Porcupine Rendang: Pos Malaysia, what are you thinking of? — Amar Singh HSS

JANUARY 16 — At a time we are rendered speechless by the actions of our people, we fail to find the right adjectives to describe our shock. One such occasion happened to me when I read yesterday that Pos Malaysia is planning to release “exotic food themed” postage stamps on three of Malaysia’s exotic dishes, i.e. “sea cucumber salad, turmeric fried grasshoppers and porcupine steak and rendang”. (see Bernama: http://www.bernama.com/en/news.php?id=1694888). I am not sure what Pos Malaysia is trying to communicate by highlighting these dishes. Their philately unit head, Diyana Lean Abdullah, proudly said “There were actually many exotic foods in our list, but we’re confident the ones we’ve chosen are unique and enjoyed by many.”

I would like to raise a number of issues related to this statement and stamps.

Firstly, is Pos Malaysia the only organisation or group of individuals that are not aware that the whole world, including Malaysia, is facing an enormous decline in wild animal life? Conservative estimates put wild animal reduction globally by 60 per cent, including insects and sea cucumbers (grossly overexploited). So why promote the eating of a porcupine? While the rest of the developed world is desperately trying to save wild animals, Pos Malaysia is encouraging the eating of insects and wild animals. I acknowledge that many of us eat meat, but that is primarily from animals reared in captivity.

Secondly, some porcupines in Malaysia are protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, including the Malayan Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura). By issuing these stamps Pos Malaysia will inadvertently encourage the hunting and eating of this and other porcupine species in Malaysia.

Thirdly, what kind of message is Pos Malaysia giving to the world about Malaysia? Definitely not that we are a progressive and ecologically sensitive nation, but more that we are a backward one. These stamps and the message they convey will also damage tourism.

Finally, there so many better things to promote about Malaysia – our wonderful nature and landscape, our diverse wildlife and birds (without eating them), the beautiful different cultures, our sport heroes, our varied handcraft, etc. Are we so lacking in subject matter that we have to turn to “exotic food themes”?

I hope the relevant authorities, including the Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) will step in to prevent these stamps from being launched and ban them.

* Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS is a Senior Consultant Paediatrician.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.