Chong Pang cat programme? You’re having us!

Chong Pang cat programme in Singapore - voiddecker.com

One cat per flat – the joke is on us

Our local papers may be controlled by the government, as we saw in an earlier post on the release of the tell-all book by former ST Editor Cheong Yip Seng, but that hasn’t stopped our fine journalists from exercising creativity in manoeuvring around the OB markers and even expressing their great sense of humour.

Imagine my delight at spotting this wonderful piece of satire on TODAYonline about the introduction of a pilot cat programme in Chong Pang. Hilarious stuff — and it’s not even April Fools! Mr Cheong must be proud.

Chong Pang residents can own one cat per flat

Good news for feline lovers in Chong Pang. From today, residents in the area’s 123 blocks are allowed to own one cat per flat under the “Love Cats” programme.

The programme was launched on Saturday by the area’s MP, Mr K Shanmugam, who is also the Law and Foreign Affairs Minister.

Chong Pang residents who currently have a cat and wish to keep it must register with the Cat Welfare Society by January. The programme is part of a two-year pilot on cat ownership organised by the Cat Welfare Society.

The move is supported by the Ministry of National Development, Housing and Development Board, Agri-food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore, Chong Pang Citizens’ Consultative Committee and Sembawang-Nee Soon Town Council.

The project aims to define what it means to be a responsible cat owner in an HDB estate.

Some conditions include micro-chipping the cat, keeping the cats indoors and cat-proofing the house by using meshing on windows and doors.

The felines must also be toilet trained, sterilised and registered with the Cat Welfare Society.

Mr Shanmugam said: “We need to be very careful and very sensitive to the wishes and feelings of those who have very little to do with animals, or who don’t understand animals. Let us work together. And I hope that at the end of two years, the project will be successful so that it can be a model that can be replicated.”

Any astute reader like yourself will be able to sense quickly the many elements of satire peppered throughout this article by the writers. For the less discerning, allow me to point them out for you in detail:

Parody

From today, residents in the area’s 123 blocks are allowed to own one cat per flat under the “Love Cats” programme.

The first reaction of the reader is, who cares how many cats you keep in your house? What goddam business is it of the government? This is an obvious parody of our HDB-balloting system and of Singapore society in general where so many things we do are under the government’s control. This is also self-deprecating on the part of the journalists — or even a cry for sympathy from them — considering their plight in not being able to write freely.

As with all good parodies, the more ludicrous the scenario the funnier it is, and controlling how many cats a resident can keep is as ludicrous as it gets. Therefore, a tell-tale sign that this ‘news’ is fake. Notice also the use of a random funny number in “123 blocks” to enliven the comedic mood. Sublime, really.

Here’s a suggestion: “Must Love Cats” makes a better name for added parodic play on the Hollywood movie.

Exaggeration

Some conditions include micro-chipping the cat, keeping the cats indoors and cat-proofing the house by using meshing on windows and doors. The felines must also be toilet trained, sterilised and registered with the Cat Welfare Society.

This leads readers to conjure freakish images of cats walking listlessly into bathrooms, climbing onto toilet bowls to relieve themselves with skilled care, before stopping by the wash basin to scrub their paws with antibacterial Dettol hand wash.

Like animals on parole, these poor cats are also tagged with microchips and locked indoors from escaping, and at a certain time every night they call up the Cat Welfare Society to report their well behaviour. Hardcore 1984 Big Brother stuff here.

Ridicule and Sarcasm

Mr Shanmugam said: “We need to be very careful and very sensitive to the wishes and feelings of those who have very little to do with animals, or who don’t understand animals. Let us work together.

A clever but gentle mocking of the Singaporeans among us who got so outraged by recent racism incidents, calling for sackings and making police reports. Tolerance is the call here in this subtle piece of sarcasm.

Incongruity and Irreverence

It goes without saying that, as Law and Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Shanmugam is busy concerning himself with critical foreign and local issues such as how to best position Singapore amidst US-China relations or the delicate balance between the need for counter-terrorism vis-à-vis the Internal Security Act in a progressive society. We should be alarmed if he really sees feline acceptance as his chief mandate and most urgent task!

The best satires put the most serious characters in twisted, impossible situations and test our ability to see the lighter side of things — another masterstroke from the writers.

Irony

I risk insulting your intelligence by stating the bleeding obvious, but instead of endorsing all these horrible ill treatment of felines as described in the article, the Cat Welfare Society should be crying foul and demanding the release of these poor creatures!

Running Joke

As defined in Wikipedia, a running joke is a “literary device that takes the form of an amusing joke or a comical reference and appears repeatedly throughout a work of literature or other form of storytelling”.

Looks like our press folks have taken satire to a new level — worthy of The Onion surely — as we see from this follow-up article Thumbs up for Chong Pang cat programme of mock interviews with residents, and even a supposed ‘letter’ from an imaginary resident HDB should spell out the penalties for errant cat owners making crazy unreasonable demands. Awe-inspiring humour transcending into an art form. We await with bated breath for more.

Great job, writers!