‘Pet mystery box’: China’s dog and cat mail-order craze causes new outrage

May 07, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership
Original reporting by Alice Yan, SCMP

An illegal cat and dog mail-order courier operation, which offered an online pet sale gimmick also known as a ‘pet mystery box’, has been exposed and shut down by animal rights activists in Southwestern China.

Chengdu Municipal Postal Administration in Sichuan province revealed this week that it had launched an investigation into courier operation Hehuachi Station of ZTO Express for sending live animals through the postal system.

Volunteers from Chengdu Love Home Animal Rescuing Centre found workers at the delivery station had packaged a total of 156 cats and dogs into separate boxes before couriering them in vans, state media CCTV reported.

When the volunteers arrived at the station in the city’s Jinniu District earlier this week they were greeted by screeching animals. The animals were found wrapped up in boxes with plastic bags, making it difficult for them to breathe. The volunteers also found four dead animals.

“Once the doors of the van close, the animals in it will definitely be suffocated to death,” Chen Yulian, founder of the animal centre said.

Chen said the delivery station did not feed the animals before delivery to prevent them from defecating during transit. She added that when animals died during transportation, workers would just dump the bodies on the side of the road.

China Youth Daily reported that the animals were sold by Chengdu Sanlian Flower and Bird Market as “pet mystery boxes” to online customers.

China’s Postal Law bans the sending of live animals, however, pet mystery boxes have become popular on online websites in the last year, with customers not knowing what type of animal they will receive until the box arrives.

It only costs 20-30 yuan (US$3.10 to US$4.64) to buy a pet mystery box, sometimes as cheap as only 9.9 yuan (US$1.53), China Youth Daily reported.

“Both the seller and the delivery company are crazy! Do they have any conscientiousness?” wrote one user on Weibo.

“I am extremely outraged! These small animals are so poor. I beg the public not to buy any of these boxes any more,” another commenter said.

Residents in the neighbourhood of the delivery station told CCTV that the station had packaged and transported live animals for the last six months, usually under the cover of darkness.

“I make a living by doing the courier service. I have only a primary school diploma. I don’t know of any laws,” a manager from the courier station told CCTV.

“For anyone hiring me to send products, I will just do it,” said the man, whose name was not given in the report.

Following the scandal, Shanghai-based ZTO Express has ordered Hehuachi Station to suspend its operations pending an inquiry.

The rescued animals have been sent by the agricultural authority to quarantine.

According to the agreement between the Sanlian Flower and Bird Market and the animal rescuing centre, these animals will be taken care of at the centre.

The centre said the animals will be available for public adoption in the future.

Malay PAP and WP MPs silent on PA saga with some refusing to comment

Jun 16, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Political leaders in positions of power have the privilege and the platform to chime in on matters concerning the community with the hope of reining in the outrage before it escalates into something worse.

Unfortunately, all the current Malay MPs from both the People’s Action Party and Workers’ Party either did not wish to comment on the PA saga or did not respond, according to TODAY.

Various Malay community leaders and former MPs gave their views on the matter when approached

Mr Zainal Sapari, former MP for Pasir Ris–Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC), said that he would not frame the recent incident as a case of racism.

“I believe PA is true in its cause of promoting racial harmony and social cohesion,” the former PA grassroots adviser said.

“Despite their best efforts, such incidents do happen and will happen again in future, but I would not frame it as racism.”

He also hopes that this incident “does not dampen the spirit of many volunteers who want to serve the community, but may make some bad judgement calls unintentionally”.

“We should just apologise, learn from it and move on,” he added.

Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, former Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that the reactions to the incident should be one of understanding rather than taking on an accusatory tone.

“We need to continue to learn from each other — how do we appreciate each other’s cultures and differences and bring about better understanding and harmony — rather than to start pointing fingers,” the former Aljunied GRC MP said.

Mr Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, an interfaith activist and founding board member of the Centre for Interfaith Understanding, said that racism cannot just be confined to an act of an individual or a particular incident.

He said in a Facebook post on Tuesday — which he confirmed with TODAY was a response to the PA incident — that racism is a “structure, and a system of thinking and doing, that can manifest in an individual, group or social organisation through a style of thinking, speech and communication, law and policy, and physical action”.

“One has to go to the root source and identify what makes the individual think, say and act in a particular way,” he said in the post.

“Doing so would bring us to a point where we say it is not his, her, their or my problem, but it is our problem; that there is something wrong in the way we organise society.”

When asked to elaborate on his post, Mr Imran told TODAY that given the sensitivity of the issues concerning racism, we “must learn not to rush into saying that something is racist or not”.

He said that racism is experienced at the “everyday level” and one should be careful not to dismiss and invalidate the experiences of racism, especially among minorities.

“Instead, we must learn to ask ourselves what racism looks like, especially to those who are at the receiving end... Racism feels real, even if we don’t believe so.”

Mr Hazni Aris Hazam Aris, vice-chairman of AMP Singapore, a non-profit group serving the Muslim community, said that there needs to be a “paradigm shift” in how inter-racial relations are approached and understood.

“The types of conversations on race must progress beyond festivals and clothes, and move into understanding values and worldviews that shape how members of a race thinks or behaves.”