Animal rights and the Law – Public forum on 5 March

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Why are cats not allowed in HDB Flats? Did the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) really had no option but to cull those 'noisy' chickens? Why does the AVA euthanize hundreds of Mongrels that come through its doors every year?

Why can't animal welfare groups and/or individuals bring up animal cruelty cases to court? (As the law stands, only the AVA can bring cases to court.) What more can the law do to protect the voiceless?

A recent spike in animal-related incidents has led to heightened public interest and discussion about how we, as a society, should treat animals.

It has even prompted the Member of Parliament for Nee Soon and founder of ACRES, a charity for animals, Mr Louis Ng to file the following questions for the next sitting of Parliament.

2. To ask the Minister for National Development
(a) for each year in the past three years, how much does the Ministry spend on culling dogs, cats and monkeys respectively;
(b) whether the Ministry expects an increase in culling expenditure in the next three years;
(c) whether the Ministry has conducted scientific research on the effectiveness of culling on population control; and
(d) whether the Ministry is conducting scientific research into measures other than culling to address the human-animal conflicts.

Though Minister of State for National Development replied to Mr Ng's questions by stating that culling is used only as a last resort by AVA. However, animal lovers over the years, would know that statement might be far from the reality on the ground.

This Sunday, a Public Interest Law forum entitled 'Sentient Beings? Time to Give a Voice to Animals in Court' will be held in the hopes of addressing the above-mentioned issues and more.

The forum, organized by We Exist Consult, will be the first in a series of Public Interest Law events that it plans to hold.

"Singapore is moving in the right direction on animal rights issues, with the 2014 Act. However, more change is required. The government should be encouraged to amend the rules on legal standing so that more animal cruelty cases can be brought, and not only by the AVA (which still remains cautious or unwilling to bring prosecutions) but also by interested groups and individuals.

When questionable actions are taken against animals by the AVA itself or by the government, there is no avenue to review or question their decisions. How does one appeal against state-sanctioned transgression against these voiceless entities? Will Singapore go down the Australian route so that organisations can argue for standing?

With so many netizens increasingly taking to social media to report and discuss various incidents of animal abuses in Singapore, we are finally progressing as an animal caring society. Surely animals deserve a degree of legal recognition and protection. Surely we human beings are best placed to stand up for the voiceless." - M. Ravi

The forum, will feature a diverse panel of three speakers: Mr Chan Ying-Kit, a PhD candidate at Princeton University and a Animal Lover, Ms Sharon Oh, a Founding Member of Exclusively Mongrels and a Dog Rescuer and Mr M Ravi, a human rights advocate and non-practising lawyer with Eugene Thuraisingam LLP.

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As this article went to press, all the tickets for the forum have been sold out. We Exist Consult have confirmed that there will be no live-streaming of the event via Facebook but videos of the Speakers and the Q&A session will be uploaded onto their Facebook page after the event.

Mr M. Ravi, has urged members of the public who take an interest in Animal Rights issues but did not manage to get tickets to this event to look out for updates on the We Exist Facebook page for future forums, workshops and ways that they can play a part in giving a voice to the voiceless.