Discussing “holy pigs” begins with human empathy
In August this year, a netizen “Happy Oink” has put forward on the participation platform (Join.gov.tw) the proposal to “stop the holy pigs weight competition ritual” in the hope to reduce the likely sufferings of animals in the process. “Happy Oink” has also used international examples such as Germany, where “a circus has used 3D holographic images to replace real animals to create the world’s most fantastic circus” and Spain, where “the bullfighting festival has used inflatable bulls instead of real bullfights to enable children to take part and understand the meaning of life” to encourage the adoption of more diverse, animal-friendly ways to replace traditional pig breeding and ritual sacrifices.
Facing this proposal, the National Development Council, the responsible agency of the Join platform, began by inviting the relevant ministries to clarify the scope of powers and responsibilities and the work division. On the one hand, the Council of Agriculture Executive and Hakka Affairs Council are the primary organizing agencies, and the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of the Interior are the subsidiary organizing agencies; on the other hand, it has been decided that this case should use a collaborative meeting method to collect the different opinions of various circles in order to achieve a mutual understanding.
Before the collaborative meeting, the four ministries mentioned above also reached a basic position based on the government’s long-term governance principles: when holy pigs are being used for ritual sacrifice and are a part of folk religious and cultural activities, governments at all levels should refrain from applying laws or punishments or adopting other methods of coercive intervention; instead, various counseling measures should be used to help pig breeders raise pigs in a more natural way. At the same time, more encouragement and incentives can be provided so that temples and groups handling the relevant activities have an opportunity to find benevolent ways to perform rituals that both respect religious piety and safeguard animal protection.
Accordingly, the theme of the collaborative meeting has been set as follows: “How might we discuss alternative ritual proposals self-initiated by the people?”
🙋 At this point, readers may want to ask the question: as the government has already decided against intervening, is there still a need to conduct a meeting? Actually, the focus of the “collaboration” is not the extent of the government’s involvement in people’s power; rather, the focus is that through the mechanism of informed discussion, every stakeholder, including the government, can actively take part in a rational discussion in a respectful and inclusive setting and hear each other’s thoughts and difficulties, thereby promoting understanding between different members of society, minimizing confrontation and hostility, and maintaining a complete record.
To sum up, the six recommendations produced by this collaborative meeting may not have fully satisfied any one party. However, such an opportunity for dialogue can indeed enable proponents, animal protection groups, temple representatives and pig breeders with initially divergent positions to move one small step forward in the same direction.