Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No to Pandas, Yes to Rhinos

Source: (By P Ramani 14/10/2013)
The government should not spend on lavish Panda projects but re-direct the money to saving Sumatran Rhinos instead, says Segambut MP.
Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng wants the government to disclose the annual expenditure to upkeep the two Pandas for the next 10 years. The government would need to pay the fee to the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), for the loan of a pair of Pandas, loaned to Malaysia by China as a form of goodwill. The DAP MP said that the Malaysian government entered into an agreement with the CWCA on June 16, 2012, to lease a pair of Giant Pandas for 10 years. The pair – Feng Yi (female) and Fu Wa (male) are expected to arrive in Malaysia at the end of this year.
It was disclosed by the Natural Resources and Environment (NRE)  that veterinary officers will be sent for special training skills on Panda grooming in China, Singapore and Thailand.
At a cost of RM 24.9 million, the Panda Exhibition Hall housed at Zoo Negara is expected to be completed on November 2013. Construction costs of the exhibition hall is funded by the government with donations from a private company. The NRE Ministry however did not disclose the name of the donating company. MAS Cargo Sdn Bhd will sponsor  transportation of the Pandas from Chengdu to Kuala Lumpur.
The Zoo Negara has also purchased an approximate, RM 600,000 (for two ) per year insurance for the Pandas.
Lim is asking the Malaysian government to disclose the total cost that will be incurred over the 10 year lease but the NRE Ministry has failed to furnish details in their written parliamentary reply to him.
Promote and Save Sumatran Rhino
According to Lim, he will persist with his questions and will bring the issue up again, during the next parliamentary session scheduled for next week. Referring to an unknown report, Lim said the Pandas in Chiangmai, Thailand incurred an estimated annual lease cost of RM6.36 million.
The two endangered Pandas are on a 10 year loan from CWCA to commemorate strong diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia.
The New Straits Times reported that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had requested for the Pandas during a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jian Bao to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. China is famous for its ‘Panda diplomacy’, using the Pandas as diplomatic gifts.
The Segambut MP wants the government to re-direct its spending towards saving the Sumatran Rhino instead. This local animal species is deemed due for extinction in the near future.
According to Lim there are only an estimated 100 Sumatran Rhino’s left in the surrounding jungles of Sabah Borneo and “we would be saving our local animal species.”
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