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Animal farm

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image Paulo Coutinho

If the (draft) law (on animal rights) is more specific, if it only applies to pets like in Hong Kong, then maybe it would be adequate to Macau’s reality.”
The above words by AL President Ho Iat Seng, in a long interview with Jornal Tribuna yesterday reminded me of a story I wrote 22 years ago about the Chinese traditional diet and the emerging fast-food culture in greater China – about the time MacDonald’s opened its first diner in Beijing. The idea was to assert how much and how fast fast-food was transforming the eating habits of the Chinese people and what would be the consequences of that change.
So I dug for data on the topic, interviewed people from the food industry - nutritionists and a pediatrician. In the process I stumbled upon a delicious story about a court case in 1980s Hong Kong concerning animal rights.
Briefly described, an animal protection group was suing restaurants that cooked and served a very popular delicacy in the then-British colony: drunken prawns, which consisted of boiling shrimps alive in a hot cognac pot. The group’s case: they saw it as an act of cruelty that caused unnecessary suffering for the animal. After a long trial and public debate the court ruled against the shrimp.
Why? It doesn’t matter. (Go dig yourself. You have to learn your law, sorry.)
What matters is that Mr Ho is really saying that here we have some habits – eating habits or otherwise – that may be affected by Pereira Coutinho’s broad approach to animal protection. Like horses, greyhounds, armadillos, snakes, sharks – I could go on.
“Drafts of the Law must adapt to society,” said he. And that says a lot.
The rest, the so-called “idiotic”, “laughable”, “weird” ideas vented in the Assembly are just dust to our eyes. Food for fools.
The shrimp is still being boiled alive.

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