Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The September 21, deadline set by Alor Gajah Municipal Council for the pig farmers in Paya Mengkuang, Bukit Beruang and Kampung Man Kok to reduce the pigs from 160,000 pigs to 48,000 pigs as has gone by and till todate the pig farmers have been able only to take out 23,824 pigs. The pig farmers are now given until October 4 to reduce the pig population. It is going to be an uphill task to reduce 97,241 pigs in ten days or so. Thus, it is inevitable that another tense situation perhaps even worst than the events of September 4 to happen. For politicians from either divide, it provides them an excellent opportunity to gain political mileage.

Some have instinctively claimed that the action of the Alor Gajah Municipal Council smacks racism. Now these people unlike the long suffering residents neighboring the pig farms, fail to understand that pig farms emit nauseating smell which permeates the air for miles. Thus, it isn’t surprising to observe that even the Chinese (unless they are in the trade) often do not want to live close to areas where pig rearing activities take place. So it is inappropriate to look at this issue from a racial perspective.

Now, everyone knows that Chinese rear pigs for pork. Pork is part of the Chinese diet. Pig rearing in areas such as Paya Mengkuang is also not new. Pig rearing farms in these areas have been in existence for more than 30 years. The State Government and the Alor Gajah Municipal Council would not have become mired in the present situation had they from the onset regulated properly the pig farming industry. They ought to have known that pig farming can cause environmental problems if not properly regulated.

The relevant authorities in granting license to pig farmers ought to have made it a condition requiring the farmers among others not to exceed the permitted quota of pigs allowed at any one time in the farms and also requiring pig farms to have proper sewerage and solid waste management mechanism. The lack of environmentally friendly pig rearing farms in the state could be blamed on the state and local authorities own policies and indifferences.

Most pig farmers have been reluctant to spend money simply because the authorities are not prepared to not only gazette but also alienate land for pig rearing.

Due to the insecurity of tenure, many pig farms have instead antiquated sump pits to neutralize the noxious smells. Many sump pits are not even maintained properly. Some pig farmers take the easy way out by releasing the solid waste into the drains which naturally and inevitably finds its way into the rivers and seas and thereby causing immense environmental damage.

So the fault must also lie with the local authorities for creating the situation. Had the authorities provided the security of tenure which the pig farmers needed, in return the pig farmers would have been prepared to invest in proper sewage and waste management mechanism which do cost million of Ringgit. No right thinking pig farmer is going to spend millions installing sewage and waste management and create environmentally friendly pig farm when he lives with the fear that the authorities may anytime revoke his business or take way his land.

It must be remembered that many countries like Australia and Denmark have large environmental friendly pig farms and the reason for the success – clear and fair regulations.

One wonders what has happened to all the Lawatan Sambil Belajar to Denmark, Holland, Australia and Japan to learn about environmental friendly pig rearing. It can safely be assumed that these study tours like many others were nothing more then junkets (Riadah dan Relaks) at tax payers expenses.

It is unfortunate that the authorities lack of foresight and their failure to regulate and set the ground rules has now made the issue to morph and become racial and religious. Chinese on one side alleging that the state is meddling without offering solution and help while the Malays blaming the Chinese for being insensitive.

Norman Fernandez