9 Winning Points You Should Know About Malaysia's New Animal Welfare Bill

The act calls to promote the welfare and responsible ownership of animals.

Cover image via The Star

The long awaited Animal Welfare Bill which has been debated in Parliament for the past 4 years, has finally been passed by the Dewan Rakyat

Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Image via Eco Daily

The Dewan Rakyat today passed the Animal Welfare Bill, which promotes animal welfare and responsible ownership of animal, hence marking another milestone for Malaysia.

Once the law is put into effect, Malaysia will be at par with member countries of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) such as India, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob told the house that the new law, however, would not replace the Animals Act 1953. Instead, it would cover a broader aspect based on the principles on the welfare of the animals.

"This law is to send a message to people not to abuse animals but there are some offences that can be given compounds like failure to display licences," he said.

A live kitten stuffed into a jar

Image via The Star

So what does the bill consist of?

1. Establishment of an Animal Welfare Board

The bill, which was tabled for first reading on April 9, allows the establishment of the Animal Welfare Board, which among others, will monitor the work of associations and organisations established for the purpose of preventing trauma, pain or suffering to the animals.

It will also be working closely with the Education Ministry to introduce the importance on animal welfare to school children.

2. Requirement of a license to carry out activities involving animals

Image via SCMP

The Bill will require for all individuals and businesses which carry out activities involving animals to obtain a licence. Under the licence requirements, owners also have to ensure animals are free from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Animals should also be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns and have suitable environments, diets and housing.

3. A fine of RM100,000 for acts of torturing animals

Clause 29 states cruelty offences include the act of beating, mutilating, poisoning, confining in area that restrict natural movements of the animals, abandoning or the act the owner of allowing such cruelty against the animal.

A minimum fine of RM20,000 and a maximum penalty of RM100,000 fine and three-year imprisonment will be imposed on the law breaker.

4. Practice of ethical animal testing

Image via The Guardian

Malaysian Animal Welfare Act brings hope for the ethical care and use of animals for research. The act includes guidelines such as only allowing research using animals on schools.

It also prohibits breeding of animals in the name of research, testing or teaching. The health and behavioral needs of the animals to be tested should also comply with the board's regulations.

5. Ban on stray shooting

A stray shot by the Penang Municipal

Image via The Star

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob gave his assurance that dogs would be listed as among those animals that could not be shot by local authorities as one way of controlling their population.

"If the local authorities continue to shoot dogs, they can be punished and fined up to RM100,000 under this Bill," he said in his reply to points raised during the debate on the Bill.

6. Enforcement officers are given the power to relieve an animal from distress if a written letter is given by a certified veterinary surgeon

Image via Lipstiq

If an animal is found to be suffering or more likely to not survive and a written letter was given by a veterinary surgeon confirming this, an enforcement officer is given the right to put down the animal.

However, an application to the court needs to be made to notify the owner or the licensee of the animal regarding the action taken on the animal.

7. A warrant is NOT needed to search and seize premises if it could lead to lost of material evidence

Usually, a warrant is needed to obtain evidence or enter a premise to rescue an animal. However, in the event that a delay in obtaining a warrant would risk lost of material evidence, welfare officers are allowed to enter the premise without a warrant.

8. The courts have the power to disqualify or deprive any owner or licensee from owning an animal indefinitely

If a court of law is satisfied that the owner or licensee is unfit to own an animal, the court may deprive he/she of ownership indefinitely. The offence must first be proven beyond reasonable double and fall under one of the sections in the act.

To add, the court will also forfeit any apparatus used in the process of torturing the animal.

9. Failure to comply with an order from a minister could lead to a fine between RM10,000 to RM50,000 or imprisonment for a term not more than 1 year or both

Image via My Facts

A minister is given the authority to make any order as may be expedientor necessary for the better carrying out the provisions of the act. However a failure to comply with any written order will result in a fine of not less than RM10,000 and not more than RM50,000 or imprisonment for a term not more than 1 year or both.

The Animal Welfare Bill is a big stepping stone for Malaysia as the tightening of standards and promotion of animal welfare in the country have long been overdue

Image via SPCA Facebook

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

Image via The Rakyat Post

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor patron, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye when asked about his view on the new bill mentioned,

"I would like to extend my gratitude to all MPs who had eloquently debated and supported this new Act. While politics may divide us, let this Animal Welfare Act unite us all."

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Posted by Najib Razak on Friday, June 19, 2015

We Care International (WCI) welcomes the passing of the long awaited and much touted Animal Welfare Act 2015. WCI applauds the legislature for enacting tangible protection for the animals in Malaysia.

"With this new law, we hope that the grisly plight of animals will finally get the serious attention of law enforcement, prosecutors and the community in cases involving cruelty to animals," they said.

Social media has been a strong platform for greater awareness of animal rights, like in these cases of abuse:

Recently Malaysia has come to know of the Yulin dog meat festival in China

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