Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A pig of a problem

Continuing from Piggy Politics, based on a malaysiakini news that tells us the Malacca State government has threatened pig farmers in that State to Send the swine elsewhere or they'll be culled.

Pigs are haram to Muslims because Islam says so. And when religion is involved, especially in Malaysia, the problem outgrows that prescribed by the religion itself because of (additional and probably more dominating)inter-ethnic acrimony, distrust and intolerance, a mix of emotions that’s not exclusive to Muslim Malays, but certainly whipped up by our dear wonderful politicians.

As I had blogged earlier in Piggy Politics, the vexed issue of pigs and pork have graduated from mere haram (forbidden or non kosher food) to an abomination, a far worse case of abhorrence than mere prohibited food.

Pigs, pork and piggeries are far less tolerated than samsu (alcohol) or other Islamic prohibitions - eg. gambling (our famous 4-Ekor), womanising, corruption, oppression ... etc. In fact, it's not only 'less tolerated', it's, as I mentioned, an abomination.

But let’s not hide from the fact that the ensuing stench from pigs’ waste is all overpowering, extremely unpleasant (especially at initial contact), and utterly offensive not only to Muslims but to anyone.

But because the stench is from pigs, the issue takes on a far bigger dimension than the assault on our olfactory senses. It could and has even summon religious emotions.

There were some attempts to justify the State government's intention to get rid of piggeries on environment grounds (and I support protecting our environment) but it's not only pig waste that's polluting the waterways but far more deadly stuff like toxic affluence and chemicals, which, like the haram samsu, gambling, cooruption and womanising, were ignored if not tolerated.

Pig's waste or stench can be managed by modern farming techniques but that's not the State Government's desired outcome - It wants to eliminate the existence of piggeries, for political reasons of course.

Likewise with anything that Islam doesn’t approve, like dogs where there is a ‘Pertandingan Menangkap Anjing Antara Jawatankuasa Penduduk’ organised by the Majlis Perbandaran Selayang – cash prizes are offered.

poster thanks to Kean Jin

I have no complaints about rounding up stray dogs for disposal (did the Selayang authority mention 'strays'?), but what about stray cats? Cats actually are more dangerous to human beings for the dioseases they can pass on to us.

More than two years ago I had a bit of (blogging) fencing with Aisehman who raised an important health question, whether pig rearing should be completely banned and every pig culled because of the dangers of viral epidemic.

I countered with my question on cats and birds – the avian flu then posed and still does a far greater danger to human beings. Why don’t we then ban fowls and cats of any type?

Please see my posting Cats versus Pigs - Which go first?

Also please read Pig & Prejudice, with apologies to Jane Austen.

Anyway, if we can put all the emotions aside, we need to ask why we have allowed pig farms to pollute the waterways and the air, the latter through the offensive stench that is unmistakably piggy.

Let’s deal with the stench first.

Would it surprise us if we say that, save for a few exceptions, the majority of cases has been that urban development has encroached on pig farms, rather than the other way around.

When most of the pig farms were set up, they were in a remote part of the State. Inevitably urban development spread outwards and suddenly, hey, WTF is that pig farm doing there, just next to our housing estate?

That this has occurred has been a reflection of poor town planning. The authority should have catered for the avoidance of the farm, most unlikely of course, or removal of the piggery, but alas, it wasn’t done so because the authority either was incompetent or didn’t bother until the general election (or internal party election) approaches.

Do we for one moment imagine that piggeries can exist without some form of official or unofficial sanction or quiet (close one eye) tolerance? Whatever had been the cause(s) behind those sanctions are less important than the fact that (leaving aside the few illegal farms) those pig farms have a legitimate right to be where they are.

Now hear this - malaysiakini reported state Agriculture and Rural Development Committee deputy president Abdul Rahman Pali as saying the state government aims to only allow 48,000 pigs to be reared in the state as opposed to the estimated current number of 140,000 animals.

Of course less is better, but we need to ask Abdul Rahman how the State authority arrived at a figure of 48,000 pigs? I can see it’s coincidentally one-third of the existing piggy population, but where's the scientific or town planning or whatever study to support that figure.

Then Abdul Rahman said the state government has set a Sept 21 deadline for the pig farmers to export 92,000 animals to other states. That's just 2 weeks to go.

As was the case for last year, the Malacca government has a propensity to set impossible deadlines – what logistic nightmare are we talking here when the authority wants 92,000 pigs to be moved to another state within 2 weeks?

To be continued …


  1. Yes, commercial pig farming is always unsavoury if no special steps are taken to manage the waste. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Many developed countries have commercial scale pig farming - without the accompanying massive waterway pollution.
    The key is strict waste management - and it is made mandatory for farmers to adhere to it. Of course consumers will have a price to pay, in the form of more expensive pork. The authorities could also put a cess on exported pork to help pay for the waste management.

    The issue is heavily politicised because on one hand a large part of the population considers pigs “unclean”. And another part of the population suspects the move to shut down pig farming is another Milestone on the road to an Islamic State.

    We all need to do some live and let live in this "island" called Malaysia.

  2. It is a pity those Malaccan pigs have no consideration for their brethern. The actions of the Selayang dogs show that they too have no pity for their canine brothers. All in the name of ketuanan melayu. Hidup UMNO.