If you recall, there has been various alarming cases of animal abuse in the country. Remember the Petknode Online Pet Store case a couple of years ago? Or that case where a sun bear and a retired racehorse were poisoned to death at the Malacca Zoo and Night Safari? Let’s not forget the viral video of the 15-year-old boy tossing a helpless puppy around last year.
Activists have long since tried to rally for proper animal rights and appropriate penalties for animal abusers. This has been in talks since February 2013.
Currently, the penalty for animal abuse is a fine of up to RM50,000, not more than a year’s jail, or both, following 2012’s amendments to the Animal Act 1953. Prior to the amendments, the penalty was a paltry RM200 fine, 6 months’ jail, or both.
According to The Star Online, a new “Animal Welfare Bill” will be debated in Parliament today (16th June 2015) and if passed, the new law will be enforceable within the next few months upon its gazette. Anyone who beats, kicks, tortures, neglects or abandons any animal can be charged for animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Bill. If convicted, abusers can face a fine between RM20,000 and RM100,000 and a jail sentence of not more than 3 years.
And if passed, the Bill will even be applicable to those who want to catch or kill strays with cruel methods.
Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) CEO Lorna Fisher explained:
The reality is that there are tens and thousands of unwanted animals in Malaysia. All of us would love to say “stop killing the strays”, but you have to know that there is no magical way to rehome all the animals. Anyone, whether it is a government body or individual, who wants to catch or kill strays with cruel methods can now be prosecuted under the Bill. We have been living with situations that are considered abusive or morally wrong, but we had no legal end to go in and protect those animals. But under the new Bill it will be legislated as animal cruelty. We would now have the law on our side to better protect our animals.
Our best guess is that she was referring to the recent controversial “Kempen 1 Anjing 10 Ringgit“, which was meant to encourage the public to catch stray dogs, with the council offering to pay RM10 per animal.
After causing quite a ruckus on social media, the campaign was aborted.
Fisher also said that what we can do is have “effective stray management” done as humanely as possible, and that ultimately, she’s happy to see the “much bigger body of legislation” that covers all animals. She added that it is important that Malaysians report cases of animal abuse and act as witnesses during trials, and hopes that the new laws would be applied to all without discrimination.
Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan said that she is happy to see the increased punishment and scope of animal abuse. “But the problem is whether they would rightly punish animal abusers,” said Shenaaz.
She brought up the 2011 case of a young girl bludgeoning a kitten to death and explained:
I can’t see the case being tried differently. There will still be sympathy and they didn’t want to give her a high punishment, although they should. I’ve seen so many animal abusers get away with their wrongdoings because nobody wants to stand up and act as a witness to the case. So if you see something please come forward and stand as a witness so that animal abusers will be prosecuted.ADVERTISEMENT
Meanwhile, awareness programs to educate Malaysians on what constitutes as cruelty are currently in the works.
Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) deputy director-general Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin said that awareness programs are “in the pipeline”. “We are hoping to work with the education ministry to introduce this into the school system, because this will be useful in the long run,” he said.
Source: The Star Online.