The Sin Ming chickens are once again in peril.
In 2017, a number of them were culled following complains from residents in the Sin Ming – Thomson area. The uproar was swift. Many Singaporeans felt that the culling was excessive, even cruel. Even public figures like the former dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Donald Low, weighed in.
This year, the free-roaming chickens have again become the subject of contention. Revealing that a number of noise complains have been received residents working from home, the Thomson Sin Ming Court Residents’ Committee (TSCRC) announced its intention to send some of the chickens packing. An unspecified number of birds will be moved to Lee Heng Garden Services, in Seletar.
The TSCRC’s decision to remove some of the birds is definitely a little strange. A poll was held last year amongst residents showed that more than 90% of residents voted in favour of keeping the birds.
Cages have been set up yesterday, on 8 October, to catch the birds so that they may be trapped and relocated. So far, they have only caught pigeons. According to Mothership, the chickens had been chased away from the traps by chicken-loving residents.
One of the most vocal proponents of the birds is resident and film-maker, Jun Chong, who actually made a short film about the chickens of Sin Ming. Comments on r/singapore, a subreddit for Singaporeans show also widespread appreciation for the birds. One spoke of how the birds are adept at hunting down cockroaches. Another suggested the Residents’ Committee bring them to Woodlands, where apparently the call of the “uwu bird”, or Asian Koel is often heard. Others made cheeky suggestions for noisy (human) neighbours to relocated instead.
The Asian Koel, for the uninitiated, is the bird that makes the piercing calls that is often heard in the mornings and evenings. Its name, in fact, comes from the call made by the male bird. Clearly though, they do have their fans as the Asian Koel is the state bird of Puducherry, in India.
The plight of night shift workers who may be woken up by the noisy birds during the daytime have also been brought up by some commenters. An AsiaOne article also referred to residents who are supportive of the impending removal of some birds. A man expressed relief that no birds will be culled during the population control exercise, while a lady had concerns about the chickens being “dirty”.
Do you have wild chickens living in your area? What is it like and how do you feel about them? What bird do you think should be Singapore’s state bird?