Following the outpour of criticism on Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA)’s decision to cull the wild chickens roaming freely around Thomson View and Blocks 452 to 454 Sin Ming Avenue due to 20 complaints filed against them, Singapore’s national building newspaper, Straits Times decided to help AVA to clear up the confusion.
While public have noted that the Sin Ming Avenue chickens are undoubtedly the endangered Red Junglefowl which they have seen for years, AVA tries to pull a fast one by stating to the press that the free-ranging chickens that are sometimes seen on mainland Singapore are not red junglefowl — an endangered species — though some may resemble them.
In its Facebook video, ST presented a series of photos which explained that the noisy domesticated chickens found at Sin Ming Avenue are not native to Singapore and presents a risk to the pure breed Red Junglefowl through cross-breeding, which is the reason why the authorities are culling the chickens.
A reason that does not make sense given that in its initial reply to TODAY, AVA stated that the action was taken to cull the chickens due to 20 complaints from residents, then it shifted to say that the chickens poses public health concerns and now AVA is saying that the chickens pose a threat to the genetic pureness of our local chickens.
ST further noted that the Red Junglefowl has grey legs instead of yellow and that it can fly.
ST questionably used a photo of domesticated chickens from Getty Images in its video to depict the chickens at Sin Ming Avenue instead of using actual photos of the chickens.
If ST used the photo of the chickens at Sin Ming Avenue, the public will be faced with an image as the one below.
The photo on the left is supplied by National Parks of the endangered Red Junglefowl found on Palau Ubin while the photo on the right is uploaded by Ben Leong, who took the photo of the chickens years back. One would find it hard to differentiate between the two.
In fact, MediaCorp’s TV documentary “Wild City” which featured wildlife in Singapore, stated these chickens as the Red Junglefowl, the ancestors to the domesticated chickens. It showed that the chickens had grey legs and that they can fly.
Andrew Scott, director of Wild City wrote on TOC:
“I directed the episode of the TV programme “Wild City”, and we featured those very birds. I have very fond memories of the week we spent filming on Sin Ming Ave. We filmed all over the island for that show, but that street always stuck in my mind as the most charming and characterful place we visited. I would dispute the assertion that they are “chickens, not jungle fowl” – They are exactly the same species (only genetic testing would be able to differentiate wild type fowl from domesticated birds, and even then the difference is debatable).
Killing those birds just seems like another example of Singapore’s bipolar attitude to it’s nature: it’s all good so long as it get in the way. Nature isn’t a garden, you don’t get to pick the best bits and expect it all to hang together. It’s ecological vandalism. What next for other birds we don’t like the sound of? Do we kill all the calling Koels?
I’m impressed that Singaporeans can filter out the constant noise of traffic and construction, but are driven to distraction by a few crowing chickens. It’s a total shame.”
So, was ST trying to help AVA to deflect the public anger by supporting their claims that or are they just poorly trained journalists who are too lazy to do some research?
With examples like this, no wonder Singapore media receives the ranking of 154th in World Press Freedom Index.