Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim (Sengkang): Thank you. I have two quick supplementary questions. The first is to obtain the assurance from Senior Minister of State that the standard operating procedure is that the first resort is for mediation, rather than slapping the violators with any kind of fine. And I mention this because, I recall, as a child, going through experiments where you would hatch chickens from eggs and you would keep them in the flat while they grew and we do not want to penalise young children and students who are conducting little experiments in this fashion.
The second question has to do with whether the Ministry has thought about what happens when there are community chickens and in particular, roosters and I mentioned this, because in Sengkang, we had incidences of reports of community roosters. And as you can imagine, no one necessarily lays claim to these roosters. Does NParks then intervene to assist the Town Council in managing early rooster crowing?
Mr Deputy Speaker: A last word on the matter, Senior Minister of State.
Mr Tan Kiat How: Yes, I am surprised there is a fair bit of interest around chickens today. On Assoc Prof Lim’s first supplementary question, indeed – we do not resort to fines and enforcement penalties as a first resort. Often, if it is a community case, we do want to bring the different parties together, especially the advisors with the grassroots volunteers, the community leaders and the neighbours to come together to talk about it and see how we can come to an accommodation, especially about chickens in private residential properties.
There is no intent to go after any students or anyone who hatched chicken at home. That is not the intent. First and foremost, I would like to reiterate that from NParks’ point of view, it is really about public health, safeguarding all of our health, especially when it comes to zoonotic diseases. And secondly, whether the animal is treated well or there is abuse or cruelty – the issue of animal welfare.
On Assoc Prof Lim’s second supplementary question, around the community rooster, perhaps I could seek a clarification from Assoc Prof Lim, just to understand a bit more where he is coming from and the specific case he cited in Sengkang, because I am not familiar with it. Is it something you are supportive of – to have the community rooster, but for it to be better taken care of, or are you asking NParks to come and do something about the rooster?
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: Just to clarify, in the end, as you can imagine, in the community situation, there are those that are pro-rooster and anti-rooster. As it turns out, in the end, the rooster was removed. But I am wondering whether NParks has standard advice for this kind of situations.
Mr Tan Kiat How: Just to clarify, Mr Deputy Speaker, the rooster was removed by NParks?
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: I believe it was by the Town Council in collaboration with NParks.
Mr Tan Kiat How: Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank Assoc Prof Lim for the clarification. I think he reflects the tensions that we all face as advisors and as Members of Parliament on the ground. Different segments of the community, different segments of our residents, have different desires and preferences. And oftentimes, as Government agencies, we do want to work with the local advisors and in this case, the Town Council to see how we can amicably resolve it.
Removing the rooster may be one option but there are many other ways of finding ways of accommodating. For example, if it is about rooster crowing – some roosters crow even when the sun is not rising, thinking that the sun rises because of it, we can consider managing the noise by relocating the rooster or the case of private estate homes, to encourage owners to cover the pen with a cloth, so that the roosters do not crow or fight with each other.
There are many ways to tackle the issue. Ultimately, the assurance that we give to our members of public and our residents, is that we want to work together with them, different segments of community. At the end of the day, it is about our home, our neighbourhood, and we want to see how we can work together.
Ministry of National Development
9 November 2022