Remembering Sheena

Stop Animal Abuse in Malaysia.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Update on our meetings with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government

Dear RSC supporters,

Here is an up-date on our discussions with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government on the issue of Dog Control Guidelines (not our choice of title, but theirs).

In early February RSC, along with representatives from NGOs were invited by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Dr S. Subramaniam, to discuss issues pertaining to the responsible ownership of dogs (again, our choice of words would be "reponsible guardianship" not "ownership")

Subsequently I was invited to meet Dr Subramaniam again on March 1, to discuss the proposals RSC had put forward entitled Welfare and Humane Treatment of Domestic Pets. (You may read our full proposal on the link on the right).

At the first meeting I brought up the issue of the poor response from the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to the public's phone calls reporting animal abuse. I cited newspaper reports of the Sheena case where a neighbour had to telephone the DVS three times before they bothered to investigate.

There was a representative from the DVS present and she denied the DVS was complacent about reports of animal abuse.

So I cited my own experience in calling and was told by their Senior Enforcement Officer that they had "no time" to deal with such complaints as they had "other more important things to do".

Shockingly, this representative agreed and said they had other things like bird flu to attend to and that it is perfectly fine for them not to act on reports of abuse.

Since there were about 30 other people in the room who witnessed that statement I have since written a letter of complaint to Dr Subramaniam, the Director-General of the Department of Veterinary Services and the Minister of Agriculture.

In the second meeting Dr Subramaniam cited the overlapping jurisdictions of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government with the Department of Veterinary Services in handling these issues concerning domestic pets.

To be fair, he is right in saying that the expertise and knowledge on animals lies in the hands of the DVS, but he has very kindly agreed to liaise with them so that they can mutually resolve these issues.

He is also considering RSC’s appeal that any drafting of laws involving animals take into account their (the animals’) point of view as well, and not just what is convenient for humans.

At my latest meeting with Dr Subramaniam, I also reiterated the RSC's relentless cry for high penalties against animal abusers, and not to leave the impositions of fines at the discretion of the courts.

I argued that giving the courts discretionary powers to impose fines will result in only the minimum fines being imposed – something that’s as good as writing the laws on thin air.

As can be seen from the Animal Ordinance Act 1953, the courts mete out token fines and rarely ever impose a jail sentence worthy of the heinous acts of cruelty inflicted on abused animals. Worse the courts have been returning the abused animals to their owners.

We await the outcome of our discussions and pray that God will direct our lawmakers to draft with wisdom and compassion.

Shoba Mano


Post a Comment

<< Home