A lot have been said about the rat infestation in Bukit Batok. Everyone and their grandparents have had something to comment and as expected, netizens have had their fingers twisted and fractured from pointing at probable suspects and culprits ranging from the dogs, the dog lovers, the stall holders, the MPs and we thought we saw a mention of God.
But below all that commotion lies the real culprit; the failure of the agencies assigned to prevent such an infestation to uphold the rules and regulations that they are empowered to. In short, the NEA and the AVA have failed to exercise the powers bestowed upon them. They have instead moved away from their core responsibilities of ensuring a safe and liveable environment to that of pandering to the whims of interest groups so much so that they are afraid to implement unpopular measures at the expense of the very statutes that they are supposed to uphold. They have simply lost their mojo.
The rat infestation exposes four salient questions:
1 Does the rat infestation pose a hazard to the environment and health of the people?
2 Does the existence of the pack of stray dogs pose a danger to the residents and visitors to the area? Already there are reports of people being chased by the stray dogs.
3 Does the existence of unconsumed rotting food meant for the dogs pose a hazard to the environment?
4 Does the throwing of food meant for the dogs constitute a littering offence?
The answer to all of the above questions is a resounding yes. So based on that alone the NEA and the AVA should have taken more concrete actions instead of getting involved in the politics of things. Granted the rat infestation is now being tackled but that was after a video was posted in youtube although complaints about the rats have been made way before then.
And what about the dogs? Are there plans to have them culled or captured? Or do we have to wait for someone to be attacked and bitten by the dogs? And how about the dog feeders who littered the park with left-over foods? Will they be waylaid and summoned like how the smokers are being waylaid and summoned for smoking in non-smoking areas?
The rat infestation is a wake-up call for the two agencies. They must realise that they are not there to win a popularity contest. They have a job to do and they must do it regardless of the reaction from the interest groups such as the SPCA and others. It is only natural that the SPCA and animal lovers have the interest of the dogs to consider. On a sidenote, the same groups are silent about the fate of the rats although they are animals too. But we digress.
In any case, the two agencies have a bigger interest to look out for that far exceeds the interest of the animals; the welfare and wellbeing of the environment and the people. This should remain their primary focus and indeed their main reason of existence.