The Abandoned Animals Protection Association of Macau (AAPAM) held a demonstration for animal rights on Sunday.
The demonstrators started out from Praça do Tap Seac and marched to the Legislative Assembly (AL) where they handed in a petition, signed by 1,252 people, to an official of legislature.
According to Josephine Lau Pau Chan, one of the organisers of the protest and the vice-chairwoman of the association, about 3,000 people took part in the protest. According to a Public Security Police (PSP) spokesperson, 1,500 people attended.
The protest was organised in response to the government’s decision to amend several articles in its animal protection bill. The association has held a number of animal rights protests over the past years.
The government said early this month that it had decided to lower the proposed maximum prison sentence for animal abuse from three years to just one year. Government officials also told lawmakers the maximum jail term for causing bodily harm to another human was only three years, and it would be unfair to treat humans and animals alike.
Last week, after a meeting of the 1st Standing Committee of the legislature, lawmaker-cum-unionist Kwan Tsui Hang, who chairs the committee, said the government had decided to remove a clause which mandated that stray animals were to be neutered in order to control their numbers, a removal that baffled many legislators. She also said that the government had proposed that violators could pay the lowest fine if they pay within a specified period.
Lau said one of the goals of the demonstration was to show people’s opposition to the lowering of the maximum prison term to just one year for animal cruelty, urging the government to keep it at three years as it was in the original bill, adding that the police should be in charge of the enforcement of the law, instead of officials from the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), in order for it to be more effective as a deterrent.
While some participants in last week’s Macau Forum debate programme hosted by TDM said that the maximum prison term of three-years should remain unchanged, others said society would more readily accept the newly-proposed maximum of one year behind bars than the originally suggested three-year term.
Lau also questioned the government’s decision to remove the spaying article from the bill. She urged the government to pass the bill quickly.
AAPAM Chairwoman Yoko Choi Wing Chi called the proposal, which said violators, could pay the lowest fine if they pay early “a joke”.
She added that if the legislature passes the revised bill as it is, her association would continue to march for animal rights.
Choi also said Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On should take an active role in the process, urging him to listen to the voice of the people.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the march, a local resident surnamed Chang, a regular participant in animal rights protests, said he couldn’t accept the government’s proposal to allow violators a discount if they pay their fines early.
Some of the protesters were accompanied by their canine friends. (macaunews/macaupost)