What’s with the eggs, Mr Minister?


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What’s with the eggs, Mr Minister?
By Zan Azlee

I have always found a majority of Malaysians as being apathetic in many things, and more specifically, regarding the conservation of the environment and wildlife.

It’s as if they know and understand the reasons for it, but are just not taking it seriously and choosing not to do anything about it. I don’t seem to understand this behaviour.

It’s just like racism. Many of us say that we aren’t racist, but then have no qualms about making sweeping racial statements that we say are jokes. Get real!

Anyway, the recent controversy about Rural Development and Regional Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob being at a dinner where turtle eggs were served is my point of contention.

Photos of him sitting at a dinner table, apparently in Sandakan, Sabah, with a plate of turtle eggs, which are highly protected and of which possession and consumption is illegal, have been making the media.

Sea turtles are a totally protected species and what the photo purpotedly shows is an offence under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Section 41 of the enactment states: One can be fined RM50,000 or even jailed for five years, or both, if found to be in possession of these animals or its products, which include its eggs too.

Ismail has come out saying that he did not consume the eggs because he has high cholesterol and is on medication for it. That’s his justification. Sufficient? I think not.

Does it mean to say that if his cholesterol wasn’t a problem and he was in the height of health, he would have gladly consumed the eggs regardless of it being protected and illegal?

Then there are those who say that the minister shouldn’t be blamed because he was just a guest at the dinner and the real fault is on the host for serving the eggs.

Wait a minute.

So an elected government leader, who is a lawmaker in Parliament, and in a position of authority, does nothing when he sees a blatant abuse of wildlife in his country?

Should he not have spoken out about it to show the importance and seriousness of committing such a crime? Would that not be the right thing to do rather than keep quiet and act normal?

We all know the seriousness of conserving and protecting wildlife, especially those on the endangered list. It plays a big part in the ecosystem, and definitely for the country.

But as I have said. Malaysians are an apathetic bunch. We seem to know and understand but are just not bothered to do anything about it. Sad and annoying at the same time.

So although I agree that the organiser and host of the dinner should be investigated and if found to be guilty of serving turtle eggs, then the appropriate action be taken against them.

But I also believe that Ismail, as a Federal minister, should not be absolved. By being at an event where the eggs were served and not saying or doing anything, he becomes part of the problem.

Just like the saying goes, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem”. And what’s worse is the fact that Ismail is in a position to address the problem.

[This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]

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