Monday, January 13, 2014

Days of illegal swiftlet farms numbered

KUCHING: The state government has not gone after swiftlet farms in shophouses in towns for a long while, but it would be foolish of operators to take this silence as consent.

The government will eventually act as such farms cannot be located in shophouses, cautioned Assistant Environment Minister Datuk Len Talif.

The Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 clearly states that if any species were to be bred, it must be done in its natural habitat.

Len said the state government maintained its stand on prohibiting shophouses to be used as swiftlet farms, and the Forestry Department is still the authority in charge of this matter.

“Shophouses should not be used as swiftlet farms. In the first place, it is a nuisance. The noise made by the swiftlets or by the machine is very irritating.

“Secondly, it is a nuisance because of the smell. Most importantly, the farms’ proximity to human habitat may pose as danger because the swiftlets may carry diseases.

“Some swiftlet farmers may argue they keep their farms clean. However, the swiftlets may be subject to diseases. So the farms should not be too close to the human habitat,” said the Belawai assemblyman to The Borneo Post yesterday.

He was told of an observation where a lot of shophouses in small towns such as Tanjung Manis, Balingian, Mukah, Dalat, Matu Daro had been converted into swiftlet farms.

Len said towns in the central region, such as Sibu, Sarikei, Mukah and Bintulu, had the most number of such cases.

“Just imagine you are at a coffeeshop that is next to a swiftlet farm. How do you feel?”

To swiftlet farmers whose farms are in shophouses, Len, who is also Promotion of Technical Education Assistant Minister, advised them to move their operations to the rural areas.

To those who plan to convert their shophouses into swiftlet farms, he advised them not to risk losing their money for they would be flouting the law.

Len said when he was head of the Forestry Department, action was taken against swiftlet farms in shophouses.

“We submitted an investigative paper to the state Attorney-General for the owners of the shophouse swiftlet farms to be charged, but until now we are still waiting for his recommendations.

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