PARLIAMENT | The government will hold talks with the Chinese government over the status of the Giant Panda Conservation Programme next year, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said today.
Xavier said the negotiations were in line with the requirements of the agreement, which provides a revision every three years on the placement of the cubs of giant pandas Xing Xing and Liang Liang, which have been in Malaysia since May 21, 2014.
"We have signed a Giant Panda Conservation Programme agreement until 2024.
"But the negotiations will have to be carried out with the China Wildlife Conservation Association later on whether to continue keeping the giant pandas with the second cub," he said when winding up debate on the Budget 2019 at the committee stage for his ministry in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Xavier added that the government had allocated RM4.65 million this year for the cost of managing the Giant Panda Conservation Centre in Zoo Negara, which will increase to RM7.38 million next year.
"The RM2.73 million increase is due to the agreement between Malaysia and China, the government has to pay a ‘one-off’ conservation fee at an estimated RM2.38 million," he said.
The giant panda pair was loaned by China on May 21, 2014 to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.
Under the agreement between the Malaysian and Chinese governments, the giant panda pair would remain in the country for 10 years.
The first cub for the panda pair was Nuan Nuan, born on 18 August 2015. It was sent home to China on Nov 14 last year, while the second cub which was born on Jan 14, is still at the conservation centre in Zoo Negara.