How MP Baey Yam Keng Instagram game’s on fleek? After wild doggo, comes pupper.

He stuck closely to the social media platform's rules: Maintain virtuous cycle.

By Belmont Lay | January 12, 2018

Member of Parliament (MP) for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng is the political prince of Instagram.

This is a special year to me as I published my own book! 😀 《一言既出》From the Horse’s Mouth is a compilation of articles I wrote for My Paper and Lianhe Wanbao over four years. I shared observations and thoughts based on my experiences growing up in Singapore and serving the community as a MP, as well as my take on arts, culture, language, the Singapore way of life and other topical issues. To make this book more meaningful, I managed to find a sponsor to help with the production costs, so that all sale proceeds can be used to serve the community. We will use the funds raised to set up a new bursary to help needy students of Tampines North. More details will be announced early next year. I am grateful to many people for being part of this journey: inspiration for my articles, publication and publicity of the book, buying and reading it. Thank you so much! #一言既出 #FromtheHorsesMouth #BYKbook #charity #wrapup2017

A post shared by Baey Yam Keng 马炎庆 (@baeyyamkeng) on

With 18.5k followers, the most metrosexual person in Parliament shines in his personally-curated photos and videos.

So, when the day comes when even Baey faces backlash on Instagram, you know something even more major is brewing.

Stray dog warning

Turns out, on Jan. 11, 2018, Baey drew the ire of Singaporeans due to an Instagram video he shared showing four dogs barking in the rain at a black cat (on the left standing on the ledge in the video) as a pack at Tampines Street 45.

The video was to warn residents about the stray dogs in the neighbourhood.

In his post, he added that the Tampines Town Council had reported the situation to the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) Animal Response Centre.

He shared “tips” on what to do should one encounter stray dogs and residents who come across the dogs are advised to alert AVA’s Animal Response Centre.

Backlash

The backlash was swift — an unforeseen development that is almost like the breaking of the covenant for him.

More than 250 comments were posted in response, with the majority questioning the MP’s decision to involve AVA and the antagonistic approach supposedly adopted to deal with stray dogs.

The main fear in alerting AVA is that the strays will be trapped and put down, as this was the approach in the past.

Social media game strong

Within six hours of the video post going up and the backlash it courted, Baey put up another post with a lengthy explanation and a show of appreciation — which received a ringing endorsement from fellow MP Louis Ng, an animal welfare activist and colleague.

And most importantly, the post showed a small black puppy, aka pupper or smol doggo, to defuse the tension.

I have gone through all the comments to my previous post and I’m heartened to know that there are many of you who care for the stray dogs. As seen in the video clip which I received from a resident, there are several dogs and some residents will be concerned (in fact, the Town Council has received several emails asking for action). As their MP, it is my duty to assure them. I shared the AVA advisory so that residents know how to react and not cause undue distress to the dogs. For example, if people start running away from the dogs, the dogs may chase them and give the wrong impression they are being aggressive. Residents’ safety is important and AVA as the national agency for wild animals has to be alerted. In Feb 2017, then SMS Desmond Lee said in Parliament that AVA takes a multi-pronged approach to manage the animal population and mitigate health and safety concerns. It first undertakes a professional assessment of potential threats that animals might pose to public health and safety. AVA will have to act if there significant health and safety concerns. Where feasible, it will work with stakeholders, including the animal welfare groups and organisations to relocate and rehome these animals. Culling is not the first action and used ONLY as a last resort. In fact, AVA just rolled out a Trap Neuter and Release Program. Please be assured that Tampines does not support culling of dogs. We will work with animal welfare groups to foster and re-home these animals. If you know of anyone who can help, do let me know. Thanks.

A post shared by Baey Yam Keng 马炎庆 (@baeyyamkeng) on

Virtuous cycle of Instagram

This response aimed to reignite the virtuous cycle of Instagram follower engagement, which is known to be more positive than Facebook and Twitter.

In this post, Baey said he appreciated all the feedback and felt “heartened” to know that there were so many people who cared for the stray dogs.

He clarified that he had received the video clip from a resident and that the town council had received several emails asking for action.

“As an MP, it is my duty to assure them,” he said.

Baey also assured in the post that culling would only be administered as a “last resort”.

AVA now employs a Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage programme.

“Please be assured that Tampines does not support culling of dogs,” he said. “We will work with animal welfare groups to foster and rehome these animals. If you know of anyone who can help, do let me know.”

Animal welfare activist’s endorsement

Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng, who is also the founder of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, personally responded to Baey’s second post — a ringing endorsement if there ever was one.

“I too share your concerns about culling and I’m so happy that AVA will be rolling out a brand new sterilisation programme to manage the stray population,” said Ng.

“It has taken us a long time to achieve this, but a lot of changes have been made in the past few years and a lot of progress has been made. There is lots more to do and I will continue speaking up about this issue in Parliament,” he added.

“I can also assure you that Yam Keng is equally concerned about the welfare of animals.”

And just like that, the issue has blown over and the covenant has been restored.

Instagram game strong.

About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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