Only Putrajaya can decide whether international organisations dealing with rabies, such as the World Veterinary Services(WVS) and other like-minded organisations, can help out in the disease outbreak in the state, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
Lim said he could not answer for the Department of Veterinary Services in Putrajaya as to why this was not done as the department falls under the federal government.
“So, if certain international organisations require an official letter of invitation to come here or other protocols, the right agency they should address is Putrajaya and not the state government,” Lim said.
“I cannot issue any official invitation as I do not have the final authority. Putrajaya has, and that includes the issue of bringing them into Malaysia and deciding whether the vaccines are acceptable,” Lim said in a statement.
“I will request Putrajaya to issue the official letter of invitation but that final decision is up to them. I believe that they will do so because we have run out of or are short of vaccines for the dogs,” he added.
Lim said this as animal rights groups and individuals continued to blame the state for dog culling instead of vaccinating them to prevent the spread of rabies.
He reiterated that his role principally was to declare Penang a rabies-infected area, and he did so based on recommendations of experts from the Malaysian Veterinary Department and Health Department on the health crisis as a result of the spread of rabies.
'Dog culling more extensive in Kedah, Perlis'
To protect human lives and pet dogs, coupled with insufficient vaccines, he had to accept their recommendation and issue the order to cull infected dogs.
“I can only cancel the order when the rabies outbreak is over, or if expert recommendations by the veterinary or health services say so.”
Lim said the rabies outbreak erupted in Perlis and Kedah more than a month ago and dog culling has been done more extensively there.
“There had been no public outcry in those states as these are BN states and they did not publicise it.
“So far 2,000 dogs have been culled in Kedah and Perlis, compared with less than 500 in Penang,” Lim said.
He said Penang decided to be “open and transparent” on the rabies issue so that the people, especially pet owners, could be alerted to protect their dogs.
“Penang has been solely targeted by animal NGO activists, who are allowed to demonstrate daily in Penang if they so wish to, without interference. But they dare not do the same in Perlis and Kedah.
“Again, only Penang leaders, including myself, have met with animal NGO activists because the BN government leaders in Kedah and Perlis ignore them,” Lim added.