Thursday, October 06, 2011

State sanctioned animal mistreatment in Zambry's Perak

06 October 2011
Written by Mariam Mokhtar,
Malaysia Chronicle

It is outrageous that animals are being neglected by the MBI (Ipoh City Council or Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh).

Despite the public condemnation which it received last year, MBI continues the callous, indiscriminate shooting of dogs including pets, and has still not learned its lesson.

In October 2010, the MBI made headline news for shooting a therapy dog and long term companion of a 75 year old lady. This lady was about to exercise her dog, when she popped into her house to retrieve something she had forgotten.

When she returned after being away for a few minutes, her dog Spunk, was nowhere to be found; after much searching, she found his body. Spunk had been shot by dog shooters who did not even bother to check if the animal had a license on its collar.

The aftermath of this killing was that an immediate ban was placed on the shooting of dogs.

This was rescinded in March 2011 when the Ipoh Mayor, Roshidi Hashim admitted that his enforcement team had shot at dogs in Ipoh, because nurses coming off-duty at one of the private hospitals had complained about dogs barking.

Roshidi approved the shooting because the MBI had an ‘option to shoot’ dogs, in its local by-laws.

Filthy and neglected

However, during my visit to the Gunung Lang recreational park just off the Kuala Kangsar Road in Ipoh, on 24 September 2011, I discovered that dogs are not the only animals to suffer cruelty at the hands of the MBI.

The park at Gunung Lang is only accessible by boat. The place looks idyllic but on closer inspection, it has an air of disarray and neglect. At one time, this Gunung Lang park must have been a gem and a welcome green lung for Ipoh.

The park keeps animals in cages or fenced off enclosures. Many of these animals looked diseased and unhealthy. Their fur had no shine and the animals were filthy, and looked neglected.

One rabbit in the cage close to the jetty, looked as though its nose was about to drop off. Bits of its skin were bare of fur and the cage was littered with rabbit pellets and looked like it was rarely cleaned.

In the far-side of the park, several caged enclosures looked like they needed repair and there was no information about any of the animals or birds which they housed. Many of the cages were empty or had broken fencing. Equipment which needed repair and metal containers with sharp projections, were dumped in these cages.

The ostriches at Gunung Lang, did not look at all happy, nor healthy. Their feathers were sparse and unhealthy, their eyes dull. They were severely dehydrated and there was no water supply. One trough, which should have had water in it, had been removed from its frame, whilst another had only a small amount of brackish water.

Some deer were housed with the ostriches. They also looked unhealthy. They were lethargic and didn’t come to investigate us, as normal healthy animals would. They appeared to be dehydrated and were lying or standing on waterlogged ground. It looked like some of the deer were eating their faeces. Isn’t this a sign of boredom, stress, a lack of minerals in their diet or perhaps, malnutrition?

Other cages housed guinea fowl and turkeys. These birds also looked unhealthy.

Why has the mayor allowed such terrible practices to continue? Is he not ashamed that with Visit Perak Year (VPY) 2012 just around the corner, Malaysia’s reputation as a nation which ill-treats its animals will be highlighted by the foreigner?

As a local, many of us find that our complaints fall on deaf ears and that action is only taken by the authorities, when a foreign tourist makes a big issue of it.

If the MBI cannot properly manage these bird and animals, and if MBI cannot pay for the regular services of a vet, then these animals and birds should be put down to end their suffering.

Jokers in charge

Those in charge of tourism in Perak are excited about VPY 2012. However, these people have their priorities confused. They must realise that tourism is not just about an increase in the number of hotel rooms, or of places to eat.

Tourism is also about health, hygiene and human considerations towards animal welfare.

What good is an eatery if we have no clue about keeping out streets, toilets, kitchens and drains clean? Several people complain of irregular rubbish collections, drains which remain clogged and restaurants where the rodents are as large as domestic cats.

What is the point of a recreational park, which is covered in litter and broken amenities? Why should we have caged animals if we won’t care for them? Tourists will not be impressed by a park in which animals are suffering a slow and lingering death.

The MBI, the Ipoh mayor, the tourism department of Perak and the state executive councilor for Perak tourism, Hamidah Othman, must realise that VPY 2012 should be more than just restaurants, hotel rooms and a fancy launch for the VPY 2012 logo. A successful VPY must also include animal welfare.

Both Roshidi and Hamidah should investigate why animals kept in cages and enclosures in the Gunung Lang recreational park are kept in terrible conditions and they must do something about it. It should not be up to members of the public to continually catch the MBI with its pants down.

Malaysia Chronicle

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