Our Desk | If feeding stray dogs means owning them, does regularly supporting New Yaohan mean owning it?

Anthony Lam

Last Wednesday, local pro-government paper Macao Daily News published a report depicting that local animal welfare groups were not happy with a claim by the Municipal Affairs Bureau on stray animals.
The Bureau understood the Animal Welfare Law as stipulating that regular feeders of a stray animal, or a particular group of which, or who have a habit of feeding stray animals, shall be considered owners of the stray animals.
On top of that, the animals will be considered free-range pets. Otherwise, the feeders will be considered abandoning their pets. Either claim is a violation of the law.
The lawmaker who received that reply, Sulu Sou, was not happy about the understanding in the first place.
It has also prompted creativity among social media users. Saying that, we don’t really need the Cultural Industry Fund or whatever subsidy. On the contrary, we only need officials to “supply” materials for weekly memes.
Back on track, social media users started asking the bureau whether offering food to carton picking elderly – not necessarily homeless though – will constitute to the establishment of filial relations with the elderly.
A comment by the Bureau’s superintendent, the Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong, came timely on Friday.
He said that he feels reserved regarding the “understanding” of the law by the Bureau. He stressed that he would order the Bureau to conduct further study on their understanding.
He added that stray animal feeders will not fit in the subjective and objective premise criteria of criminal violations or administrative breaches.
Cheong’s comments should be reliable for the fact that he has a legal background. He graduated with a law degree and has worked as the director of the Legal Affairs Bureau and the Commissioner of the Commission Against Corruption, before taking one step up the staircase to where he is now.
To calm public sentiment, the secretary stressed that the government is aligned with the community on the topic of animal protection.
Back in April, I asked Cheong’s boss, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng at his first Policy Address press conference, why the Animal Protection Law has been so weak in terms of guarding stray animals against abuse.
The government head attributed that to the fact that there was no case or report.
Given the occasion, I had no chance to explain to the CE that there were actually numerous cases, in one of which a kitten was beheaded and the executor left only the head behind for volunteer feeders to discover.
The government head, nonetheless, assured journalists and the general public, that he would remind the competent secretary – in this case, Cheong – about the situation.
In addition, the police have always boasted their “bright” portfolio of cracking crimes using the public surveillance system. Now, volunteers are asking why the same system has worked incomparably poorly on animal abuse cases.
Yesterday, public broadcaster TDM reported on the municipality caretaker’s understanding.
In Macau, when both the pro-government paper and the public broadcaster taking the same stance on a civic, non-political issue implied that the problem is worthy of more consideration.

Categories Opinion