MIRI: A call has been made in the Dewan Negara for stricter laws to curb the increasing cases of cruelty towards animals in Sarawak.
The national Animal Welfare Act enforced by the Federal Government in 2017 needs to be extended to Sarawak, where such legislation is already 20 years out of date, said Senator Alan Ling Sie Kiong.
Ling raised the issue with the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry during the Senate session in Parliament on Tuesday (May 7).
“There must be uniformity in laws in the country to protect the welfare of animals.
“The national Animal Welfare Act must be extended to Sarawak … we must also work with the Education Department to start awareness campaigns in preschools, primary and secondary schools, to inculcate love for animals from young,” he said.
Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin replied that the ministry had held discussions with the state’s leaders on the need to upgrade such laws.
However, Sarawak has not come to any agreement with the Federal Government on this yet, he added.
The Star has been highlighting many cases of cruelty towards domesticated pets and wildlife in Sarawak, but the issue does not seem to have been taken seriously by state leaders.
There are increasing complaints that pet shops in Sarawak are selling animals in cruel conditions, keeping them in tiny cages for months without much room for them to move around.
Such complaints have come not only from locals but also from expatriates living in the city here and elsewhere in the state.
Yet, neither the local council nor any other government agency seems to have taken any action.
“Are there no laws at all in Miri or Sarawak to govern the way animals are kept or sold in pet shops?
“How can we claim to be a civilised society if such inhumane treatment of animals is allowed to persist?” said expatriate Patrick Ewanga.
He added that he had visited pet shops in Miri and has seen animals – kittens and adult cats, puppies, small-breed dogs and rabbits – cramped into tiny cages.
“These poor creatures cannot even move around. I noticed they are kept like this for months on end.
“I have tried taking pictures and videos but the workers always stop me,” said Ewanga.
Datin Dona Drury Wee, president of the Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), said it has received many similar complaints about such acts not just in Miri but in other parts of the state, including Kuching.
“Whenever we receive such complaints, we will forward them to the local councils and the Veterinary Department if it involves domesticated animals, or to the wildlife authorities if it involves wildlife species.
“However, It is frustrating that such cases persist. The enforcement on humane treatment of animals must be stricter,” she said.