Petition on animal welfare sparks raging dispute

 

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) councillor and animal rights activist, Anthony Thanasayan (right), has lodged a police report over what he claims are threats against his being that were recently posted on the Facebook page of an NGO.

The wheelchair-bound councillor claims his life is being threatened by three individuals who left “nasty comments” following the appearance of an article The Star which was said to be written by him and which was shared on the Facebook page of Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB).

Under the comments section of the article titled, “Problems of stray are solely caused by animal lovers”, one commenter vowed to push the writer “off his wheelchair if he doesn’t stop barking soon”. The writer of the article wrote under a pseudonym.

Another individual supported the move, while another MDDB Facebook follower said she “pray(s) hard that (the writer’s) Rottweiler, German Shepperd and all his dogs one day will bite him.”

Thanasayan has told Komunitikini that he did not write the article.

He says that MDDB’s founder, Parimalawani Muthiah, should not have allowed the threatening posts against him on the MDDB Facebook page.

“MDDB is creating a hate campaign against me, the words amount to criminal intimidation which is an offence under Malaysian law,” he claims.

Muthiah says she has never been asked to remove the said comments by Thanasayan.

“Anthony only wrote something on his blog (about the comments), but he never called to ask me to remove the comments,” she adds.

Activists versus councillors

Muthiah tells Komunitikini that MDDB members have “all the right to be angry” with Thanasayan.

She claims Thanasayan once bluntly accused an MDDB member a “liar” after the member had exposed poor condition of Klang Municipal Council’s (MPK) dog pounds in Bandar Sultan Sulaiman in December 2009.

The member had provided photographic evidence of stray dogs being kept in the pound that were distressed and possibly infected with disease.

MDDB then demanded that the local council reconsider the massive dog catching operation it was then running.

“However, Anthony called for a media interview and said we fabricated the evidence,” says Muthiah.

She said Thanasayan also implied that MDDB members were “stupid” in an interview last month with Free Malaysia Today, where he criticised animal welfare groups as being “hypocrites” who were only good for “throwing stones” at local councils instead of engaging and educating them on how to handle animals humanely.

That report was followed by the article above in The Star, which was posted by MDDB on its Facebook page, where the pseudonymous writer again claims the problem of strays is solely the fault of so-called animal lovers.

Kicked out of the petition

The latest flare-up in the dispute between animal welfare groups and local councillor Thanasayan is understood to have been caused by the latter’s exclusion from a petition on animal welfare organised by the former.

The online petition was prompted by the recent YouTube video featuring Batu Pahat Municipal Council workers capturing and killing a stray dog in a cruel manner. Among other things, the petition calls for pet owners to spay and neuter their pets and for more effective penalties against animal abusers.

It has been signed by 16 animal welfare groups, including the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Paws animal welfare society, and Save A Stray. At the time of writing, 13,000 signatures have been collected.

The petition was presented to social activist, Lee Lam Thye, on June 5 and will be presented to the prime minister when it has 50,000 signatures.

Thanasayan claims MDDB had lobbied hard for his NGO, Petpositive, to be removed from the petition, and says that Petpositive was among the first to sign it.

MDDB, on other hand, says it was the petition organiser, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), that removed Petpositive after Thanasayan’s newspaper disparaging remarks against animal welfare groups.

It is understood that MDDB and Thanasayan differ on what the policy should be on euthanasia: while the former advocates for strays to be rounded up, rehabilitated and put up for adoption, the councillor thinks that unwanted or ailing strays should be put to sleep humanely.

 

Thanasayan has told Komunitikini that he did not write the article.

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