What Causes Animal Crimes In Malaysia?
Since 2014, World Animal Protection has ranked Malaysia with a “grade C” on the Animal Protection Index. In other words, Malaysia’s animal welfare policy and legislation are considered average. This ranking is, in part, due to the country’s high number of animal-related crimes.
The Animal Welfare Act 2015 was created to reduce animal abuse in Malaysia. It defines the rights of animals, including proper care, shelter, and food for companion, farmed, and wild animals. Practices like animal fighting and mutilation are illegal. The Department of Veterinary Services enforces this law and investigates issues related to animal welfare. However, the authors of this paper point out that animal-related crimes continue to happen in Malaysia, many of them going unreported. This literature review investigated the factors that influence animal crimes in Malaysia.
The authors highlight the importance of cultural attitudes. For example, studies show that those involved in animal-related incidents tend to perceive animals as property rather than sentient beings with rights. This perception may be driven by systemic issues like industrial animal farming, which normalizes animal suffering.
Previous studies also underline the impact of social and economic factors. Animal abuse, for example, is associated with areas of poverty and high unemployment rates. These populations have limited resources to ensure proper animal care, and the authors point out that they may be driven to engage in animal abuse as a source of income or because of social pressure.
Finally, evidence shows that when animal protection laws are not effectively enforced, they are more likely to be violated. Insufficient training in law enforcement hinders proper investigation and prosecution. In Malaysia, criminals are often charged under the Penal Code instead of the Animal Welfare Act, which results in less severe punishment and, subsequently, repeated crimes. One public official shared that 276 animal cruelty complaints had been filed between January and September 2021, but only 39 were investigated while eight of those were tried under the Animal Welfare Act.
As potential solutions, the authors recommend increasing public concern for animals through collaboration with animal welfare organizations. The underlying issues of poverty and unemployment must also be addressed — the authors point out that the health and welfare of humans and animals are intimately connected. Finally, animal advocates should guide authorities to create legislation that respects animal sentience, and these laws ultimately need to be adequately enforced.