Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Afternote Article for zinniaafternote.com: “Knowing you is loving you”




 
Dear folks,

Do take time to read my article on the above matter. Very touching and down-to-earth write up.

Thanks

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando
Feature Writer

 

 

When a loved one has passed on, relatives will have to start rebuilding their lives. What is so important is for family members to cherish and honour those who have left us. To keep their memories alive for the commitment and selfless support and love they have given to their families and the community who include their employers, co-workers and friends.

 

Every human body, dead or alive must be cared for and treated with reverence and respect. We are talking about people – those with families and friends, people who were loved and were loved.  We are talking about people who may have died through natural causes and people who have died prematurely, either through sickness or through unforeseen circumstances such as tragedies or accidents.

 

While an obituary will inform people of the passing of someone, here at Zinniaafternote, they fervently believe that it is so important to give some insightful peeks into the lives of those who have died, so that they will be fondly remembered.  Basically, to know the person and to love him/her. 

 

This brings to my mind a lovely song made popular by a pop group, The Teddy Bears, way back in the early years, entitled To know him is to love him”

 

The opening lyrics of this lovely tune go like this:

 

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do (and I do, and I do)”

 

True to every sense of the word, when we get to know someone, we can learn to love him or her.

 

Therefore, when we provide an afternote alongside the obituary, even people who do not know the deceased will be able to somehow or other have connectivity. And through connectivity, beautiful bonds can be developed – over time.

 

Cases in point are the afternotes which I wrote for both my wife and my sister.

 

For Doris, I have, and will always cherish her till the end of time as she had given me 40 best years of my life, and this is clearly documented in the afternote. For even when I pass on, anyone can still read and cherish the beautiful memories Doris and I once shared as a couple. And such memories will live on and on.  Doris had special needs and to a large extent, people will admire her for the love she has so unselfishly gave to me.  This can so easily spur others to cherish and care for their loves ones who will include their spouses or parents or grandparents.

 

In the same vein, I have honoured my only sister with an afternote, remembering Veronica as outstanding and model worker in the giant telco, Singtel where she worked for 35 long years. Additionally, her remarkable selfless dedication and commitment as the sole caregiver to my 95-year-old mother, Veronica can certainly be an inspiration to others to embrace caregiving as a noble job.

 

We have many unsung heroes in our midst who feel for the needy, but go unnoticed.  They do not crave for glory, but they do their bit to lift the human spirit – and that in itself is commendable.

 

I was chatting with my downstairs neighbour a short while ago and while touching on the subject of honouring the dead, I thanked him for the kindness he often shows to me. Let’s just call him “C.”  C looks rather stern, but he has a heart of gold.  I got to know C as I adore children, and he has two well brought up kids. They are polite and respectful and so is his wife.

 

C knows I enjoy reading the newspapers, but unselfishly shares The Straits Times with me every single day as he is fully aware that being without a full-time job means I have to cut corners.

 

C is in his own special way doing charity work by showing compassion, empathy and support to me as he knows that as a widower, I could do with some kind of support, even if it is for a friendly half an hour chit-chat.

 

There are many kind-hearted people like C around, and they all ought to be remembered when their journey ends.  On all accounts, zinniaafternote.com is the right platform to do so.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 


 

Monday, November 20, 2017

An awesome website in ZinniaAfternote




Dear readers,


Do take time to visit this beautiful website which I have collaboration with. I thank the Good Lord and my beloved wife for opening new doors into my life – bringing this new website and her owners into my life. Here’s where I have the opportunity to express my writings in a constructive and positive way.  And I am very uplifted!


I have placed my late wife and sister’s obituaries here to honour – both of them whom our families loved deeply.


I am also a feature writer here and you can read my articles here – every month.


What ZinniaAfternote believes in


ZinniaAfternote leads the social movement to empower people to freely express their emotions.


We believe that both written and spoken expression of tragic life events will aid emotional closure and improve the overall well-being. ZinniaAfternote will provide our community with indefinite access to live obituaries and drafting of wills without an expense.


We acknowledged that time is the only constant that allows us human beings to rationalize humanity.


Obituaries will be permanently stored in our SmartOrbit-Obituaries platform to enable users with unprecedented access to post, edit, and share heart-felt words for the deceased in the most private moments. Family and friends are encouraged to participate altogether; as in such difficult times, we believe that social support is essential for recovery from grief.


We will look deep into our society, sending missionaries to the far-reached communities to capture the greatest legacy stories of our time and publish on ZinniaAfternote.


We would like to extend our invitation to established pro-social organizations, public and private social support groups to join our efforts to promote a collective learning and overall well-being.


A beautiful tagline

Life is a book. We fill the pages.

@ZinniaAfternote




Happy reading & have a great day, folks😊  Do pass the word around. Thanks & God bless!

Sincerely,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Reduce train services during off peak periods; run buses parallel along MRT routes: A public suggestion to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan & the cabinet


From the desk of

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

15th November 2017



Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has set the right direction in showing his appreciation to MRT staff who work hard to run the rail network, but took to task the small group who did not carry out proper maintenance work that resulted in the Oct 7 underground tunnel flooding (“You deserve our respect and gratitude', Khaw tells public transport workers”; November 14, 2017, MediaCorp’s Today Newspaper).

 

What Mr Khaw pointed out is very true –  that in every organisation there will be a few black sheep, who, because of their poor work attitudes spoils the reputation of the company. Rightly, so as opined by the transport minister, these unproductive workers should be identified and counselled to improve themselves or they would have to leave the organisation.

 

Public sectors officers can help make the lives of our citizens better

 

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean who is also the minister in charge of the civil service has recently reminded public sector officers to fine-tune policies so that the public can be better served. This is timely given that many Singaporeans are in dire need of support. I am glad that DPM is listening to feedback, some of it which comes from me – be in through my press letters, my emails or proposals on my blog. I will continue to provide constructive feedback and useful suggestions as an active citizen so that Singapore can be the BEST home to live in.

 

Everyone from the community, whether they are from religious bodies, neighbours, relatives, schoolmates, grassroots leaders and advisors have to do their part to lend support and rally around the needy.  Much more has to be done in this area.



More engineering hours need to fix MRT woes


The Transport Minister has mentioned that more engineering hours will be required to rectify the ageing rail assists which has to be upgraded quickly (“Comparing Singapore's newest and oldest MRT lines”; November, 14, 2017, MediaCorp’s Today Newspaper). He is spot on!

 

With the school holidays commencing next week, it will be timely to undertake the intensive maintenance work.  

But safety must be a top priority when transporting thousands of passengers every day. SMRT staff also need to work in a safe environment.

A collective prayer for MOT Minister, injured passengers and for SMRT & LTA staff to overcome problems

I have full of empathy for our Transport Minister, the SMRT staff & the LTA staff. All work extremely hard and it is a very demanding job to get the trains running on time and efficiency. I was therefore deeply saddened to get news today that 23 passengers were injured and had to be sent to hospital after an MRT train collided with another at Joo Koon station.

Let’s all join hands and say a collective prayer for the injured passengers to recover quickly and also for the SMRT to overcome any problems coming on-stream – and for all of them to succeed in the maintenance work.  

Shut down train services for 2 - 3 hours

Given that it has now become necessary to undertake what appears to be somewhat of a critical maintenance, perhaps the train operating hours can be cut to say 2 to 3 hours either on weekends or 3 times during week days, during off peak periods when people traffic is relatively lower. But we also have to take into account that given the rainy seasons in November to January, maintenance work may be held back during heavy downpours. 

As practically all Singapore and foreigners are heavily dependent on the MRT trains for their transport needs, reductions in train operating hours could be carried out at different MRT lines and at different times.

To ensure that commuters will be more accepting to the reduction of trains services which they are so accustomed to, there is a need to comprise a little. 

(a) As a temporary measure, it will be necessary to run public buses parallel along the same routes that the trains run. 

(b) Where feasible, reduce the bus fares by half or better still, provide free bus services during the periods when trains operations are curtailed.  This could be a way to record MOT’s appreciation to passengers who will have to put up with some disruptions to their daily travel patterns, and it’s a good way to rebuild the image of the SMRT.

If we able to look at the big picture, we will be able to see the long-term benefits when the thorough maintenance works can put the trains back on track – again.   So, let us exercise more patience and allow the maintenance crew to sort things out. 

For I have every confidence that in time to come with this intensified maintenance work and the expertise from the seconded engineers from DSTA, we can look forward to less train breakdowns and inconveniences. When this scenario takes place, we can certainly look forward to a Happy New Year in January or February.

In closing, I hope everyone, including the government can take a few steps back to ponder if we are moving too fast where stress levels are becoming overwhelming. Where tempers flare up so easily – on the roads, in our schools and even at nightclubs. A case in point was when a minor scuffle in a nightclub at St James Power Station turned into a large-scale fist fight last Sunday morning.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando's letter to The Life Section of The Straits Times: St Andrew’s values still in play today



 
My letter to The Straits Times Life Section on the above subject is published today, Saturday 7th November.
 
I refer to May Seah’s feature in St Andrew’s family of schools in Potong Pasir (Built For The Boys, Nov, Life) 
 
Every time I travel pass by St Andrew’s Village, I would recall that song, Up And  On that we used to sing in school. It is a tune that is synonymous with St Andrew's. 
In the 1950s, when St Andrew's was built in Woodsville, it was the only Christian school beside the Kallang River offering education to children of farmers, hawkers and lower middle-income families living in what are now Balestier, Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir areas. 
 
Although not all the teachers at St Andrew's were Christians, they all recognised that a good education meant imparting good values and knowledge to produce an all rounded student.
 
Out of this education at St Andrew’s, values such as honesty, integrity, equality, fair play, friendly competition and sportsmanship nurtured a strong bond. Such values are practised until this very day.  
 
Raymond Anthony Fernando

Friday, November 10, 2017

SMRT and LTA needs to create a conducive work culture with regular dialogue sessions; feedback mechanism in place: A proposal to Transport Minister Khaw Bon Wan




It is timely that the SMRT group’s chief executive Desmond Kuek has encouraged his staff to learn from the flooding incident and the breakdowns so that they can come out stronger and better (Desmond Kuek urges SMRT staff to come out 'better and stronger' after 'collective shame' from tunnel flooding incident”; November 9, 2017, TODAY Newspaper).

Enlightened leaders today make it a point to engage in a way that resembles an ordinary person-to-person conversation. By speaking with employees, rather than just issuing orders, top management can obtain feedback to make improvements to the rail system where staff can propose useful suggestions.

 

To this end, I propose that the management of SMRT and the LTA organises monthly breakfast sessions with their employees where a free flow of ideas can come naturally. Such dialogue sessions in a friendly setting will also help to improve relations with top management and fellow colleagues. As friends we tend to be more giving and we would want to help one another. That’s the culture that ought to be created.

 

Team work is vital for productivity. Another way to help resolve issues the SMRT and the LTA is facing is to encourage their staff to actively participate in the staff suggestion scheme where employees from different departments can team up to identify problems and then propose useful suggestions where some rewards can be given.

 

Such communication tools will shift the focus from a top-down distribution of directions and information to a more comfortable bottom-up exchange of ideas. At the end of the day, open communication can manifest in various ways – gaining trust, listening well, being receptive to good ideas and providing a more personalised culture.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Provide more support for students studying abroad: An open proposal to the Education Ministers




For a young foreign student who was all excited to be given the chance to study at the National University of Singapore (NUS), it was certainly a tragedy that undergraduate Ms Jung Haelin had to end up falling to her death (Undergrad falls to death after being locked out; November 3, 2017, The Straits Times).

Working or studying or abroad comes with a wide range of emotions. Happy, excited and thrilled for the opportunity to live in another country and meet people of different races and cultures, but at the same time feeling homesick and grappling with separation anxiety later when the excitement wears down.  

For foreigners, the most crucial part of adjusting to life in a different country is during the first three months. Some students will begin to show signs of homesickness after a while, and if NUS counsellors or lecturers are trained to spot these troubling periods, then the affected students can be given the emotional support they badly need.

It was reported that the undergraduate had the habit of using an object to wedge the door open when she was out. Perhaps if someone had been brought this to the attention of the counsellors, the tragedy could have been avoided. 

It would thus be timely to caution students during their orientation as well as send reminders periodically to them that climbing through windows where their safety will be comprised will not be tolerated.

While local students can easily reach out to their families, it is more difficult for foreigners to do so as some could be bottling pent-up emotions. Thus, it’s vital for counsellors to constantly keep in touch with foreign students to give clear guidance and support, as well as to provide a buddy system so that they do not feel all alone.

In addition, security should be enhanced at NUS. For instance, surveillance cameras could closely monitor the areas where students have been known to climb through windows whenever they get locked out of their rooms. Sensors can be placed near the windows so that security personnel will be alerted if anyone attempts to climb through the windows.  Security personnel should also patrol the hostels frequently – especially during the periods when lectures are over.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Opinion: Use model workers to mentor and motivate unproductive workers




I share the view of reader Patrick Tan Siong Kuan that both the Government and the SMRT must be held accountable to the many problems affecting our train systems that has caused frequent breakdowns, resulting in much inconvenience to passengers (SMRT incident: Holding leaders accountable is not ‘politicising’ the issue, October 26, 2017, MediaCorp’s TODAY Newspaper).

 

Every day, thousands of people rely on the MRT to travel to work, go to school, attend to their medical appointments and to see to their other needs. Thus, it is necessary to identify the problems that is causing the frequent breakdowns and then take remedial steps to ensure that the system is running smoothly; otherwise productivity will suffer.  In addition, the SMRT will lose revenue.

 

It was revealed recently by the SMRT Management that some of these problems such as the unprecedented flooding in the tunnel between Bishan and Braddell stations were caused by poor maintenance. Employees from the SMRT's building and facilities department, which oversees areas such as MRT tunnel ventilation, and flood and fire protection measures at train stations has admitted to lapses in their work.

 

The 6 staff who had falsified the maintenance records at Bishan are being taken to task and would be disciplined, while a probe is being carried out on 7 managers.  While some people including a forum, writer are of the view that those responsible for the breakdowns ought to be sacked, I do not share that view given that jobs are so hard to come by these days. And if the affected staff are dismissed, they as well as their loved ones will sink into depression – sooner or later. We should avoid taking this route.

 

On a more positive note, it was encouraging that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and the SMRT Management has made a public apology for the poor maintenance, promised more improvements to the rail network and have offered an amnesty for workers who were guilty of not doing proper maintenance.  

 

I have much empathy for Minister Khaw as it is no easy task managing the transport ministry. We have to understand that the MRT trains are old and just like our seniors, will slow down. So, it’s only fair to exercise some patience in his unenviable task of getting the trains system to run smoothly again.  Moreover, most of the MRT staff are hardworking and they should be commended for moving commuters from one point to another – in double quick time.

 

A conducive working environment is vital for productivity. One has to understand why the SMRT workers who did poor maintenance were not up to mark. Were they demoralised in any way?

 

Instead of breeding negativity all the time, there needs to be positive traits to motivate all of us, including workers at all levels, to excel. 

 

Several years ago, when foreign domestic workers (FDW) were poorly treated by some employers, I had proposed to the then-Manpower Minister Dr Lee Boon Yang and to the press that Singapore introduces a Model Employer and a Model FDW award scheme; and although there are still a handful of errant employers who still abuse maids, there is so much improvements between employer and FDWs following the scheme which has been implemented annually. By enlarge, now most employers of FDWs are more understanding to their maids. 

 

In a somewhat similar vein, an effective way to ensure that workers who adopt poor work attitudes do not continue to do so, SMRT can allow her model workers to mentor unproductive employees and in the process, motivate and inspire colleagues to give their very best. While this is being done, concurrently, the HR staff should counsel them and give them encouragement.

 

The SMRT has been put into the spotlight time and again – for all the wrong reasons.  It is therefore crucial that its image has to be rebuilt. In every organisation, performance has to be linked to productivity. It was reported that in the press that the remuneration of the top management of SMRT will be reviewed.

 

One way SMRT’s image can be rebuilt is to provide a one-off transport voucher of anything between $30-$50 for the needy from part of the savings generated from the savings derived from pay cuts of the top management.   These transport vouchers can be handed to the grassroots advisers’ island-wide for onward transmission to those with disabilities and unemployed Singaporeans aged 60 and above.

 

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO  

 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Opinion: Strong community support can help psychiatric patients to work toward recovery




8 years ago, on 22 January 2009, I proposed through the press (The New Paper) that the government builds more psychiatric homes, and it has been implemented.  Thank you, The New Paper for your wonderful support.


Last Saturday, a sheltered home for psychiatric patients – the Anglican Care Centre (SACS) managed by the Singapore Anglican Community Services was officially opened and Health Minister Gan Kim Young officiated at the event.  

When the Ministry of Health stands alongside the mentally ill, there is a good chance that slowly persons with mental illness will gain acceptance. It is encouraging that the Government is listening to feedback.  I am indeed very grateful to the government for building this psychiatric home.

 

On 1st November 2017, my late wife, Doris who was born on ALL SAINTS DAY will be celebrating her 65th birthday. She watches over me often, I can feel her presence in my room at night and even during the day. After her bath, Doris will put smell talcum powder on her face and body, and that’s the smell I get when I feel her around me. She brings renewed hope to me, and if she was alive, Doris will also be so happy that this shelter has been built.

 

Here’s my take on the newly opened Anglican Care Centre (SACS).

 

The newly opened Anglican Care Centre (SACS) managed by the Singapore Anglican Community Services is the right setting for psychiatric patients to work towards recovery, and it is a healthy sign that Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, despite his busy schedule, was there to officiate at the opening (Centre for those recovering from mental illness; October, 14, 2017, The Straits Times).

 

Dr Arthur Chern, group chief executive officer of SACS and St Andrew’s Mission Hospital, was spot on when he mentioned that with good community-based support, psychiatric patients can lead a normal life that includes being given regular employment.

 

Unlike, a physical illness, the recovery from a mental health condition takes a much longer time and lots of patience and understanding is required to enable them to stay in control of their lives.

 

The road ahead for psychiatric patients may not always be smooth sailing as there will be bumps along the way. But as long as they keep to their medical appointments that includes counselling, take the prescribed medications, exercise regularly and receive staunch support and encouragement from enlightened employers and colleagues, along with loving and caring caregivers and the community, there is an excellent chance of patients heading towards recovery. This will be an opportune time for them to achieve their goals – thereby securing full independence that will eventually enable them to gain acceptance in society.

 

In working towards building a dynamic inclusive society, let us not define psychiatric patients by their condition nor see it as a character flaw, but rather to understand that they are all human beings, who just like you and me, need love, understanding and kindness.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Klass is in a class of its own



It is every singer’s dream to perform at a live concert, and I am delighted that DJ John Klass has got that opportunity to entertain his audience on Thursday night at the esplanade (Life Section of The Straits, November 2, 2017).

 

The concert was a real treat for the audience as it was a reunion with Klass’ former band Kick whose other members include Jai and Dinesh who were responsible for turning their song Jane into a smash hit.  This upbeat song topped radio airplay charts all across Singapore and Malaysia and soared the popularity of the band.  

 

Although I did not attend his concert, Klass’ sterling performance was captured on video and uploaded on his Facebook and some of his dedicated fans. With his family on stage at times and the great singing by his back-up singers and band, I am pretty sure this good-looking dude will most likely secure a much larger following.

 

Klass is an all-round entertainer with many talents such as hosting events, modelling suits, singing, and doing DJ work for several years. 

 

Rollin good times



Rediffusion…. Good morning!   Yeah, all subscribers will recall that familiar melodious greeting which signalled the start of a brand-new day for Rediffusion’s listeners.

 

Yes, indeed Rediffusion brings back nostalgic memories both for me and my late wife, Doris, and whenever I get news of John Klass and  Valerie, his lovely wife and two cute daughters, I am so happy for him and his family.

 

The English-speaking listeners found it such a pleasure tuning in to the Silver Channel that made it so convenient for them to call to make song requests, chit chat with the warm and friendly deejays like John Klass, Rosemary Yap, Chris Ho and the bubbly Linden Loke.  Listeners could also participate in their many contests where attractive prizes were certainly a crowd puller.



Klass joined the cable radio station in 1991 when the rest of FM radio in Singapore was going through a massive change in programming format.  Batam radio Zoo 101 had been giving the then-Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) stiff competition by adopting the American Format Radio programming. 

 

One of my best memories of Klass was when he hosted his Wednesday morning show on Rediffusion’s cable radio in the early years.  During the show, listeners could phone in and request for their favourite songs and send dedications to loved ones and fellow listeners.  And this friendly bubbly DJ who had a pretty large following would always oblige, paving the way for friendships to broaden.

 

Keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars, John Klass

 

Now that this concert has been a successful one, I hope Klass can scale greater heights that will eventually put him on the world stage. Way to go, John Klass!

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Raymond 's letter to the Straits Times: Start 'block watch' programme to stop heartland vice



My letter on the above matter is published in The Straits Times today, Friday 3rd November 2017.

 There have been several cases of foreign women coming to Singapore on social visit passes, and making a quick buck through vice - the most recent case being those nabbed in a four-room flat in Jurong West (Three women arrested in raid on 'brothel' flat; Nov 2)


Our homes are our sanctuary.



Landlords, on their part, must keep tabs on the people they rent their premises to, especially if they are unknown to them.



Neighbours play an important role in keeping the estate safe and secure from crimes. They can keep a look-out for strangers entering homes.

Neighbourhood safety is a shared responsibility in which both citizens and police have important roles to play.

Unlike condominiums where there are security personnel round the clock, Housing Board flats are easier targets for vice.

I suggest that a "block watch" programme be introduced in Jurong West and other housing estates, in which appointed neighbours can work with the police to report suspicious characters - be it for suspected vice or other criminal activities.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-on-the-web/start-block-watch-programme-to-stop-heartland-vice

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to VOICES: Invite caregivers, lonely seniors to Istana




 

My press letter to Mediacorp’s TODAY newspaper on the above subject is published today, Tuesday 24th October 2017.

 

I am glad that President Halimah Yacob is considering inviting more ordinary Singaporeans to the Istana (“More opportunities being explored for public to visit Istana”; Oct 22).

 

I urge her to invite to the Istana caregivers, past and present, as well as seniors who live alone either at an open house or to have tea with her. That is a good way to build an inclusive society. 

 

Caregivers hardly have time to relax and enjoy some form of recreation, especially when they have to take care of a loved one who is trying to cope with a physical or mental health condition, at almost all hours of the day. 

 

Everyone needs to understand that caregivers who make much sacrifices need to do things that brings joy into their isolated world. 

 

This is the same case of the elderly lonely who are lonely, lack key social support and cannot afford to spend on outings.

 

Engaging in joyful activities and making friends is so important for these two groups, to help lift the human spirit.

 

At the end of the day, true relaxation is all about connecting with people from all walks of life.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 


 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Opinion: Sound leadership and better working conditions for employees paves the way for high staff morale and productivity : An open proposal to Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say and the Singapore Government




With the implementation of the Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling scheme that was launched by the Manpower Minister and supported by 220 employers, our workers can be assured of better working conditions (New scheme guides firms in handling staff grievances; October 20, 2017, The Straits Times).

 

Friendly ageing hiring, recruitment practices and retrenchments processes are important issues that needs to be addressed quickly as companies restructure with cost savings in mind.  To this end, it is comforting to know that these matters are being looked into by the unions and the manpower ministry. All workers – whether they are union members or not, need better working conditions and fair HR practices.

 

It was also mentioned in the ST report that supervisors have to be trained in managing employee feedback and unhappiness. With the government encouraging Singaporeans to upgrade themselves through continuous training, it is just as important for managers to be flexible and open to ideas from trainees and not stick to rigid procedures.  Bottom line: Both managers and bosses need to ‘think out of the box’.

Employees and all Singaporeans alike want to be listened to and feel that their concerns are taken seriously.

Some of the issues that cause unhappiness at the work place that sometimes leads to high turnover rates and much unhappiness include the following:

Lack of recognition: Staff will feel unappreciated when their superiors or bosses do not recognise the effort/s they put in to carry out any task.  It’s amazing how far a simple pat on the back, or ‘thank you’ note for a job well done can motivate staff.

Good ideas thrown out: Creative ideas and suggestions that can improve the well-being of the organisations or our nation should be embraced and not tossed out of the window just because it may entail extra work.   

Lack of remuneration: Employees who have not been promoted or given pay rises for several years will sure to feel dissatisfied, resulting in their not wanting to give their very best. They bottle up their unhappiness and dare not approach the boss as they are afraid of being ‘marked.’  In some cases, depression sets in, where work life and home life cause big problems as relationships sour – both on the home front as well as in the office.

No clear career path ahead:  When employees are not given clear career paths, they are not likely to give their 100 percent effort, but carry out the tasks at hand grudgingly because there is no motivation for them to push the limits.

Favoritism: Employer-employee relations can be tricky and at times, subordinates who lose out on promotions can be de-motivated, what more with office politics not being uncommon, and some bosses, regrettably, tending to favour certain staff.  For as human beings, we all have our ‘little favorites’ This was one of the issues I raised in my article to a local media company entitled Supportive Bosses raise Productivity”

For more details, do take time to read the full article by clicking onto the link below


 

Uneven spared of workload:   It often happens: The dynamic worker who can get the job done almost immediately and efficiently will be given a much heavier workload most of the time, while those who are not that productive will get a much lighter workload. Then there will be much unhappiness when the less productive worker gets pay increases or promotions while his/her colleague who has been very productive gets little or nothing. 

 

There have also been instances when the staff appraisal is used as a ‘weapon’ against an employee who falls out of the favour of the boss or the supervisor.   With this new scheme in place by the union in collaboration with the manpower ministry, workers can be given a fair chance to air their grievances so that if they are weak in certain areas, they can be counselled and given a chance to improve their performance within a given time frame.

 

This is why it is absolutely necessary to have a two-way staff appraisal in place, and this was a suggestion I made in the Straits Times some time back. I believe Mindef has such a system in place, but in the interest of all workers, unionised or otherwise, all government agencies and private companies need to adopt such a good HR practice.

 

Older Singaporeans with vast experience can mentor younger workers

 

Older Singaporeans who possess years of invaluable work and life experiences ought to be given the opportunity to mentor younger workers as they are well positioned to inspire and motivate inexperienced workers.  There should be no obstacles or road blocks put in the way of experienced elderly Singaporeans in reaching out to the middle age and younger workers. We must do away with the civil service mentality of ‘going by the book.’ There must be flexibility to adapt to different settings.

 

Layoffs should be the last resort

 

Unfortunately, when it comes to layoffs, usually the first workers that are asked to leave are those who command high salaries and have stayed loyal to the company for decades. We need to value such loyal employees – just as the Japanese style management does.  They view such workers as an asset, not a liability. 

 

With this new scheme put in place, a productive worker who has contributed to the well-being of the company and enhanced its image, through useful contributions, but not given fair recognition can raise the matter up in an amicable manner through the proper channels.

 

As companies restructure and downsize, it is inevitable that some unproductive workers may have to go.  Layoffs are of course painful as it can create behavioural and cost, hurt everyone in the company; with staff morale taking a beating.

 

No one likes unpleasant surprises. Instead of rushing off to carry out layoffs across the board, dedicated workers could be asked to take a few months of unpaid leave and still remain gainfully employed.  This will not only help the company to cut some costs, but will also allow the affected workers to either attend skills upgrading courses or look for other jobs.  Those on unpaid leave can also seize the opportunity to spend more quality time with their families.

 

It takes a leader to lead by example

 

Strong leadership must come from management who desire not to just save costs, but to save hearts and jobs as they display compassion for their loyal staff.

 

Undoubtedly, Raffles Hotel fits the bill as they embark on seconding staff who worry about losing their jobs, to their sister hotels for employment opportunities as the hotel will lose revenue with an 18-month restoration project that is taking place.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Thursday, October 19, 2017

OBSTACLES WILL NOT HINDER ME FROM DOING WHAT I LOVE BEST





“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

- Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross -



I am also inspired by people who have overcome obstacles in life, and one such person is famous American basketball player Michael Jordan, who once said: “Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

For the past 3 and a half years, I make it a must to pray to my wife at the columbarium in my church where Doris’ ashes are laid. I go as early as 6am to pray to her even though the lights are only turned on at 8am.  I pray in the dark, but the light of the eyes in Jesus and my wife shines on me, and give me hope. It is very dark but I bring along my led light lamp so that I will not be groping in the dark and fall down.

Moreover, the stretch of road leading to the church is tricky as the MRT is being built there so many areas have been blocked off.  Going that early helps me avoid the peak hour crowd in buses and I find solitude at this hour when I can talk to my wife and Jesus – two people who always protect and care for me.

Whatever I have done; and continue to do for the marginalized in Singapore though my advocacy efforts, I do it with courage and conviction.  I fear no one. And those who believe in what I do will always give me encouragement. I will walk tall – as I walk the talk.  

Have a nice day, folks.

Sincerely,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Encouraging when ideas get translated into action!


8 years ago, on 22 January 2009, I proposed through the press (The New Paper) that the government builds more psychiatric homes, and it has been implemented. Last Saturday, a sheltered home for psychiatric patients – the Anglican Care Centre (SACS) managed by the Singapore Anglican Community Services was officially opened and Health Minister Gan Kim Young officiated at the event. Read my press letter here: http://rayhope8.blogspot.sg/…/letter-to-pressnew-paper-22nd…
Advocacy pays, ya?
Raymond Anthony Fernando
 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Public suggestion to the Health & Manpower Ministers: Provide financial options to Singaporeans who can’t pay big bills in private hospitals and review lengthy work hours for senior citizens




Having to pay for huge medical bills in view of rising medical costs has always been a deep concern of all Singaporeans, and it really saddens me to have read of the plight of Mr Thomas Lukose who was saddled with a huge medical bill (Patient could not get place in SGH, hit with $78k bill; Oct 11, 2017, The Straits Times).

But, it was commendable on the part of the operating cardiac surgeon, Dry Sriram Shanker to waive the charges for his services, after which Gleneagles Hospital also waive the medical bill of for Mr Lukose.

If we can build on that compassion and offer some options to Singaporeans who may face a similar situation in future, I am pretty sure the lower income groups will breathe a big sigh of relief.  Moreover, offering options is always useful to have contingency plans in place in anticipation of unexpected situations or developments that may arise from time to time.

Securing a slot in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is an issue that needs to be tackled quickly given that many Singaporeans are stressed out in having to balance work and family life.  So too securing a bed in a government hospital. Given these challenges, there needs to be some flexibility and options for any Singaporean who have problems paying huge bills due to the unavailability of ICU slots or beds in public hospitals. 

Until such time when the slots in ICU or beds are fully resolved by the Ministry of Health (MOH), there needs to be systems in place for Singaporeans to have peace of mind. 

Offer options

To begin with MOH should collaborate with private hospitals to allow Singaporeans who have life-threatening illnesses and cannot secure a bed in public hospitals to pay their bills at the subsidised rates in the private hospitals – as was rightly suggested my SPH’s Senior Health Correspondent Salma Khalik. 

Then there needs to be some other options open to Singaporeans who are saddled with big bills through no fault of theirs.  For example, patients could be allowed to pay big bills through an instalment plan – interest free as they would need follow-up treatment which includes medication.

Another option is for ComCare to help pay for part of the bill as this government fund was set up primary to help elderly Singaporeans facing financial difficulties. MOH needs to collaborate with MSF on this matter.

Although medifund is given to patients in subsidised wards, some flexibility can be exercised given the circumstances that the patient/s may be caught in – as was the case with Mr Lukose.   Thus, medifund assistance can be yet another option offered to such patients.

Another viable option is for the Tote Board and the President’s Star Charity to allocate some funds for Singaporeans who are in this predicament.

Once approved by MOH, the social workers at the private admitting hospital can then coordinate any of these schemes to make it a smooth sail for the patient/s so that his/her loved ones will have peace of mind. 

While crowdfunding can help to raise some funds, relatives should not be burdened to take this route as it will only add to their stress and anxiety at a time when they will be deeply worried over their gravely ill loved one.   

The recovery from life-threatening illnesses such as heart surgery must not leave the patient and his/her family with anxiety and worry, as it can affect the healing process.

Lengthy work hours will take a toll on the physical and mental health of workers

Separately, the Ministry of Manpower and unions needs to review the long working hours which security guards have to clock in – almost all of our security personnel work on a 12-hour shift on any given day.  Those in the industry could be given the flexibility to opt for shorter working hours (8 hours) or if they are fit to work the 12-hour shift.  With job uncertainty and workers being laid off as companies downsize and restructure, some of our retrenched workers who have bills and mortgages to pay may have to work in the security line or drive cabs as jobs are hard to come by.  

Lengthy works hours – especially for senior citizens can have damaging effects on their physical as well as their mental state.

On 24th August 2015, a study published in the British medical journal – The Lancet had an alarming warning for people who work more than 55 hours a week: They appear to have a 33 percent higher risk of stroke than those toiling a saner 35 to 40 hours each week, and a 13 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease, too.

In addition, a study in 2014 found that working more than 55 hours a week at low-income jobs is associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  Then it was also found that the odds for developing depression were more than double for those who work very long hours.

Education and medical care are two important areas for the government to invest in. While the government is wise to invest heavily in education as students can be groomed to become tomorrow’s leaders, the policy makers have to also appreciate older Singaporeans – many of whom have done national service to protect our country and who have dedicated their whole lives to our country. 

Submitted for the government’s consideration, please.  
Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

Raymond Anthony Fernando