PETALING JAYA: Animal rights activists have accused the little-known Animal Welfare Board, formed by the government seven years ago, of being disconnected from those directly involved with animal welfare.
Karin Lee of Give for Paws, a society that helps homeless animals, said it was essential for the board to be in touch with the NGOs, activists, and rescuers on the ground to truly grasp the dire situation of animal welfare in Malaysia.
“At present, we have issues ranging from irresponsible pet owners, backyard breeding and reckless reproduction of animals.
“There is a need for stricter spay and neuter policies for strays rather than the archaic catch and kill policy,” she told FMT.
She said with the involvement of NGOs and activists, the Animal Welfare Board stood a better chance of tackling the apathetic attitude towards animals in the country.
Lee added that Malaysia was not lacking in laws, budget, and structures to manage animal welfare effectively and humanely. What was missing, however, was effective enforcement, work ethics and political will.
The board came into the news last week when the HIgh Court in Kuala Lumpur ordered it to reveal its activities since its formation.
The court order was obtained by animal rights lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan who filed a discovery suit when it refused to disclose its work to him.
Rajesh said the board had stated that its information about its activities were protected by the Official Secrets Act. However the High Court instructed the board to submit an activity report detailing its work since its formation.
Another activist, Ranjit Kaur Mendhir of Noah’s Ark Ipoh, said the lack of public knowledge about the board’s activities over the years suggested that it had a lackadaisical attitude towards improving animal welfare.
Ranjit, whose society focuses on reducing the population of stray cats and dogs in Ipoh, could find no reason for the board to state that its activities were under the Official Secrets Act.
She said one of the board’s functions was to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. She asked what accomplishments it had to show over the years.
The board is a statutory body established by the Animal Welfare Act and is empowered to promote animal welfare, provide public education, and advise ministries on matters relating to animal welfare.