Ours is a country where doctors hold patients to ransom until their demands are met. Now it is the turn of confined animals to be treated as hostages.
We heard how staff at the Dehiwela zoo recently held the animals in their care to ransom, to make their demands. The animals were starved and their cages not cleaned while the employees went on strike. This is shocking treatment of the animals, a very sad reflection of our times and the depths to which this country is sinking.
Have we become a nation totally without morals, values, compassion?
While on the subject of animal welfare, I would like to ask what has happened to the Animal Welfare Law?
The Mahinda Chintana pledged to “amend, without delay, the outdated laws on prevention of cruelty to animals” for the reason that its author (then Presidential candidate, now Head of State) considered cruelty to animals “a disgrace to humanity”.
But a law that was comprehensively prepared by the Law Commission to protect animals and look after their welfare has been kicked from one ministry to another for the past several years, with no prospect of being passed in the near future.
Why are the authorities responsible for carrying out this pledge on behalf of the President showing such scant respect for the President’s orders?
By neglecting to bring this law into force, they are only harming the image of their leader. Meanwhile, animals – the helpless victims of our cruelty and negligence – suffer. They are subjected to shocking cruelty, and even agonising deaths.
A country that hopes to be truly developed must also be civilised. Its rulers should not only be educated but also enlightened.
Mahatma Gandhi said the greatness of a nation is judged by the way it treats its animals.
Introducing the Animal Welfare Law will truly be a fine beginning for Sri Lanka to achieve that greatness, even if it is going to take a long, long time.