The Abandoned Animals Protection Association of Macau (AAPAM) held a demonstration starting in Praça do Tap Seac Sunday, urging the legislature’s 1st Standing Committee to go through the articles of the animal protection bill quickly and submit it to a plenary session for an article-by-article vote as soon as possible so that it can come into effect still this year.
The association said about 800 people joined the protest, while the Public Security Police (PSP) said 380 people took part, with participants taking their cats, dogs and even a tortoise with them.
AAPAM Chairwoman Yoko Choi Wing Chi commented that the activists have held similar demonstrations since 2008, adding that in the last few years the number of animal abuse cases her group has received has not decreased.
Choi said she hoped the animal protection bill will become law and come into force still this year, adding that many people are under the misconception that it has already come into effect.
Legislators passed the government-drafted bill’s general outline in a plenary session in October last year. Subsequently it was sent to the 1st Standing Committee, headed by lawmaker Kwan Tsui Hang, and now committee members are in detailed discussions with government officials about the bill’s articles. Afterwards it will be submitted to another plenary session for an article-by-article vote.
The demonstration began at 4:30 p.m. and participants walked to Rua do Campo before heading to the city centre and then to the legislature. A participant, surnamed Seow, said she thought the bill had already been passed only to find out on Saturday that lawmakers need to discuss it further before it can legal effect. “The most important thing is that once it becomes law, I want it to be implemented,” she said. “It has been too long and we can’t wait.”
Wu Chi Kit, an artist who joined the demonstration, said animals needed to be protected and people needed to stop those who abuse them. “You see pictures of animals with their jaws dislocated and their legs broken. They feel pain and… that’s why we need to stop such abuse and the only way is to have the laws enacted,” said Wu.
The demonstrators arrived at the Legislative Assembly an hour later where the group’s leaders handed in a petition to a staff member of the legislature. AAPAM member Josephine Lau Pui Chan said the group had gathered 816 signatures for the petition, adding that those who signed the petition also provided their opinions ranging from regulations for animal shelters to the police’s role in handling animal abuse cases.
The petition asks the legislature to speed up the process of passing the bill.
She also said that some articles in the bill were vague. “For example, it says the police and the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) jointly handle animal abuse cases, but when citizens encounter an urgent situation, should they call the police or the IACM first? This point is not clear,” she said.
Lau said she hoped that next time they can get to organise a celebration for animals’ rights and protection. “We have been working hard with our supporters on this for seven years, without them we would not have reached this point.” (macaunews/macaupost)