FMT LETTER, From Upreshpal Singh, via e-mail
It looks like the panda programme is purely a commercial decision and has nothing at all to do with conservation or education.
This comes at a time when both the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and Perhilitan are facing heavy criticism for still allowing cruelty and exploitation to happen across zoos in Malaysia.
Why, when so many zoos in Malaysia need either closing or upgrading and animals in almost all zoos need bigger and better enclosures, does the ministry devote time, money and human resources bringing animals from China to Malaysia?
Does the ministry feel no shame despite various reports being sent to them about cruelty and exploitation happening across zoos in Malaysia?
We also notice that in zoos where cruelty and exploitation is going on, zero or very little changes have been made even after the ministry was reminded many times to take action. The grace period for zoos to buck up is over, but still abuse continues. What a farce.
To add insult to injury, regular, caring citizens have to volunteer do the job authorities in Malaysia are paid to do. It was regular Malaysians who exposed the ongoing ill fate of animals in zoos here.
Also, instead of spending money on the panda programme, Yayasan 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) should channel funds to correct what is not right in our zoos, which are mostly pathetic, compared to Singapore’s one zoo, a world class zoo that puts Malaysia to shame.
Has anyone in the ministry and Perhilitan seen the orang utan enclosure in the Singapore zoo? Why can’t the ministry help orangutans in the Malacca zoo? And if Malacca zoo doesn’t bother to look after their orangutans, what hope is there for the orangutans which will be sent from there to Kemaman Zoo in Terengganu? What about the orangutans sent to infamous animal abusers and exploiters, A’famosa Resort?
Both Minister Douglas Uggah Embas and the director-general of Perhilitan have proved to be incompetent, and as a result animals have suffered greatly.
The ministry and wildlife authorities in Malaysia must bear in mind that Malaysians’ attitude towards wildlife and animals in general is positively changing, at quite a rapid pace, and it seems to us Malaysians are sick and tired the mismanagement of animals.
Malaysian animals should be the ministry’s top priority along with curbing the rampant illegal trade in wildlife.
The ministry owes it to the people of Malaysia, especially future generations, to care for as well as protect wild animals already in Malaysia.
The writer is founder of Friends of the Orangutans (Malaysia)