From ‘Dog’s death: SPCA gets Remy Ong’s statement’ 21 Feb 2012, article by Lim Yan Liang, ST
…In a Straits Times story on Monday, Mr Ong, 33, said he was unaware that his car’s (Porsche Boxter) licence plate had fallen off until he returned to the scene some 20 minutes after the incident for which, he added, he accepted responsibility.
‘The dog came out of nowhere. I felt a brush so I thought it went underneath the car. But I came back later because I felt something was wrong,’ he added.
Mr Ong, who is in Dubai for two bowling tournaments, told The Straits Times on Monday that he had lodged a police report on Sunday night after fielding queries from reporters.
Asked about the number 300 on his car’s licence plate, the bowler – who expects to be back in Singapore on March 4 – said it referred to a perfect score in a bowling game.
Under the Road Traffic Act, any motorist involved in an accident where a person or an animal is injured must stop to help the victim. The Act defines an animal as any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog.
…Drivers who fail to stop and render assistance after an accident can be fined up to $3,000 or jailed up to a year. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to two years.
The dog run down by Remy appeared to be a mid-sized breed, not a chihuahua, so given that our national bowler had a fleeting glimpse of the animal and had a hunch that it ‘went underneath’, shouldn’t he at least check back right away to see what exactly he went over? Remy already has his fair share of online flaming for failing to attend to an injured animal on the spot, though the attention seems to be more on the fact that he owns a Porsche rather than his apparent gross negligence. But he has accepted responsibility and we await a just punishment, though whether Remy is SPARED (hurr hurr) from penalty, or as bizarrely and unnecessarily reported in the article above, what his damn LICENCE PLATE number symbolises, doesn’t concern me here. It’s how this incident has exposed the relic that is the Road Traffic Act, more specifically section 84: Duty to stop in case of accident.
The list of creatures defined as animals (horse, mule, cattle, ASS, sheep, pig, goat, dog) sounds like this piece of legislation was written during biblical times, or by Old MacDonald (last updated 2002). You have 3 species of ungulates, but ‘pony’ is excluded. You have three farm animals that are as likely to cross a busy road in Singapore as a chicken, and dog is the only common ‘pet’ in the entire list (no mention of cat, rabbit, hamster or chinchilla). Another glaring omission is ‘birds’ and ‘reptiles’, though running over a pigeon, crow or mynah is fine since they’re considered pests by the AVA/NEA. Chances are you’re more likely to run over a python than a goat, and yes, they forgot about MONKEYS too. The list appears to refer to animals traditionally domesticated by man for food or agricultural labour since the dawn of time, which suggests an ancient symbiosis with humans that explains such entitlement (though it doesn’t explain the missing chicken, duck or goose). According to law, it is your DUTY to turn back and save an ASS, but not a pregnant or baby monkey.
But what does the Traffic Police know about animals, you say. This is how AVA defines it in the ‘Animals and Birds Act’, more specifically Part IV Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
In this Part, unless the context otherwise requires, “animal” includes any beast, bird, fish, reptile or insect, whether wild or tame.
It would be fair to say that a genuine ‘hit and run’ felony is a cruel act, ‘cruel’ defined as failure to assist a fellow sentient being even though you are the one responsible for harm. The Act goes on to state that any person who:
a) cruelly beats, kicks, ill-treats, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures, infuriates or terrifies any animal
…d)by wantonly or unreasonably doing or omitting to do any act, causes any unnecessary pain or suffering or, being the owner, permits any unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal;
…shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both
So, has Remy failed in his ‘duty to stop in an accident’, which would cost him a $3000 fine at least, or has he ’caused unnecessary pain or suffering’ by omission and hence guilty of animal cruelty, which amounts to $10,000? If we accept the argument that not bringing a ‘beast’ as defined by AVA to the vet after driving over its legs, and being FULLY AWARE of one’s actions, is considered ‘an act of cruelty’, then you are punishable by law if you so much as knock over a fishbowl or sever a lizard in half, provided someone could prove beyond reasonable doubt that you have indeed caused unnecessary pain or suffering. What’s the point of listing ‘insect’ under the list of animals protected by law anyway? People ‘wantonly’ destroy these critters everyday and you don’t see anyone hauled to court for putting superglue on spiderwebs, do you.