BY SILVI WRITER
Malaysia is considering sending a pair of giant pandas back home to China because they are too expensive to look after.
Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister, is reviewing deals made by his disgraced predecessor, Najib Razak, who accepted the pandas on loan six years ago, according to local media.
Xing Xing and Liang Liang arrived in Malaysia in May 2014 to mark 40 years of friendship between the countries. They were expected to remain in the ASEAN country until 2024, according to the original deal between the two countries.
“Renting pandas from China could be the most unfair treaty in the world”, China Press, a Chinese-language publication in Malaysia, commented on Tuesday.
Under the deal agreed between the two countries, Malaysia has to pay an annual rent of US$1 million for the pair of pandas.
The government will hold talks with the Chinese government over the status of the Giant Panda Conservation Programme next year, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said in late November, according to Malaysiakini.
Xavier said the negotiations were in line with the requirements of the agreement, which provides a revision every three years on the placement of the cubs of Xing Xing and Liang Liang.
Xavier said that the government had allocated RM4.65 million (US$1.11 million) this year for the cost of managing the Giant Panda Conservation Centre in Zoo Negara, which will increase to RM7.38 million next year.
“The RM2.73 million increase is due to the agreement between Malaysia and China, the government has to pay a ‘one-off’ conservation fee at an estimated RM2.38 million,” he said.
The first cub for the panda pair Nuan Nuan, born on 18 August 2015, was sent home to China on Nov 14 last year, while the second cub which was born on Jan 14, is still at the conservation centre in Zoo Negara.