Saturday, 22 October 2011

MBPJ Forum in Conjuction with World Animal Day

Wikipedia: World Animal Day is celebrated each year on October 4. It started in Florence, Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists.[1] On this day, animal life in all its forms is celebrated, ........
Today's post comes in two parts- the first, about the event itself, and the next being my take on it. Tq.

(Ahli MPPJ) Mr Anthony Thanaseyan had invited yours truly to participate in a forum/seminar at MBPJ Library (in conjunction with World Animal Day which was on October 4th, 2011) which was held yesterday - which I must say, was very educational (besides the forum itself, the handouts from Eukanuba were good too!).
As modest as it may have been- it was definitely a "groundbreaking" moment, as it is being officially acknowledged & celebrated for the first time in Malaysia by a Government body....
The event was graced and officiated by YB Xavier Jeyakumar who  is the Exco member of Selangor State Govt. He articulated the efforts of the State Govt towards animal welfare (by making allowances for those who wished to keep livestock).
The Mayor of PJ, Dato Roslan Sakiman was very supportive of the fact that MBPJ was leading the way in being a caring Local Government.
Among the speakers at the event was Edmond Bon in his capacity as an advocate for Animal Rights (wearing "UNDI MALAYSIA" t-shirt- which I bought later at the booth). The others were representatives from the DVS, MBSJ, MBPJ, and MPK.
En. Zulkifli Abbas, Pengarah Kesihatan Majlis Perbandaran Kelang gave an excellent presentation of the problems faced by local councils- which isn't quite understood by (certain NGOs) which tend to unjustly criticize them without quite understanding what the the authorities are faced with.
I was truly impressed with the efforts of MPK which was keen on learning newer methods to mitigate social problems as a result of neglect suffered by animals in our communities.

He opined that irresponsible ownership of pets/dogs was & is the main cause of most of the problems- which they are ultimately responsible for, and are obliged to act upon using methods to the best of their knowledge. As such, he hoped for greaater participation of the various NGOs who appear to know better when the make a fuss over the "cruelty" perpetrated by the local councils.
Seeing both sides of the picture, I believe that there is much truth to what En Zul says. His humility conceding that they have plenty to learn was something which I see as very progressive- which I have yet to see in local councils like MPS (which incidentally wasn't represented at the Forum).

Part II
Now for my take on the whole situation ...
Society as we know it in Malaysia today, has sacrificed everything- their philosophy, morality, dignity,  humanity, rights and even "souls"- at the altar of prosperity.
The injustices we perpetrate is often justified for selfish reasons from personal opinions, to "stress", to law, to family, to money and sadly, even religion/"God".
The sufferings of animals who are the most vulnerable & voiceless is just another manifestation of the moral degradation and bankruptcy we suffer from. It is time we take a good look at ourselves, before we find fault with the system, the education our neighbours or whichever punching bag we may find around us.

In the above forum- except for En Zul, I sensed "defensiveness" on part of certain speakers who only highlighted "how well they were doing" to justify their actions or opinions.
When the discussion was opened to the floor, it was queried to all on the panel(by yours truly)- while on one hand the local councils were catching the strays, and the NGOs are "rescuing" them-
if there were any local laws/ efforts at addressing the root cause of the problem .... the adequate monitoring of (licensed/ unlicensed) dog ownership, breeding and trade of animals by the local health authorities.....

  • Was there a database for it so that we had something to refer to to  determine ownership of all domestic pets- be they cats, dogs, birds, iguanas, snakes or whatever? (one member of the floor suggested an online database)
  • Did they (DVS/ Local Councils) have a stratified licensing program (for ownership and/or breeding) wherein ownership/guardianship, breeding and trade in animals was monitored?
  • Did they have pet "owners" ("trustee" or "guardian" would be a more politically correct word here- after all, you cannot "OWN  a life") sign a letter of undertaking to abide by guidelines?
  • Were there checks on owners by the authorities?
  • Was there a penalty for abandoning pets?

While many of the answers were evasive at best- Edmond Bon gave a very simple, good and short answer - "NO they didn't!!"

So, that means- for now, the public, the NGOs and the local authorities are actually being quite clueless in addressing the issue of strays (be they cats- which are not licensed at all- or dogs) or any other animal related matter!!
One party is allowing the embers to glow, while the other is putting out the bushfire ... while the "pyromaniacs" are having a party!!
We are admittedly, a society which indulges in symptomatic solutions - just as we do with all other social problems we have in our country- and as such, is paralyzed by it!! Then we wonder why ....

Somehow, I believe that we're all being too myopic and selfish by taking care of our own interests (yes, me too- mea culpa- as I only got involved after being personally affected), fail to look at the bigger picture and prevent the problems resulting from unfettered breeding, trade and irresponsible ownership.
It is therefore no surprise that the problem only perpetuates itself- and if we were to go on like this, we will only fail further and create more discontent and conflict in society.

So, while I suggest that Local Councils look into the above matters, I'd also suggest that we have a change in our mindsets- by regarding Animals as living beings, rather than "property". Just as women and children are no longer considered "property" as in the old days, let us as higher intelligent beings and trustees of this world, accord animals their rights as a legitimate part of our society.
It is therefore hoped that those who have the means to bring about the changes (Govt, politicians, NGOs) would work together and campaign for a constitutional place/protection for animals in our society - as living beings we share the world with, rather that "property", with which we may do as we please.

All in all- I must say that it was a very good experience which was not only educational, but made me reassess some opinions I held in the past ...
Bravo MBPJ!!
Bravo, Anthony!!
You make a difference ....


The picture here is that of a beautiful "giant" bonsai being placed in a garden created at a petrol pump (in Selayang) I dropped by to fill-up on the way back from the forum.

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