The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry is said to be one of the first few ministries to engage in greater public consultation before tabling a proposed act
PUTRAJAYA: The proposed Animal Welfare Bill 2012 will “hopefully” be tabled in 2013 following feedback by the public and NGOs to have it legislated as soon as possible, said the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry.
A first round of online public consultation conducted by the Veterinary Services Department had received “overwhelming positive support”, according to Deputy Minister Chua Tee Yong, briefing reporters at the ministry’s office here.
Within the 14-day public consultation period held between June 19 and July 6, a website specifically for comments on the Bill, received 2,421 responses. Of those, 90.9% were supportive of the proposals being put in.
“After this feedback is analysed, we will put up the Bill, including any amendments, online next month for another round of public feedback.
“The ministry initially was going for three rounds of such consultation but decided that only two will be sufficient due to the calls by NGOs for the bill to be passed quickly. We hope that we can get it tabled by 2013, because we don’t want to delay,” he said.
After a second round of consultation, the bill will then be considered internally, where the Attorney-General will go through it and it will take several months before it would be ready to be tabled in Parliament.
Chua said that from the survey, the public was most supportive of the section on transporting animals and was more critical of the “exception” clauses, which talk about culling of animals in situations of emergency or diseases.
“There are comments that are emotional, and also comments that are valid. We do care about all the feedback and comments.”
“When we talk about the exception clause, we are talking about situations of madcow disease or bird flu where there must be a way to cull the animals to protect human lives,” he explained, adding that the majority of the respondents were pet owners.
The proposed legislation, he added, would prohibit the shooting of animals for the purpose of culling except during emergency situations.
“We’re hoping that more industry players and associations will give us feedback in the next round, or even contact us directly, ” he said.
Summarising key points of the Bill, Chua said that the new bill would include laws on the licensing, transport and general animal welfare when they are being kept as pets and livestock.
He said that there is also a new preventive order for repeat offenders.
“Let’s say an animal transport business has been found to have mistreated animals; we can issue an order prevent them from doing so for sometime,” he said.
Under the proposed bill, NGOs will play a greater role as they can be empowered to be the “eyes and ears” for the ministry, said Chua.
“At least they know what steps are required to ensure a case can be brought to court. The current problem that we have is that people help, but we don’t have enough evidence to charge an offender,”he said.