Sat, 2006-10-07 02:00
By Janaka Perera - Asian Tribune
Colombo, 07 October, (Asiantribune.com): Speaker of the House, W.J.M. Lokubandara addressing a World Animal Day meeting at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress Hall, Colombo on Wednesday, October 4 wowed to extend his maximum support for a total ban on cattle slaughter in Sri Lanka .
Mr. Lokubandara, a vegetarian, recalled that he had prevented a certain minister's attempt to introduce buffalo slaughter but the karmic effect of the latter's despicable action had caused the politician to lose his Parliamentary Seat and to land himself in jail. The Speaker condemned crass ingratitude of humans in slaughtering an animal that helped them to till the land and provided them with manure and milk for children.
"The cow is like a mother to us," he said
Mr.Lokubandara told those present that when he saved five heads of cattle from the butcher on the 12th birthday of his youngest son he found that one of the animals was pregnant. When it gave birth, it meant that he actually saved the lives of six animals.
The Speaker further said that unless a total ban on cattle slaughter is achieved within the term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, it would never be realized.
There is no better period than this 2550th Buddha Jayanthi Year to strive for this, the Speaker stressed. According to him, when President Rajapaksa's father and uncle entered politics their opponents had belittled them saying that were mere cattle breeders and cowherds (since they owned a large number of these animals). Hearing these uncalled for remarks, Bantis Ranaweera, a well-known Sinhala poet of that era had quipped, "It is a better to have cowherds in Parliament to control the buffaloes there!"
The Sri Lanka Animal Welfare Trust under its Chairperson Iranganie de Silva organized the meeting that drew both Buddhists and Hindus.
Dr. Chandana Jayaratna, Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics, Colombo University screened several video films that showed animal slaughter (both in Sri Lanka and abroad) in horrifying and blood-curdling detail proving that not all creatures with a human appearance are really humans. Dr. Jayaratne told the audience that he and others of the Meth Saviya group had collected 100,000 signatures to protest against cruelty to animals and emphasized the need for more organizations to join this campaign.
He however said that certain vested interests want to cripple their efforts. He noted that attempts had even been made to tarnish the images of a leading cardiologist (Dr. D.P. Atukorale) and a Buddhist monk who were in the fore front of the campaign to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote vegetarianism. He said that it was a shame that non-Buddhist countries like Sweden had strict laws to prevent cruelty to animals, whereas Sri Lanka still had no such laws. Flesh eaters among humans were to prone to more illnesses than vegetarians; Dr. Jayaratne stressed and explained to the audience the medical aspects of it.
Attorney at Law and Consultant, Law Commission, Senaka Weeraratna who drafted the Animal Welfare Act that is expected to be passed in Parliament early next year, said that the Draft Act is a substantial document that took nearly six years in preparation. He said that the Draft Act has been handed over to President Rajapaksa, who in turn had handed it over to a new line ministry – the Ministry for the Preservation of Botanical and Zoological Gardens. The Ministry has been ordered to oversee obtaining Cabinet approval for the Act and to interact with the Legal Draftsman's Department on this matter.
The primary objectives of the draft legislation are (a) Establishment of a separate National Animal Welfare Authority (b) Redefining the term `animal' to include all animals, including strays (c) Inclusion of the clause `Duty of Care,' which places legal a legal obligation on persons in charge of animals to see to the welfare of animals in their care (d) The appointment of animal welfare inspectors empowering them to take relevant action when necessary (e) Increase the maximum penalty for cruelty to animals to a Rs. 50,000 maximum fine or three years in prison (f) To introduce a statute to regulate the use of animals for scientific research (g) The right of any adult person (apart from the animal's owner) to intervene in court proceedings in the best interest of the animal, since under the present laws animals are treated as inanimate objects and (h) Banning home slaughter and permitting it only under supervised conditions in duly licensed slaughter houses.
Among the others who attended were Minister of Indigenous Medicine and Religious Affairs Deputy Minister Tissa Karaliyadde, Professor Sumanapala Galmangoda of the Kelaniya University's Pali and Buddhist Studies Faculty, Dr. Punchi Nilama Meegaswatte, Mallika de Mel, the Venerable Ahangama Ananda, the Ven. Denipitiye Ananda and the Ven. Pitakotte Jinasiri.
- Asian Tribune -