Email Message to Overseas on Penang’s Response To The Rabies Outbreak And Requesting Putrajaya To Officially Invite Overseas NGOs To Give Expert Advice And Supply Needed Rabies Vaccines For Dogs (e/c)

Press Statement by the Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng on 25 September 2015:

The Penang State Government will try to ask Putrajaya to send the official invite to the international rabies organisations like World Veterinary Services(WVS) and other like-minded organisations who wish to help.

Thanks for your concerns. The rabies outbreak erupted in Perlis and Kedah more than a month ago. Dog culling has been done more extensively in these two states without any public outcry because being BN states and they did not publicise it. So far 2,000 dogs have been culled in Kedah and Perlis compared to less than 500 in Penang. Perhaps that is why no one noticed this until Penang was hit when rabies crossed over to here. We decided to be open and transparent so that the public, especially pet owners, can be alerted to protect their dogs.

Of course Penang has been solely targeted by animal NGO activists who are allowed to demonstrate daily in Penang if they so wish without interference, but dare not do the same in Perlis and Kedah. Again only Penang leaders including myself, have met with animal NGO activists because the BN govt leaders in Kedah and Perlis ignore them. I have never spoken to WVS but my EXCO/State Health Minister has.

Despite our transparency and reaching out, we remain targetted for doing what was done months earlier in Kedah and Perlis to the extent that some threatened not to vote for the overthrow of the Penang Pakatan Harapan state government. Perhaps Penang should fall back to BN for them to realise what they are getting.

I cannot answer for the Department of Veterinary Services in Putrajaya why this and that was not done earlier. The Department of Veterinary Services is under the Federal Government. So if certain international organisations require an official letter of invitation to come here or other protocols, the right agency they should address is from Putrajaya and not from the state government. I cannot issue any official invitation as I do not have the final authority – Putrajaya has. That includes the issue of bringing them into Malaysia and whether the vaccines are acceptable.

I will request Putrajaya to issue the official letter of invitation but that final decision is up to them. I believe that they will do so because we have run out of or are short of vaccines for dogs.

My role is principally in declaring Penang a rabies infected area. Only the Penang Chief Minister can sign that authorisation for the state of Penang. I decided to sign it when I was provided with the recommendations of the experts from the Malaysian Veterinary Department and Health Department of the health crisis we are facing. To protect human lives and pet dogs coupled with insufficient vaccines, I had to accept their recommendation and issue the order.

I can only cancel the order when the rabies outbreak is over or if expert recommendations by the veterinary or health services say so.

Since we took over the Penang state government in 2008, we did not conduct any culling of dogs like what was done under the previous BN administration. BN had outsourced it to 2 private companies for profit. Culling was done then even though there was no rabies outbreak. Between 2003-6, each stray dog killed was paid RM80 and 6,054 stray dogs were culled at a cost of RM484,000 – huge profit to the two BN crony companies those days. We stopped this practice when we took over. Now due to the rabies outbreak, the culling is conducted by government officials, not outsourced to private companies for profit. We do not shoot the stray dogs with bullets unlike in other states but with tranquilizers before putting them to sleep.

I have one dog, a stray that I took it upon myself to quietly adopt after seeing it on the streets in my constituency in Butterworth 6 years ago. It is a painful decision for all of us in the Pakatan Harapan state government to accept the culling recommendation by our experts in the Veterinary Services and Health Department, but a necessary one to contain the rabies outbreak to protect both humans and pet dogs.

Thank you.

Lim Guan Eng

=====Mandarin Version —

槟州首席部长林冠英于2015年9月25日在光大发表声明:

电邮回复国外询问关于槟城如何应对疯狗症以及要求布城正式发函邀请国外非政府组织提供专业建议,并提供狗只所需的疫苗。

我们将会要求布城正式发出邀请函给国际疯狗症组织如世界兽医服务(WVS)及其它愿意帮忙的组织。

谢谢你的关心。早在一个月前,玻璃市及吉打已经爆发了疯狗症。“选择性人道毁灭狗只”这项措施已经在这两个国阵州属进行,但由于他们没有公布因为没有引起公众反弹。目前在吉打及玻璃市已有2000只狗被选择性人道毁灭,在槟城只灭杀了不超过500只。或是这就是为什么没有人注意到,直到疯狗症入侵槟城。我们决定公开及透明化,尤其通知宠物的主人保护狗只。

当然,槟城成了非政府动物组织的众矢之的,他们希望不受对付,他们可以每天在槟城示威,但是他们不敢在玻璃市及吉打示威。再说,也只有槟城的领袖包括我本身,与非政府动物组织见面,因为吉打及玻璃市的国阵政府根本不理会他们。我没有与世界兽医组织交谈过,但是槟州掌管卫生的行政议员已经与该组织联系。

尽管我们透明化并愿意接见相关组织,但是当我们执行这项一个月前已经在吉玻两州的措施时,我们还是招到群众非议,甚至一些人威胁说要让槟州希望联盟政府倒台。或许,槟城应该重新让国阵执政,好让这些人知道后果。

我不能代替布城的兽医局回答为何这个没有做、那个没有做。兽医局是联邦政府管辖。如果特定国际组织要求一纸公文或其它礼节以便前来,他们应该联系布城,而不是州政府。我不能发出邀请函,因为我没有布城的权力。这包括把他们请到马来西亚、疫苗是否能被接受的课题。

我会要求布城发出正式邀请函,但是最后的决定取决于他们。但我相信他们会答应,因为我们的疫苗已经用完或短缺。

我的角色原则上是宣布槟城为疯狗症疫区。只有槟城首长可以签署有关声明。我决定根据马来西亚兽医局及卫生局的建议而签署,因为我们面对的是人命关天的健康问题。在疫苗短缺情况下,为了保护人命及家犬,我必须接受他们的劝告,发出选择性人道毁灭令。

我只能在兽医局或卫生局专家指出疫情已经结束,我才能够撤销上述指令。

自从我们于2008年接管槟州,我们没有像前朝国阵政府那样对狗只进行选择性人道毁灭。国阵曾经外包两间公司谋利。当时就算没有爆发疯狗症疫情,他们也进行灭杀。2003年至2006期间,有关公司灭杀一只狗便可获80令吉,灭杀6054只狗便可获48万4000令吉,那个时候对那两家公司来说是巨额利润。我们上台后已经停止这么做。现在由于疫情爆发,选择性人道毁灭是由政府官员进行,不是外包谋利。我们没有像其它州属那样用枪弹射杀野狗,我们是用麻醉药及网捕后,才将之人道毁灭。

我家也有一只狗,那是我六年前在我北海的选区静静领养的流浪狗。槟城希望联盟政府必须依据兽医及卫生部的建议,忍痛做出这项艰难的决定,进行选择性人道毁灭狗只,以遏制疯狗症疫情,以保护人命及家犬。

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