By Mei Kuan
Taiping-born Malika Devi Ramiah Oates, who was honoured with the Iron Lady Award 2019 recently, shared her commitment to animal welfare with Ipoh Echo.
Malika went to the United Kingdom in 1971 to train as a nurse and subsequently was operating theatre manager right before early retirement. Trained in London and moved to Chelmsford Essex after marriage, she is currently residing in Ipoh.
“We relocated to Malaysia from the UK in 2005. My husband, Victor Oates, found an injured puppy by the roadside and took her to Dr Ranjit, a veterinarian in Ipoh who told us all about the strays. We adopted the injured puppy and she is still with us. Then, Dr Ranjit founded Noah’s Ark Ipoh in 2009 and it all started from there,” she explained, citing Dr Ranjit as her mentor. Noah’s Ark Ipoh (NAI) was the pioneer for TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release).
What keeps her doing what she is doing? “I feel great when a tiny abandoned puppy or kitten pulls through and finally gets adopted. Or when an injured dog or cat is able to walk and play. Disabled animals are amazing. We are showing an act of compassion and kindness which can be mirrored by all watching, especially our children,” she enthused.
Like many other animal welfare groups, helping and rescuing strays are no mean feats.
“Lack of manpower and funding hold us back. Many think that we should drop everything and attend to their SOS calls without understanding that we are unpaid volunteers with daytime jobs and families. Some callers can be rude and abusive too,” she added.
When asked on her thoughts on Perak’s journey to animal welfare improvement, she opined, “We have so many people problems to solve before any time is given to animal welfare. We are working on the stray population in Ipoh. The key is education. Unless the public take on responsible pet ownership, we will continue to have strays on the streets. It’s a human problem. People who do not neuter their pets but continue to let them roam are contributing to the stray population. A cat can reproduce every 3 months while a dog every 6 months. Owners who cannot keep the litter will abandon them and the circle continues.”
“Animal welfare volunteers are forever pleading with people not to buy but adopt. We have nothing against pedigrees, but it will be wonderful if people adopt too. Most local dogs and cats are just as pretty and often highly intelligent. It’s important to see past their imperfections if any, as these animals have so much to give,” she highlighted.
Here’s her precious advice for aspiring animal advocates: “Don’t be scared to help. Making a phone call and expecting the volunteers to rescue is not enough. Donate towards the care and make it your contribution to the community. Highlight animal abuse as there are laws to protect animals.”
Deeply humbled by the Iron Lady Award, the amiable Malika concluded, “Being a voice for the voiceless is hard work. We are often questioned on why we spend our energy fighting for animal rights. My answer to that is simple. They are God’s creatures and have every right to share this planet as you and I. Therefore we have to speak up for them.”