Sunday May 13, 2012
Place greater value on an innocent man’s life
The Sunday Star Says
A PET dog belonging to a banned breed escapes from its house compound where it was unsecured and bites a passer-by on a public road unprovoked.
The man dies as a result. The local council fines the dog owner RM1,000 for negligence. There is no charge or penalty for owning a banned breed of dog.
The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) takes custody of the dog, with apparently no further plans other than some medical tests.
Police continue investigations and await post mortem and DVS reports, while the Attorney-General’s Office has yet to decide whether to charge the owner at all.
Malaysians are upset by this seeming official indifference to the tragic death of an innocent man. Will there be a summary verdict of “death by misadventure” and “case closed”?
It would be different if all this was only a matter of cool, measured steps in accordance with the law without undue haste. But there is no assurance of that.
The violent death five days ago of Yip Sun Wah, 74, who to neighbours was a friendly resident of Subang Jaya, was wholly preventable.
Action according to existing laws and to the extent the laws are applicable is therefore only to be expected, although not yet evident.
As in all such cases, what ensues would send a clear message to all dog owners who may be criminally negligent or unlawful in owning banned breeds. But the message so far is not encouraging.
The only penalty on the killer Pit Bull’s owner is a paltry sum much less than the cost of buying a pedigree pup. Has the life of a Malaysian senior citizen dropped so low?
In Malaysia before and elsewhere, a killer dog is routinely put to sleep while the negligent owner is penalised with tougher measures. There is no sign of anything like that now.
At other times, local councils have contracted dog catchers who have gone overboard and shot innocent pet dogs even in their own compounds.
If two wrongs do not make a right, why do local councils lurch from one extreme to the other over pet dogs without getting it right?
As if by conscious choice, common sense is far from common, sound judgment is a rare luxury, and basic justice has been replaced by public outrage.