Improve Animal Road Safety, Starting with Pulau Ubin

Improve Animal Road Safety, Starting with Pulau Ubin

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In Honor of Kopi-O started this petition to National Parks Board and

On 3rd Feb 2021, the beloved community dog “Kopi-O'' was killed after being struck near the small town of Pulau Ubin by a van outside NParks’ main office. A Chinese newspaper, Wanbao, reported the suspect was a middle aged driver taking the vehicle at approximately 40km/h (4th Feb).

According to Singapore's Road Traffic Act, Section 84, regulations regarding accidents with an animal are: to provide personal details if requested by an eyewitness; inform its owner in 24 hours - within reason; and move the stricken so as not to cause an obstruction.

The suspected driver has reached a settlement with the dog’s alleged owner, however, Kopi-O has independently ventured out to the Ubin community and its visitors. We, the signatories, believe a personal settlement should not discharge the culprit from inattentive driving or failure to slow down at the small town area. This incident is especially concerning since he was speeding on a narrow lane where student trek or children play nearby.

With no statement and an investigation still ongoing, blame has been placed on local taxi-van servicemen. Based on accounts of visitors however, van PU160X assigned to take visitors to Kopi-O's grave (Mothership.sg, 10th Feb) was parked outside NParks office and may be a Singapore contract driver for other agencies. This was also where the hit-and-run happened. Hence it is plausible that Ubin locals weren't involved.

According to local villagers (as of Monday 15th Feb), the suspect continues to drive the van that killed Kopi-O. A number of them shared their concerns for the safety of other community dogs, including Kopi-O's pups and his brother "Teh-C".

For these reasons we humbly request NParks to publish a statement to absolve blame on Ubin’s local taxi drivers and announce its suspension of Kopi-O's hit-and-run driver.

Kopi-O was unique in that he was a community dog who enjoyed guiding visitors, campers, and trekkers on Ubin, whether till the western end on Outward Bound School, Puaka Hill, the Wei Tuo Temple, or the eastern end at Chek Jawa. The hundreds of stories, memories, photos, and videos about his coming to people’s aid or befriending them is a reminder that pets are not simply property to their owners, but have sentient, independent lives as well.

As owners of pets and advocates for animal road safety, we ask that NParks takes the lead in improving traffic laws regarding animal safety. (i) It is unlikely that bystanders or pet owners can catch up with the driver without further endangering themselves or the stricken; (ii) Not all domesticated animals have a singular owner, e.g. community cats or dogs; (iii) the law doesn't protect the needs of a struck animal, i.e. immediate medical attention and updating its owner(s) immediately. A suspension or the appropriate penalties will help assure people of theirs and animal safety, deter animal roadkills on Pulau Ubin, and call for greater balance and respect between humans and animals in Singapore.

As more visitors come to Pulau Ubin in light of COVID-19, we hope they'll get to enjoy engaging Ubin's community pets. We see more news of wildlife encroaching our places of living and commuting, and believe we, and drivers, need to be more attentive to the creatures we share our islands with. With this action, NParks will set a precedent for animal rights in Singapore and assure the many friends and fans of Kopi-O his death would not be in vain.

Other suggestions are:
a. To reconsider the make of this particular van and whether it is appropriate for forested roads and places of interest such as Pulau Ubin;
b. For outcomes of the investigation to be published on NParks’ social media page(s) so the many befrienders of Kopi-O may find closure;
c. That NParks provides first aid veterinary support on Pulau Ubin; and
d. In time, for an MP of Parliament to propose amendments to the Road Traffic Act for greater accountability and deterrence for drivers involved in roadkills and animal hit-and-runs.

Sincerely,
In Honor of Kopi-O

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At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!