Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MP Koo Tsai Kee to retire

Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, 56, has confirmed that he will not be seeking re-election.

Four-term MP Prof Koo, who is Minister of State for Defence, broke the news of his impending departure to his grassroots leaders and branch activists in Tanjong Pagar GRC over the past week, said PAP sources.

The Colombo Plan Scholar, who is on the civil engineering faculty of Nanyang Technological University, was first elected in Tanjong Pagar GRC in 1991.

Since then, he has served residents in two wards in the GRC: his own Tiong Bahru ward as well as Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's Tanjong Pagar ward, where he stands in at Mr Lee's Meet the People sessions.

In 1995, Prof Koo became a parliamentary secretary. He was promoted to Senior Parliamentary Secretary in 1999 and to Minister of State in 2006.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Truncated from the report MPs Koo Tsai Kee and Ong Ah Heng to retire, By Elgin Toh, the Straits Times (30th March 2011)

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Straits Times : Pick favourite spot for heritage trail

The Straits Times
By Jeremy Au Yong
11th March 2011

Residents can soon nominate key areas of communities to highlight their unique identities

RESIDENTS will soon be able to nominate their favourite old local hawker stall or mamak shop in their neighbourhood as a heritage site, in a move to create more heritage trails to highlight the unique identities of communities across Singapore.

Mr Lui Tuck Yew, the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, said yesterday that the Government will work with residents, schools and grassroots leaders to 'identify important areas in their communities, mark them as heritage sites, and incorporate them into new heritage trails'.

'These could include places of worship, cultural institutions, famous businesses and even hawker stalls,' he added.

The step is being taken as part of a multi-pronged approach to foster a sense of belonging among Singaporeans.

Mr Lui announced this effort in his reply to Madam Ho Geok Choo (West Coast GRC) and Nominated MP Calvin Cheng, who both voiced concerns over how a recent influx of foreigners might impact Singapore's national identity.

He also stressed that the increased presence of foreigners had not shaken Singapore's identity.

'On the contrary, I believe they have enriched it. We must remember that we are a city built by immigrants from distant lands. As the Chinese saying goes: Hai na bai chuan, you rong nai da - an ocean is great because it accepts all rivers flowing into it.

'Likewise, we should, as we have in the past, welcome those who want to contribute, weather ups and downs together, and weave their unique cultures into our social fabric.'

He added, however, that Singapore must encourage its people to think and talk about what made them Singaporean.

He highlighted many of his ministry's initiatives aimed at doing just that. At the heart of these efforts was getting ordinary Singaporeans involved in fostering this national identity.

Just as it would work with the ground to identify heritage sites in the neighbourhoods, his ministry also wanted to equip communities with skills and funding to develop their own heritage activities.

The Singapore Memory Project, started last year to capture national memories, similarly wanted personal stories from the people. So far, it has received contributions from more than 40 community and institutional partners.

This year's Singapore Arts Festival will also have an eye on national identity. It's theme is I Want To Remember, and will feature an interactive People's Exhibition at six venues islandwide. It will piece together videos, photographs and other mementoes, contributed by people, of old performing places such as the National Theatre and Great World.

Another festival - the Singapore Heritage Festival - will, for the first time, bring its opening and closing events into the heartland. The festival uses performances and exhibitions to raise awareness of Singapore's rich heritage.

But Mr Lui's speech was not all about preservation. One section was devoted to an aspect of Singapore's national identity he hoped to change: lack of graciousness.

While pointing out some government campaigns, he noted that what was more crucial was for every Singaporean to try and make kindness part of their DNA.

'While we have made progress over the years and particularly so during the occasions when the spotlight is on Singapore, we can do more to bring kindness and graciousness into our daily lives,' he said.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Regarding Bob.....

The Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre has written in to give their version of the sequence of event and to clarify how much their charges are in relation to the seemingly exorbitant fees that was incurred while treating Bob.

This is their email:

Bob presented to Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (MPVC) on 26/1/2011 for a wound on the right inguinal region (lower abdomen).

He seemed otherwise well and there was no other medical complaint brought up by the care takers.

The care takers couldn’t give us accurate history regarding possible trauma.

The wound was clipped and cleaned. Carers were counselled on possible seriousness of the wound and treatment discussed.

Bob was discharged after administration of long acting antibiotics.

Topical wound care medication and painkiller medication was given to be taken after discharge from the clinic.

The carers were given instructions on wound management.

Bob presented again on 4/2/2011 at After hours Emergency Centre (AEC) for passing bloody urine, not eating well and straining to urinate.

Bobs bladder was very large and he could not urinate.

X-ray and ultrasound were performed and treatment was commenced to relieve the blockage.

Bob was transferred to MPVC from AEC on 5/2/2011 for further treatment.

The carer felt Bob could not urinate properly due to stress of the hospitalisation and requested for discharge on 7/2/2011.

The carer wanted to try outpatient treatment to give him more freedom.

We agreed to the carer's request and the Bob was discharged with instruction of very close monitoring and warning of possibly severe consequences if he could not urinate well.

Bob was presented again on 9/2/2011 for being unable to urinate.

The carer reported that Bob was eating ok until the day of presentation.

The carer also noted Bob was straining hard but was unable to produce any urine.

Further examinations lead us to the diagnosis of ruptured urethra in the region of the neck of the bladder.

The severity of the condition and treatment options was discussed in depth with the carer twice and the senior surgeon also spoke to the carer regarding the various treatment options.

The carer declined all the treatment options and requested discharge to seek second opinion at Namly Animal Clinic where surgery was performed.

Bob was discharged on 11/02/2011.

As the original article was not clear on where the exorbitant charges were incurred, the cost of treatment is summarised below:

26/01/2011 MPVC $152 for skin wound.

4/02/2011 (during the CNY holiday period) AEC $1327.40 for urinating blood.

5/02/2011-7/02/2011 MPVC $ 584.80 for subsequent management.

9/02/2011-11/02/2011 MPVC $284.65 for revisit when the diagnosis of ruptured urethra was made.

Total amount $2348.85

Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Straits Times : Finding purrfect cause in a stray

The Straits Times
By Fiona Low
5th March 2011

Tiong Bahru residents rally round to pay their favourite feline's vet bills

Books Actually has set up a donation box for Bob's veterinary bills and the vet has waived $8,000 of his fees. -- PHOTO: TERENCE YEUNG

A STRAY tabby, a familiar sight on the streets of Tiong Bahru in the last two years, has become a rallying point for the community there.

Bob, as the grey feline is known in Eng Hoon Street, has seen three vets and undergone four operations, running up $20,000 in veterinary bills. Residents and shop owners in the area are passing the hat around to pay these bills. Already, Dr Jean-Paul Ly, who performed the last two operations, has waived $8,000 of his surgical fees on hearing the cat is a stray.

With the rest of the medical bill still outstanding, Books Actually, the neighbourhood bookstore in Yong Siak Street, has set up a donation box. The kitty - no pun intended - now has $1,800.

Bob came to the area two years ago and started charming everyone. It began following design-school lecturer Terence Yeung, 40, and his wife home, and spending some nights with them.

Residents say the cat recognises people, and runs up excitedly to those it knows.

Human resources director Jean Fung, who is in her 40s, said: 'He's comfortable around people and friendly - not at all like your typical aloof stray cat. It's hard to explain, but he's very charismatic.'

Bob also likes following other residents around and right into their cars, just for a ride in the neighbourhood.

The feline went missing for a few days earlier this year, and when it showed up again, it had a gaping abdominal wound.

This was what started its medical problems. The vets Mr Yeung took it to at first treated it as a skin wound from a cat fight. But it did not heal. Subsequent visits to vets brought diagnoses ranging from bladder cancer to kidney failure, until Dr Ly found its bladder torn from its urethra.

Emergency surgery has since fixed that, but Bob is still in hospital, recovering.

Even Dr Ly sees the X-factor in the cat. He said: 'Every now and then, you find an animal so incredible. The whole hospital fell in love with him, we could not turn him away.'

For more information, go to

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bob - A Street Cat that glued a community together.

Bob - A street cat that glued a community together.
This is a story about a seemingly common street cat that has an extraordinary ability to bring a community together!

Bob was reported missing around the end of January 2011 and emails and FaceBook messages were flying around cyberspace, appealing to everyone to keep a lookout for Bob.

Within four days, Bob was found badly injured along Eng Hoon Street by resident Jerelyn.

Initially, Bob was thought to be scalded by hot water by some cat abuser lurking within the estate. But to everyone's relief, that turned out to be false.

However, the fact remained that Bob needed immediate treatment as the wound has become gangrenous.

The 1st vet at Mt Pleasant Animal Hospital gave a very hasty diagnosis despite having X-rayed Bob and opined that Bob was involved in some cat fight and a 2 weeks rest would do the trick.

A few days after, Bob did not seems to be getting better as he was still bleeding and pus was already forming at the wound. Bob also cannot pee and that was very unusual.

Bob's foster parents, Terence and Bella, quickly brought Bob to another Vet at the Namly Animal Clinic for a second opinion.

A surgery was done to remove the urine but Bob still wasn't getting any better.

The residents in Tiong Bahru, including those who are overseas, agonized over the Vet's recommendation to euthanize Bob to avoid prolonging his suffering.

Despite a seemingly hopeless situation, some suggestions came in through Facebook about getting in touch with a miracle Vet, Dr Lye, from the Balestier Animal Recovery.

Since Bob was running out of options, he was brought there in a last ditch effort to save him.

Dr Lye was quick to diagnose that Bob was most probably ran over by a car and his bladder has been displaced from the urethra.

And Dr Lye was very assuring as well. He promised that Bob will not be put to sleep.

So with the right diagnosis, the correct treatment could be administered.

Bob has to go through a few more gruelling surgery that also involves changing his penis to a vagina. (Read more about it in the dedicated FaceBook Page).

Besides human intervention, his fellow feline friend had to chip in by donating some blood to Bob.

Till today, Bob is not really up and about just yet but the vet says he should recover much faster in a familiar environment and the much needed love and care from everyone will aid the healing process.

If nothing goes wrong, Bob, the street cat who glued a community together for the past one month, will be back tomorrow in Tiong Bahru!

The residents at Eng Hoon Street has unselfishly given their time, effort, rest and sleep to rescue this street cat. It is now up to the rest of us to chip in whatever we can to help defray the $12,000 medical fees.

If you want to be part of this in a meaningful way, please check out the details at this facebook website : The Story of Bob - a very special cat or hop on down to Books Actually.

If you prefer to transfer money via the internet, an account has been set up.

Here's the details : DBS SAVINGS 008-5-051623

Please email to after you have transferred and do indicate the amount.

For cheque donations, please email to that email for details.

Your generosity will go a long way here and the residents at Eng Hoon Street will be grateful for making this rescue possible and meaningful.

This community effort to get Bob back on his feet will go a long way in making this close knitted community even closer.