Rabies scare: Uggah censures local daily, chief editor for making false allegation

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah

KUCHING, Sept 6: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas yesterday slammed a local daily and its chief editor over false allegations that the state government commits cruelty against animals, saying such “irresponsible reporting” could spark chaos.

“I was shocked when I saw the newspaper and the headlines. I immediately rang the writer and spoke to him on this matter as it is a very serious allegation.

“Immediately after that, I instructed the writer to join us for a meeting at the Veterinary Department’s premises in Mile 9, Jalan Muara Tuang,” said Uggah after officiating at the 20th Congress Catholic Committee of Nurses Guild and Medico Society Association (CICIAM) here yesterday.

Among others, the veteran journalist had penned that stray dogs caught in the ongoing operation to control the spread of rabies were killed by drowning at the state Veterinary Services Department to save cost.

Uggah, who heads the State Disaster Management Committee, said the visit to the department proved that nothing of the sort had happened, but lamented that the fake news had tarnished the name of the department and alarmed the public.

“I appeal to all to help us by not reporting unsubstantiated news. By the time the news comes out, it has gone viral all over the world, causing panic. This is very irresponsible and unethical,” he pointed out.

Due to the seriousness of the matter, state Veterinary Services Department director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud has lodged a police report against the local daily because the false allegation could endanger his staff.

Uggah said the department’s staffers were very offended as the news was splashed on the front page, was highlighted in red, and there are many dog lovers in the state. He cautioned that such news could instigate the people to take drastic actions out of anger.

“If what we did is wrong, then write it. But please write what is the truth. Just because someone tells you something bad is happening does not mean you can write and publish it without verifying the facts,” Uggah said.

When prodded whether the veteran journalist revealed his source, Uggah said, “I asked the writer for the source of his story, but he refused to reveal.” — DayakDaily