Birds shitting in food at hawker centres

From ‘Growing bird population is worrying’, 15 March 2018, ST Forum

(Ng Boon Soon): The increase in the bird population in Singapore is causing too much inconvenience and creating health hazards. Judging from the frequent bird encounters at hawker centres, coffee shops and canteens, the bird population has increased substantially.

It is not possible to order food and leave it unattended on the table.

Recently, I visited a hawker centre in Farrer Road and was shocked to see two mynahs perched on the metal rail directly above a stall owner cooking noodles.

My immediate concern was of bird droppings mixing with the food.

Another encounter was at Serangoon Garden hawker centre. We had some difficulty getting a clean table because many tables and seats were stained with bird droppings. When we asked the cleaner to do something, he said he had already cleaned the same table and seat many times.

Recently, when I visited my daughter at her primary school, I saw bird droppings on the tables and benches as well.

I believe the cleaners have done their job but the situation is happening too often. I am worried about the health of the children.

Something needs to be done.

In Orchard Road, one can hear the loud chirping of birds and see their droppings on the pavement. It is sad to see such an ugly sight in Singapore’s iconic shopping belt.

The Government needs to start a working group to resolve this persistent problem.

Yes, evil hovering mynah birds are a threat to national security, more so than disinformation, deliberate falsehoods and fake news. But it’s not just bird poop that’s causing everyone distress, it’s the way they sound in the morning, especially the call of the Asian koel. Not only are our children exposed to the risk of accidentally eating birdshit or getting infected by pandemic bird disease, they get distracted from their schoolwork because these tiny flying bastards make too much noise.

You want proof?

If we don’t set up a Committee of Avian Management to Safeguard Public Health, this is the scenario we’ll be facing, one that no SG secure or anti-terrorist drill can save humanity from.

Yes, students will be chased out of schools, their scalps and eyes pecked at by beaks sharp as machetes. Do you want to see this happening to our tourists in Orchard Road, their hair soaked white with shit and their eyeballs plucked out of their sockets as easily as these flying demons pulling worms out of the ground? Zombies in trains are nothing compared to this calamity.

Maybe this is an elite mastermind at work, someone who has deployed an army of birdie minions to hawker centres to poison us lower social economic status (SES) folk. Or maybe all this rampant shitting is their way of avenging the culling of their chicken brethren by AVA.  Let’s get rid of them all then. The crows, the pigeons, the koels, the two mynahs staring at us eating at hawker centres, even the fucking peacocks in Labrador Park. Let us have our walks in peace, without having to worry about shampooing our heads with Dettol thereafter or listen to their terrible twittering that sends chills down our spines, their chirpy conspiring to end the human race once and for all, to bring back the age of the dinosaurs from which they all descended from.

How about this, AVA? Installing a scarecrow in public areas if you don’t want to call in pest control. I know the perfect effigy, one with the face that will send a thousand crows scattering into the sun.

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Asian koel too noisy

From ‘Better solution for noisy birds?’, 13 Dec 2017, ST Forum

(Lim Chye Hai): In recent months, my estate Tanjung Rhu has seen an increase in the population of Asian koels.

These birds’ powerful calls can be heard early in the morning, before dawn, and throughout the day.

I called the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority to highlight this issue two months ago. Its response was that the Asian koel is a protected species, so the agency can only prune the trees to remove the crow’s nest, where the koel lays its eggs. The problem has persisted without improvement to this day.

The birds’ calls have become a nuisance, especially when they start as early as 5am. The well-being of residents must not be compromised. Are there other effective ways to contain the Asian koels’ population?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EZ66v4T7Zw

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
                                                     –  Blackbird, the Beatles

For the sake of the ‘wellbeing’ of residents, stray chickens have been culled and pigeons are lured with poisoned bait (that end up killing curious dogs on a stroll). We complain about snakes invading our premises, wild boars terrorising children, yet conveniently forget that we are the ones tearing down forests to build estates and shopping malls and chasing our feathered friends out of their nests.

We bemoan a sterile concrete jungle yet make demands on the authorities to regulate the ‘powerful’ cries of a bird. Our steel offices are infused with greenery yet we view mating calls as a nuisance detrimental on our ‘wellbeing’. We think we can handle nature but in the end we still retreat to the snug comforts of our bed, huddling over our gadgets, gushing over our nature-themed wallpapers and pretending that the calls of the wild do not exist. Our 8 hours of sleep is paramount. More important than all the birds in the sky and all the worms in the earth.

The writer should be grateful that all he gets is a premature alarm. Some residents get pythons sneaking out of toilet bowls and trying to eat their pet birds. How about monkeys raiding your pantry. Would you rather deal with your neighbours’ shitty singing, or kids running amok in the void deck with their e-scooters or skateboards. In fact, according to NPARKS, as a brood parasite that lays its eggs in crows’ nests, the Asian koel has a role in keeping the crow population in check. So if you are lucky enough not to have crows randomly attacking you, you probably have this noisy koel to thank for an intact scalp and eyeballs.

I would rather the jarring noise of a cuckoo bird, than one coming out of an empty vessel.

 

 

 

Culling animals to make space for humans

From ‘Make no apology about culling animals if needed’, 4 Feb 17, Voices, Today

(Douglas Chua Hock Lye): From otters in Bishan to wild boars in Pasir Ris to fowls in Sin Ming, Singaporeans now see more animals invading our already-constrained living space.

Pet-lovers are clamouring for tolerance and advocating protection for these animals, while those who detest animals are putting up with noise pollution and nuisance, and have safety concerns.So where do we draw the line between protecting animals and accepting them as part of our lives, and eradicating them totally because they have no relevance to us?

I readily admit I am not an animal lover. I am also not an animal hater. However, if these wild animals turn on us with aggression and harm us, as crows did at Pasir Ris last month — attacking people — we cannot turn a blind eye and pretend all is part of nature.

As it is, space is scarce in Singapore. For some, going for a jog means the possibility of encountering a wild boar, for instance. Animals will be animals. Do we want to read about someone being attacked by a wild boar before we decide to act?

We need to find a balance to please all parties, and the culling of animals, without bringing them to extinction, is the best option.

Culling is done in other parts of the world whenever an animal population poses a threat to humans. In the end, the safety of Singaporeans comes first, and we must make no apology about reducing the size of these animal populations when it is necessary.

In the 1930s, if there was a report of a mad dog with rabies running around biting people, the animal would be readily “DESTROYED“. These days, the nasty business of animal control is crouched in euphemisms like ‘culling’ or ‘management’, which takes away the sting of what we’re really doing; Killing animals for our own selfish reasons, whether it’s crow-shooting with rifles or putting chickens down ‘humanely’ via euthanasia.

Take the Harambe case, for example. An artificially created space for a wild animal ‘invaded’ accidentally by a human baby. Human judgement decided that shooting the gorilla dead was the best call. Likewise, we dictate how much is too much when it comes to roaming strays, though the fact that Singapore is so land-scarce is no one’s fault except our own. And the animals, the sudden ‘invaders’ of that realm we call civilisation, are paying the price for the progress of our own making.

Experience shows that culling is NEVER the best option. MP and animal activist Louis Ng questions the effectiveness of AVA’s culling of 630 monkeys in 2015. Despite our best efforts, rats continue to plague food establishments. ACRES has even declared that culling is ‘not an internationally endorsed practice‘ and may even be unethical. We are not ‘pretending’ that being attacked by a pigeon is ‘part of nature’. It is, in fact, nature’s response to HUMAN nature. We also can’t predict how culling would affect other flora and fauna. To target a specific animal without due consideration of its impact on biodiversity betrays our lack of understanding of how nature works at all.

Culling of shitty human beings, on the other hand, which is what our judicial courts are already doing to murderers, or what military assassins do to terrorist leaders, would do more good for the world than culling any animal that’s remotely capable of goring a random jogger to death.

So ‘animals will be animals’, and humans, being the worst animal of them all, will still be incorrigibly, ruthlessly, arrogantly, ignorantly – human.

24 noisy chickens culled by AVA

From ‘Culling of 24 chickens in Sin Ming ruffles feathers’, 2 Feb 2017, article by Toh Ee Ming, Today

As a debate flared up yesterday over free-ranging chickens that were put down by the authorities in the Sin Ming area, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) revealed that it received 250 complaints islandwide on free-ranging chickens last year, and they were mostly about noise-related nuisances caused by the birds.

…The authority also disclosed that it put down 24 chickens that were wandering around Thomson View and Blocks 452 to 454 Sin Ming Avenue, after getting 20 complaints last year from residents there, also mainly about noise.

Responding to queries from TODAY, the AVA added that the free-ranging chickens that are sometimes seen on mainland Singapore are not red junglefowl — an endangered species — though some may resemble them.

“Free-ranging chickens can pose a potential threat to public health, especially if their population is left unchecked. There is a likelihood of an incursion of bird flu into Singapore, as bird flu is endemic in the region,” the AVA said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GZJeplKV18

According to the AVA’s own FAQ,

It is rare for the bird flu virus to be transmitted from chickens to humans. Of all the bird flu virus strains, only the H5N1, H9N2, H7N7 and H7N9 (Shanghai 2013 strain) strains have been known to pass from chickens to humans.

Unless you’re the kind of sick pervert who sneaks up behind cockerels and sodomises them, the chances of anyone getting exposed and infected by bird flu from stray chickens is, by AVA’s own admission, rather low. So how is this poultry-cide even justified? Using this public health argument, these chickens are being put down with the same nonchalance as one does fogging to get rid of mosquitoes.

There was a time when chicken-stealing was a thing. With the demise of kampongs, having the occasional cock around serves as a nostalgic reminder of how simple life used to be. Now, with the authorities chick-hunting in response to complaints, all we have left to wake us up in the mornings is the metallic grumbling of the MRT train nearby.

So the weird neighbour with the noisy parrot that squawks ‘Fuck the PAP’ all day gets to keep his fowl-mouthed pet; while the free-as-a-bird chicken responding to nature’s call is slaughtered for being a nuisance and an indeterminate carrier of pathogens. Add one more bird to AVA’s kill-list, which also includes pigeons, but not crows (NEA) or mynahs (nobody’s business).

Thanks a lot, Sin Ming residents, now that the python in the woods has nothing to feed on, we have to be prepared to find them swimming around in our pools more often, waiting for a treat in the form of a juicy, plump baby perhaps.

Stray chickens spotted in Singapore

From ‘Stray chickens spotted wandering around several parts of Singapore’, 22 July 2015, article by Lee Min Kok, ST

Singapore may strike some as a concrete city, but stray chickens have been seen wandering around various parts of the island in recent months.

A concerned member of the public living in the Stirling View and Mei Ling Road neighbourhood in Queenstown had wrote in to Stomp recently to report several sightings of chickens in the neighbourhood.

She had highlighted the issue to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the town council, but attempts to catch the birds were reportedly not successful. Stray chickens also appear to be thriving in the Fort Canning area.

According to Mr B. L. Koh, who goes on regular jogs in the vicinity, stray chickens can be spotted at three locations – near the Fort Canning Hotel, the Central Fire Station on Hill Street and the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple along Tank Road.

Unlike other flying birds like pigeons, crows and mynahs, chickens don’t shit on our cars or heads, and neither are they legally considered ‘pests’ that need to be culled. In fact, one particular species with a glorious flaming red comb is known as the Red Junglefowl, an endangered species. If there’s any ‘concern’ by the complainant it’s probably paranoia over bird flu, in which case, he or she should also sound the alarm on every flock of pecking pigeon that you can find in almost every neighbourhood. ESPECIALLY WITH LITTLE CHILDREN CHASING THEM ABOUT OH DEAR GOD!

In 1983, an ST forum writer lamented about his missing cockerel in the Chip Bee estate, whose ‘strident’ morning cry would bring some ‘kampung’ vibe to an otherwise staid concrete jungle, Mother Nature’s alarm clock that would make you arise with a smile rather than stumble about shit-faced grumpily reaching for the snooze button. The cock’s crow was welcomed as the ‘sweetest of nature’s melodies’, a sound that’s all but extinct today. Without cocks, we’d have to settle for the shrill buzz of crickets and lizard chirps, a creepy-crawlie orchestra to soothe our senses against the barrage of chugging engines, MRT trains and neighbours banging goddamn cutlery early in the morning.

Others didn’t take too kindly to the constant crowing, though. Still, it’s not like these chickens are grazing around HDB flats to the annoyance of humans. They’re not bothering anyone, not picking at leftovers in a hawker centre, or charging at little children, not attacking your Sheng Shiong plastic bag of groceries, so why the fowl mood? Aren’t we supposed to be a ‘City in a Garden’, where you can find the occasional otter family, monitor lizards, Lyssa zampas or even an owl in the Istana?

That video of chickens frolicking about on a grass patch was strangely therapeutic, and pity that some people fail to appreciate the simple joy of animals running wild, and complain to the authorities with a cock-and-bull story that we’re facing a chicken epidemic. Imagine an AVA officer chasing a squawking bird and failing miserably. Now that will go viral – I’m cocksure of it.

Rats on a hill near Bukit Batok MRT

From ‘Rat infestation near Bukit Batok MRT’, 17 Dec 2014, article in CNA

A rat infestation has been spotted in the vicinity of Bukit Batok MRT station. Simulation system operator Ryan Keith, 33, is a longtime Bukit Batok resident, and recorded a video of the rat infestation on Tuesday evening (Dec 16), at the hill just beside the train station.

“I was there for about 10 minutes and I think I saw more than 50 rats,” he told Channel NewsAsia. “This spot is near to many eateries, and rats can breed very quickly and bite through wires, so I am quite concerned.”

He said he has approached the National Environment Agency (NEA) about the problem, and they told him that “they will look into it“.

Channel NewsAsia understands that this is a plot of state land under the management of the Housing and Development Board (HDB), as an agent of the Singapore Land Authority. Channel NewsAsia has approached the HDB for comment.

It does not bode well when an agency says they will ‘look into it’, when they really should be saying ‘we’ll send someone down before someone gets bloody typhus’. At press time, both agencies are waiting for the other to issue ‘statements’, by which time another litter of rat babies would have already been born feeding off scraps from a discarded, oily Old Chang Kee plastic bag. Opposition parties contesting in the ward should be taking notes, because this is the best evidence available if you ever decide to call Bukit Batok constituency a shameful ‘slum’.

In this case, it appears that the buck is being passed to HDB who owns the vermin-infested land. When dead rats were found floating near the Merlion in 1972, the Ministry of Environment directed a complainant to the PWD (Public Works Department) and then the Health Ministry, before redirecting him back to the original contact. Well if only we had grass-cutting coordinator MSO to sort things out back then!

In our reputedly ‘spick and span’ Garden City, you still find these resilient little bastard critters invading shopping malls, fast food joints, hawker centres, HDB drains, or on the MRT. Even the food we eat is not spared. You could find pieces of rat in even roti prata with mutton curry.  In the fifties, people bought hunting cats to take matters into their own hands during a rat epidemic. Today you find rats as large as cats themselves, and the reason why cats are not doing their job is because they’re being over-fed, mutilated by humans, or being rounded up to become cuddle accessories in some cat cafe, where they spend their confined days staring out of the window depressed, fantasising about all the big fat rats they could maim and eat instead of entertaining shitty humans over tea and biscuits.

Well, if even stray cats and dogs are terrified of this marauding menace, there’s only one option left to resolve this issue. Release the PYTHON!!

Update: The NEA, AVA, Jurong Town Council and HDB issued a joint statement the following day blaming the rat infestation on people feeding stray dogs, while a pest control team was deployed to wage war on the rat army, an operation with the cheesy sounding name of ‘Rat Attack’ that drew excited crowds as if they were witnessing a SWAT team in a terrorist hostage situation. Kudos to the Star Pest Control team for braving the rain to subdue the pestilence. These guys have their own Facebook page, which features grisly photos of massive insect nests if you’re into that kind of thing. Their logo, strangely enough, includes a rat with a Elvis hairdo. Still, glad to know someone out there gives a rat’s ass about public health.

MBS food court chicken rice stall infested with cockroaches

From ‘NEA to take action against Marina Bay Sands stall for cockroach infestation’, 11 Oct 2014, article in CNA

The National Environment Agency (NEA) will be taking enforcement action against a chicken rice stall at the foodcourt at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) for cockroach infestation.

In a statement on Saturday (Oct 11), NEA said it has found cockroach infestation at the stall in the 1983 – A Taste of Nanyang foodcourt. The foodcourt has voluntarily closed since Tuesday evening (Oct 7) for cleaning and pest control treatment, in the wake of customer complaints and photographs of cockroaches that went viral online.

…The 1983 – A Taste of Nanyang food court is located at the South Promenade of The Shoppes at MBS and is run by Koufu. Other branches can be found at Changi Airport Terminal 1, JEM, Republic Polytechnic, ITE Ang Mo Kio and the Nanyang Technological University.

When Facebook user Kovit Ang posted his image of a troop of five roaches ready to attack pieces of fried meat, he did weight-watchers all over the country a huge favour. Now if you find yourself having a ridiculous craving for chicken rice between meals, it helps to recall that horrific photo, feel the surge of bile up your throat, and switch to an apple and a protein bar instead. But before one tars all Food Republics, Kopitiams and Koufus with the same brush, remember that one of the reasons why food courts exist is because people wanted to avoid pests like stray mynahs and, in the case of the recently shut down Ghim Moh Market, rats living in up to 71 burrows.

Not much is mentioned about the significance of ‘1983’ in the Koufu website other than a story that suggests the origin of nasi lemak at Malacca Street. It wasn’t that far from ‘1983’ when Singapore had its very first ‘food court’. Scotts Picnic in Orchard, established in 1985, was supposed to be an ‘upmarket’ hawker centre, where patrons could eat in air-conditioned comfort. A string of food halls with the same dining concept and similarly snazzy titles (Food Paradiz, Food Palace) followed suit, but within 3 years owners were reporting slumps in takings, with complaints that the air-conditioning made oily smells cling to one’s office attire. This despite attempts to install roman columns and chandeliers or employ a live DJ to spin the latest 80’s hits.

The food court idea was meant to be an improvement of the existing hawker centre infrastructure, a culinary ‘renaissance’ so to speak, for the busy office worker in the heart of town. Today, with a near patriotic resurgence of hawker culture, these places have been reviled by food lovers all over, not so much for the hygiene or stubborn oily smells, but because it’s the only place where you’ll get charged $8.50 for chicken rice, cockroach or no cockroach, that tastes mediocre, if not downright terrible. There are exceptions, of course, though seeing a Hokkien Mee seller in a food court wearing a straw hat doesn’t mean the dish is any good.

Food guru Dr Leslie Tay is all too familiar with how the food court subletting system compromises the quality of one’s cooking, himself declaring that he would never visit such a food court if he could help it.  Koufu Sentosa has even found itself listed on Lonely Planet, the nadir of the evolution of the food court from hawker centre upgrade to campy tourist trap. The operator has even masked its hydra arms in various guises, calling its Star Vista branch in Buona Vista ‘Kitchen’, among others including ‘Gallerie’, ‘Rasapura’ and the ultimate, ‘GOURMET PARADISE’. The only thing ‘nostalgic’ about 1983’s Taste of Nanyang after this roach incident is how it suddenly reminds you of the conditions on board the overcrowded boats our migrant forefathers arrived in, like in ‘The Awakening’.

But if you’re a Koufu devotee and still believe that the cockroach incident in an iconic building is an isolated incident simply blown out of proportion, maybe this photo below, snapped at Koufu HDB Hub Toa Payoh circa 2011, will change your mind not just about the franchise, but chicken rice forever.

The menu at Koufu has gone beyond ‘exotic’