The Taiwan Animal Protection Party, the nation’s first political party dedicated to advocating animal rights, was yesterday founded in Taipei, in a bid to make the animal rights movement a part of the political scene.
Hundreds of people, including Buddhist monks and their followers, politicians and businesspeople, attended the party’s inauguration, at which a vote for a party leader was held.
The party was founded with the support of Buddhist organizations, which yesterday held a blessing ceremony for animals, while politicians, many of whom are affiliated with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), including former KMT legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), gave speeches.
Taiwan Animal Protection Party executive officer Hua Pei-chun (華珮君) said the party was founded because the nation did not have a party dedicated to animal rights.
While politicians might support the animal rights movement on an individual level, their party affiliation might prevent them from supporting progressive animal welfare legislation, Hua said.
“The animal rights movement has a large support base, but its momentum is diffused by different campaigns. The legislation of progressive laws requires consistent output and solidarity. That is why the party was founded,” Hua said.
Hua, who formerly worked in direct marketing and has no experience in animal rights advocacy, said party members would participate in elections in a bid to clinch seats on local councils, or even in the legislature, to represent animal rights.
The party plans to establish chapters and volunteer programs in cities and counties nationwide to raise awareness of animal welfare issues before taking part in elections, she said.
The party is also preparing to help local governments with staffing and fundraising to prepare for the “zero euthanasia” policy, which is to take effect in February next year.
“We have the determination to enter politics. Political involvement is the most direct way to change the system,” she said.
The party said it aims to improve conditions for farmed animals and promote humane slaughtering, referencing a campaign calling for an end to animal cruelty involved in live pig auctions and slaughtering launched by the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan.
However, the party has yet to provide a policy platform, as no specific objective or plan was announced at the convention.
Animal Protection Policy Watch Alliance executive director Huang Tai-shan (黃泰山) said the government has captured and euthanized more than 1.3 million dogs since the enactment of the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) in 1998.
Huang called on the public to empathize with animals and pay more attention to their conditions.
The party has 300 registered and expects membership to reach more than 3,000, Hua said.
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