We refer to what Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Minister Douglas Uggah Embas said in 'Malaysia not sacrificing local animals for pandas', and it looks like the programme is purely a commercial decision and nothing at all to do with conservation or education.
This comes at a time when both the NRE and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) are facing heavy criticism for 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 NRE devote time, money and human resources bringing animals from China to Malaysia? Does the NRE feel no shame despite various reports being sent to them about cruelty and exploitation happening across zoos in Malaysia? Why do we still don't see changes?
It's an embarrassment that regular, caring citizens have to do the job that authorities in Malaysia are paid to do. It was regular Malaysians who unveiled the ongoing ill-fated luck of animals in zoos here. We also notice that in most places where cruelty and exploitation is going on, zero or very little changes have been made even after the NRE were reminded many times to take action. What a farce.
We also feel Yayasan 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), should instead correct what is not right in our zoos, which are mostly pathetic, compared to Singapore's one zoo, a world class zoo which puts Malaysia to shame. For example, has anyone in the NRE and Perhilitan seen the orangutan enclosure in Singapore zoo?
The NRE 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 NRE’s top priority along with curbing the rampant illegal trade in wildlife. The NRE owe it to the people of Malaysia, especially future generations, to care for as well as protect wild animals already in Malaysia.
UPRESHPAL SINGH is the founder of Friends of the Orangutans (fotomalaysia.org).