Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fear of failure

Eslina asked a question during this post a few days ago and it's been bugging me - why is it so difficult to get more support from the authorities for a TNRM programme?

So far, despite lack of official support, and in fact a 'no-stray' policy, the number of cats killed has been dropping - it's now half what it used to be. Can this drop be attributed to killing? It is highly unlikely because that number has not dropped despite more than 25 years of killing - it's always stayed at around 13000.

One could argue it's a blip in the data, but the numbers started falling a while ago - a few years after the SCRS was launched. We've always maintained that sterilisation is a medium to long-term method of population control, and we started to see that the number of cats killed started dropping - in fact, just before SARS hit. It went back up during SARS - but came down again. Now the latest numbers show that the number of cats killed has dropped to 6500.

Now I know some town councils will say that the reason this is so is that they have been more supportive of caregivers' efforts and try not to trap. While this may well be the case, I also seriously doubt that they would not trap if they were having insurmountable problems dealing with complaints. That has always been the agreement with every TC I know - that if a complaint cannot be resolved, the TC can (and will) go in and trap. I can only conclude that less cats plus better mediation is leading to less complaints and therefore less trapping overall. As a result, less cats are dying.

So the question remains - why aren't more efforts put into TNRM? With a relatively small cat population and caregivers who are already putting in their own time, money and effort, why not invest MORE money and make a concerted effort to sterilise our community cats? I've said it before, and I think it bears repeating - Singapore is small. We could well manage the community cat population in a more effective and humane way. I don't see being a No-Kill nation being beyond our reach.

So why the reluctance? The reason, I believe, lies in the fact that the people who get to make these decisions are afraid of failure. Singapore always has to be Number One - but we don't want to be the first to do it. Look at the F1 Night Race, or the Casinos as two recent examples. We want to be able to point at other countries who have already done it, and then try and perfect what they've done. There's merit in that of course - but it's the same reason we will never be innovators. You can't be truly entrepreneurial or visionary without having failed along the way.

So what will it take for us to embrace failure? Maybe we need to also realise that being Number One isn't as important as being a pioneer. Let others perfect being a No-Kill nation - but for once, maybe we can be the trail blazers, even if it means that along the way, we might fail.


Anonymous said...

Singapore is about being #1 + making money. Some SGeans know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Cats have much value in life but no price; you can't buy happiness when you spend time with a cat :)

Dawn said...

Exactly :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you entirely. Too much emphasis on quick results and cost-benefit analysis and trying to impress. Being innovative and creative is daring to be different from everyone else and being prepared to not succeed once in a while.

skyow said...

By some measures, the Singapore government's record is littered with failure: they just refuse to admit it. So there really isn't much to lose by supporting TNRM - we were never really #1 anyway.

Dawn said...

That's a good point - now how do we sell that idea? :)

Anonymous said...

TNRM will succeed if there are people committed to the welfare of the animals at A*A. Those in charge are concerned with resolving complaints of community/abandoned animals by culling (fastest result). It has been a quick-fix for decades. You need someone with committment to be able to effect a change for animal welfare - not animal control.

Dawn said...

It's never made sense to me that animal control sort of 'oversees' welfare. The two should be completely independent.