'Mr Lee, can I keep a golden retriever in my HDB flat?'

'Mr Lee, can I keep a golden retriever in my HDB flat?'

For months, Charlotte Eng has been besotted with the thought of having a golden retriever as a pet.

But the nine-year-old's parents forbade her from having one because keeping big dogs is against HDB rules.


The Primary Four pupil from Haig Girls' School then penned a hand-written letter for Singapore's Prime Minister.

"Mr Lee, can you convince HDB to change their rule(s) so that I can keep a golden retriever? Thank you."

Charlotte's mum, Madam Wong Yoke Lye, typed Charlotte's letter in the Facebook Q&A session with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

His response: "If your dog is not so big, perhaps we can ask HDB (and your neighbours) to be flexible about it?"

Then came a second reply: "Dear Charlotte, my staff just told me HDB and AVA (the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) are reviewing the policy."

Madam Wong told The New Paper on Sunday: "She (Charlotte) was jumping with joy when I showed her PM Lee's reply. Especially when his second reply came in. She knows there might be hope for her to keep a golden retriever."

Madam Wong, 40, a primary school teacher, said her daughter used to be afraid of animals after a rabbit bit her.

But a trip to Tasmania in December changed all that. Madam Wong said: "She fell in love with a golden retriever... during our trip. Since then, she's been begging for one almost every day."

Charlotte has been going through books on dogs and online forum pages, learning how she can keep and train one.

She and her mother even went to check out other dog breeds, but Charlotte would not budge.

Indeed, she did not give up. She read newspapers and online articles, keeping abreast of issues about big dogs in HDB flats.

Madam Wong said: "When I found out that PM Lee was going to open up his Facebook for Q&A, I told her this might be her one and only chance."

Having a golden retriever must have meant the world to Charlotte as she is not the type who would question authority figures, said her mum.

So what now?

"If PM Lee is willing to help her, her dream might come true," said Madam Wong.

This article was first published on January 25, 2015.
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