A bill regulating the prevention and control of animal epidemics was reviewed in detail for the first time by the Legislative Assembly’s First Standing Committee yesterday.
Introduced by the committee’s president, Ho Ion Sang, the initial title of the bill was Animal Epidemic Prevention and Veterinary Law. The actual bill submitted to the legislature, however, is titled the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law.
According to Ho, the Executive branch intends to handle issues relating to domestic and livestock animals separately.
“The government advised that the aim of the legislation is to separate animal epidemic prevention from veterinary and animal-related commercial operations,” explained the lawmaker. “There will be two different pieces of legislation supervising the two practices.”
The bill proposes that if a veterinarian becomes aware of or suspects an animal epidemic, a report should be made to the responsible government department within 24 hours.
With regards to this proposed provision, some members of the committee expect future law enforcement could be difficult. Currently, Macau has no legal framework to recognize and regulate the establishment and operation of veterinary centers, nor for accrediting and monitoring veterinarians. As a result, the committee members made a request to the government for an explanation.
The bill has also set forth conditions of a disclaimer for the Municipal Affairs Bureau. After the enactment of the law, if any, when the bureau becomes required to mass-slaughter animals on the grounds of suspicion of an animal epidemic, the owners of the animals will not have the right to seek compensation from the government.
However, some committee members have studied the laws in effect in Taiwan and Hong Kong, which have mechanisms for compensation. In reality, compensation was given to affected animal owners when the two jurisdictions were forced to mass slaughter animals during an epidemic.
This bill also authorizes the Chief Executive to issue orders relating to quarantine and prohibitions. Violators will be prosecuted. However, this provision overlaps with a similar one in the Animal Protection Law. The committee thus enquired of the government which legislation should prevail. AL