The legislature’s 1st Standing Committee President Kwan Tsui Hang said Wednesday that she and her fellow committee members were working hard to scrutinise the government’s animal protection bill, adding that they would do their best to finalise their discussions about the bill so that it can be submitted to a plenary session for an article-by-article vote in August.
Customarily, the Legislative Assembly’s (AL) summer recess starts on August 15.
Observers expect the bill’s passing to be plain sailing, considering that it is no longer controversial per se.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday after a meeting with government officials about the bill in the legislative chamber, Kwan said it was obvious that the public wants the animal protection law to be enacted as soon as possible.
However, she pointed out that the bill comprises more than 40 articles and that the committee so far has only discussed its first 16 articles.
Kwan added that the committee holds meetings every week to go to through the bill. She admitted that it will be difficult to finalise the discussions and submit the bill to a plenary session in the first half of the year. However, the veteran lawmaker-cum-unionist was quick to add that the committee members are trying hard to get things done before the end of the current legislative term, which ends in mid-August.
“We may have two meetings about the bill in February before the Lunar New Year holiday break… and in March the policy address will be delivered [by Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On], and I believe the meetings [about the bill] will [therefore] be suspended until mid-April. So I think it will be difficult for discussions about the bill to be completed by June,” said Kwan.
“But we’ll work on finishing the discussions in August before the end of the [current legislative] term.”
Kwan also said issues that still needed to be addressed include pet owners’ responsibility, such as the environment where their pets live. The lawmaker also said it was high time for the government to regulate the veterinary profession.
She added that when committee members raised the issue, government officials replied that relevant regulations will be proposed after the animal protection bill comes into effect.
She added that the government will introduce a list of endangered wildlife animals as a component of the bill.
Kwan’s remarks came after Sunday’s protest rally organised the Abandoned Animals Protection Association (AAPAM) and attended by several hundred people, many of them with their pets, which urged lawmakers to pass the animal protection bill as soon as possible so that it can come into effect his year. (macaunews/macaupost)