinese with cloth-covered cages in parks taking their birds for "walks." Younger birds are trained by carefully placing them near older birds.

Keeping song birds has long been a favorite hobby of the rich and powerful in China. Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale The Nightingale is about an Emperor obsessed with the song of a nightingale.

Bird singing contests are often held on Sunday mornings, with the winners being the birds that can sing the highest number of different songs in 15 minutes. The country of Suriname is said to have the best singing birds. The bird are usually Twa-twas or Picolets and the record is 189 different songs by a bird named Flinto owned by Jong Kiem. Kiem told Reuter" "The best birds do what you want them to do...Sometimes the bird doesn't want to sing so you have to check where the problem is. You have to be very patient."

Pets and Fish in Singapore

In 2000 when Singapore had a population of nearly four million people there were some 35,000 licensed dogs and around 200,000 cats, most of them strays. There were no publicly run shelters, although several groups including The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are involved in animal rescue and adoption. SPCA data for 1998/1999 showed only 401 dogs and 219 cats were adopted, while 2911 dogs and 7266 cats were destroyed. [Source: Associated Press. Singapore May 9, 2000 \+\]

In some circles, Singapore is regarded as world’s capital of tropical fish. An estimated one in five Singaporeans have an aquarium and keep fish as pets. Singaporeans have long had a fondness for Japanese koi and strange-looking arowanas. Other fish come and go with fads and fashions. In the early 1990s, flat, circular discus fish were very popular. After that red parrotfish from Taiwan gained a big following. Arowanas can fetch as much as $30,000 a piece but are notoriously difficult to breed. They are native to the Amazon and Southeast Asia and can grow up to a meter in length and live for 60 years.

Luohan Fish

In the early 2000s, luohan, small brightly-colored fish with bulbous foreheads, became all the rage among ethnic Chinese in Singapore in part because they were regarded as good luck. The fish are named after the Eight Immortals of Chinese Taoism, which are regarded as very auspicious, in part because the number eight is regarded as lucky. Some luohan have markings that resemble Chinese characters and lucky numbers, making them even more sought after.

Luohan became so popular that they were featured in New Year’s cards and shops were opened that were devoted entirely to the fish. They sold tanks, food and other hardware necessary to keep the fish alive. Luohan with particularly auspicious and rare markings and coloring fetched as much as $40,000 a piece and theft of valuable fish were reported in the newspapers.

Luohan are the product of an artificial breeding effort in the Malaysian mining town of Ipoh. They first appeared in 1997. No one is quite sure how they were created or who did it but they are believed to be a cross between “feng shui” fish, or a “sparkling mamonon,” with a “redface monk.” They breed quickly, eat almost anything and no two fish have the same markings.

An ideal luohan is about six to eight inches long and has a body that is roughly one and half rimes long as its height. The face should be bright red and the fins and tail should be in good condition and be symmetrical. The forehead should be large but not grotesquely large. They only problem with keeping luohan is that they are very territorial and two of them can not be kept in the same tank without one tearing the other to shreds.

Ornamental Fish Trade in Singapore

Fish farmers in Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong for a long time dominated the freshwater tropical fish trade. In the late 1990s Singapore produced one third of the world’s pet guppies, tetras, goldfish, mollies, discus fish and other species. There were 69 ornamental fish farms in 2001, when Singapore exported $43.3 million worth of ornamental fish to 70 countries.

The lucrative fish farm business imports adult fish, makes them prettier and healthier and exports them a few days later with a high mark up. It imports fry (baby fish) from South America, Africa and other parts of Southeast Asia and raise them and treat them for disease in thousands of aquariums in giant sheds before exporting them. Some farms inject fluorescent die to give the fish color.

Qian Hu Fish Farm is the largest fish farm in Singapore. Listed on the Singapore Stock exchange, it earned a net profit of $2 million n revenue of $19.4 million in 2000.. The farm is owned by the Yap family, which got into fish in the early 1980s when the government began closing pig farms as part of a cleanliness campaign and they filled in their concrete pig pens with water and began raising guppies, Later the moved into more exotic but suffered a severe setback in 1989 when floods washed away their entire stick. In the early 2000s, the farm began sending its staff to the Amazon and elsewhere in search of new fish stocks.

Qian Hu Fish Farm expanded into fish exporting in the 1990s. Their first order, sent to Taiwan in 1990, was a disaster. All 4,000 fish were dead on arrival. This set back led to an advancement on the transportation of tropical fish. Before they are shipping the fish are not fed and the water they are in is gradually cooled down before they are re packed in plastic bag, The cooling slows their metabolism and lack of food keeps them from fouling the water. The system increased the survival rate of fish from 90 percent to 97 percent.

Dog Cafes in Singapore

Some married yuppies have expensive dogs instead of children. Some of these frequent dog-friendly eateries that offer mouth-watering dishes for pets and their owners. Huang Xueling wrote in The Strait Times, “Like all businesses, the pet-cafe one can also be a dog-eat-dog affair, but that has not deterred a newcomer to set up shop. Pawtobello, which opened in Mohamed Sultan Road in June 2007, is a Parisian-chic cafe with vintage furniture. The plush green sofa is from Denmark, the precious-looking chandelier is an antique from France as are the light pink rose-printed sofas. Humans get to eat dishes like Jamaican Grill Rib Eye Steak ($18.90) and Weiner Schnitzel ($13.90) while the doggie menu has items like Doggie Crepes ($3.50) and Chicken Roulade ($5). [Source: Huang Xueling, The Strait Times, June 18, 2007 /*/]

“Owner Alicia Yap, who is in her late 20s, says she had no qualms about leaving her previous job as a software engineer, which paid $5,000 to $6,000 a month. 'I'm single, I'm young. If I don't do it now, I'll never do it,' says Ms Yap, who invested more than $100,000 in the venture. She hired a chef with 10 years' experience in traditional Eastern European fare to cook for her human customers, and the dogs. To up her competitive edge, she has imported pet costumes, leashes and other trinkets from places like the United States, Australia and Korea to sell. Asked how business has turned out so far, she says: 'We just opened so we cannot really tell yet. But we do get quite a lot of customers without dogs coming in during lunch on weekdays.'' /*/

“About seven pet cafes have been unleashed on the public in the past six years. Going by what the owners of four of these cafes tell LifeStyle, the business does not seem to be lucrative, especially if food is all that it offers. Mr Phred Wong, 42, owner of the five-year-old Royal Petique in Sin Ming Road, readily admits that the main core of his business comes from the grooming service. 'This is why our pet-shop concept is a 3-in-1. It has a cafe (Munchies), grooming salon (Royal Petique) and a photo studio (Munch Media),' he says. He is making enough money to keep the business afloat, thanks to his regular clients. /*/

“Ms Gladys Leong, 27, owner of the two-year-old Worlds Apart Cafe in Kovan Road, has also learnt that running a pet cafe alone is not viable. She spent almost $100,000 to set up the business. She says she has made no profits so far and hopes to move to a bigger shop in Pasir Ris by the end of this month to offer extra services like a grooming salon and a pet bakery. Ms Koh Ying Ying, 25, who works at the nine-month-old Dogaholics in Serangoon Road, says business was bad in the first six months. But it picked up after the cafe gained a reputation for its homely and cosy atmosphere where dogs are allowed to roam freely. Still, she says, 'we haven't recovered the losses yet but it is on its way'. /*/

“Ms Raye Tan, 34, owner of Urban Pooch in Balestier Road which opened in November 2001, says you need a lot of passion to stay in the business. But she notes that it is 'definitely a growing industry since Singaporeans are getting married later and treating their dogs like their own children'. For now, she admits that she earns 'just enough for a salary', which is why she has to constantly think up new ideas to bring in more customers. Urban Pooch recently underwent renovations and she plans to sell supplements, juice, fruit and herbs for dogs with skin problems. As for more competitors snipping at her heels, she says: 'I don't mind it. I believe all the other cafes have their own strengths. So long as it's healthy competition, that's fine.' /*/

Rise in Abandoned Dogs in Singapore, Despite Laws and Implanted Microchips

Despite laws that too effect in 2007 requiring dogs to be licensed and implanted with microchips, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) received more lost dogs in 2008, even as the population of stray cats appears to be under control. Channel News Asia reported: The lsws, “which animal activists hoped would discourage pet dumping. But it did not stop the SPCA from receiving 1,162 lost dogs last year, a marginal increase as compared to 2007, according to its latest statistics. [Source: Channel News Asia, March 16, 2009 ~]

“The SPCA said in a press statement that most of the lost dogs were “pedigree or pedigree crosses and the majority had no microchip or identification”. Only just over a third was claimed by their owners. The dumping of such dogs — a concern the SPCA had flagged last year — continue unabated, with 1550 purebreds received. Mindful that some could have been lost pets, the SPCA reminds owners to microchip their dogs at veterinary clinics. “More importantly, they must license their dogs with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority for the microchip to be effective,” it said. Jack Russell Terriers, Maltese and Golden Retrievers were some common breeds surrendered or abandoned, as well as a “considerable number” of Huskies. ~

“The Society receives around 700 animals each month, with only two out of every 10 possibly finding new homes. The good news is that the number of cats coming through its doors has dropped by 13 percent - or 600 cats - year-on-year. The average number of cats taken in each month has also fallen from 500 to 300. Such a “significant change” was likely due to more stray cats being sterilised, the SPCA said. ~

“Since 1991, the SPCA has implemented a free voucher scheme under which it pays for the sterilisation of neighbourhood cats brought by volunteer caregivers to participating veterinary clinics. More than 2,000 vouchers were distributed last year. “Although the demand for vouchers always exceeds the supply, many community cats are being sterilised, which ultimately means the number of births should decline,” the SPCA said.” ~

Plan to Close Pet Shelter Upsets Singaporeans

A government decision in 2000 to close an animal shelter pushed normally reticent Singapore residents into signing petitions and threatening to chain themselves to the land. "Some people are going to chain themselves to the land if they try to take away the animals," fashion business executive Bernard Teo said. [Source: Associated Press. Singapore May 9, 2000 \+\]

Associated Press reported: “The government ruled that former owner and operator Raymund Wee, 52, must leave the farm housing his Noah's Ark Lodge by May 15 unless financial support is assured for his eclectic menagerie of 250 dogs, 250 cats, ducks, goats, a pony, a python, monkeys, a ferret and a civet cat. A group of ardent supporters petitioned President S.R. Nathan to ensure that no animals would die. \+\

“The animal refuge found itself at the center of a public maelstrom when Wee faced difficulty renewing the lease for the land, used without permission as an animal shelter. Animal lovers collected more than 40,000 signatures on an appeal to officials to let the shelter continue when the lease expired in February, but the government now wants these people to help pay for the animals they say they care about. Wee, who used grounds meant for commercial dog grooming and boarding to run the shelter, is heartened by growing support and what he says Singapore needs: a little heart and soul. "We are not teaching our children to care about the things that matter. What's the use of being so successful as a nation if we cannot learn to be kind to animals?" he said. \+\

“The farm is tucked away in a secluded corner of the country amid fish farms and nurseries, a rare spot in urban Singapore where 90 percent of the people live in high-rise apartments. Dogs roam freely, while there are enclosures for cats and a pond and wading pools for ducks and swans. A statue of Saint Francis, patron saint of animals, greets visitors, who are encouraged to come on Sundays. "Raymund will rescue the animals that even vets have given up on saving. He has done that again and again," said a civil servant who helps out at the farm, on condition of anonymity. She said Singaporeans buy too many dogs and cats, only to find themselves unable to cope and abandoning them soon after. \+\

Wee, who started the shelter seven years ago, says if he loses he will take his dream of an animal sanctuary somewhere else, perhaps to Malaysia. "I started this place to take in strays, unwanted and abandoned animals. How can someone else take my animals and be paid for it?" he said. Large or small, no species has been rejected at Noah's Ark and much effort has gone into saving and finding homes for domesticated animals. Wee says this may not be the same under the new operator of the officially approved dog kennel.

The government, which transferred some monkeys and other exotic animals to the zoo saying they were unsuitable as pets, said the closure of Noah's Ark had been misunderstood by the public since the land had been sublet illegally.

"Our approach to the care of animals has always been responsible pet ownership, whether you own your pet or have adopted a stray," Ngiam Tong Tau, chief executive of the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority, told a news conference. He said the AVA had sought the consent of the new operator to keep some of the animals on a paid basis, ensuring their safety.

But animal lovers, disappointed by the closure of the shelter, wonder what will happen to those without sponsors.

"We are all protecting endangered animals and here they are putting them down," said Betty Kok of those dogs and cats with little hope for adoption.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Singapore Tourism Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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