Wednesday, December 2

Animal rights activist files suit against sports board

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KOTA KINABALU: An exco member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Kota Kinabalu yesterday filed a suit against the Sabah Sports Board (SSB) over the mysterious death of some 10,000 fish at the man-made lake at the Likas Sports Complex jogging track here recently.

Cheryl Joanne Chan, who is also the youth leader and public relations officer of the SPCA, filed the suit through her counsel Marcel Jude Joseph at the High Court registry at about 10am.

The 25-year-old animal rights and environmental activist is seeking, among others, compensatory damages in favour of plaintiff and the other class members against the defendants, for all damages sustained as a result of defendants?wrongdoing, in an amount to be proved at a trial, punitive damages, pre-judgement and post-judgement interests and other reliefs as the court may deem just and proper.

Chan contended that the suffering and death of the 10,000 fish was a gross act of cruelty to animals and would rely on Sections 2 and 3 (e) of the Cruelty to Animals (Prevention) Ordinance (Sabah Capt.31).

Under the Ordinance, “animal” means any bird, beast, fish, reptile or insect, whether wild or tame.

The Ordinance also stipulates that every person shall be guilty of an offence; who shall cruelly beat, ill-treat, torture, overdrive or overload, or cause or procure to be beaten, ill-treated, tortured, over-driven or overladen any animal; who, being in charge of any animal in course of transport from one place to another, neglects to supply such animal with sufficient food or water; who shall carry or cause to be carried any animal in such a manner or position as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering; who shall employ or cause to be employed in any work or labour any animal which in consequence of any disease, infirmity, wound, sore or otherwise is unfit to be so employed; who, being in charge of any animal in confinement, causes any unnecessary suffering by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting to do any act, or neglects to supply sufficient and proper food and water to such animal.

The offence is liable, upon conviction before a magistrate, to a fine of five hundred ringgit and to imprisonment for six months

In addition, the plaintiff said that she will also rely on Sections 21 and 25 of the Enviromental Quality Act (EAC) 1974.

She pointed out that Section 21 states that the Minister, after consultation with the Council, may by regulations specify the acceptable conditions for the emission, discharge or deposit of environmentally hazardous substances, pollutants or wastes or the emission of noise into any area, segment or element of the environment and may set aside any area, segment or element of the environment within which the emission, discharge or deposit is prohibited or restricted.

Section 25 stipulates that no person shall, unless licensed, emit, discharge or deposit any environmentally hazardous substances, pollutants or wastes into any inland waters in contravention of the acceptable conditions specified under section 21.

Under the Act, “inland waters” means any reservoir, pond, lake, river, stream, canal, drain, spring or well, or any part of the sea above the low water line along the coast, or any other body of natural or artificial surface or subsurface water.

She said that SSB owes a duty to her and the class members to exercise reasonable care in the construction, inspection, repair and maintenance of the Likas lake

She alleged that the SSB breached their legal duty by failing to exercise reasonable care and acting with reckless, wilful and wanton disregard for the class members, in the construction, inspection, repair and maintenance of the Likas lake.

She further alleged that the suffering and death of the 10,000 fish was caused by the negligence of the SSB for failing to properly maintain the Likas lake in such a manner that pollutants were released therein causing death to 10,000 fish.

Also, for failing to properly and routinely inspect the Likas Lake and to conduct tests on the waters to ensure its waters were safe, especially for the 10,000 fish;

Furthermore, the death of the 10,000 fish would not have occurred had the SSB exercised the degree of care imposed on them.