The government is aware that a birdhouse is a ‘new booming industry’. However, it is not adequately regulated. This was the answer given by the Minister (of Housing and Local Government) through Question Time in Paliament on July 10 , 2008.
“ The swiftlet farming industry in Malaysia was duly recognized as a valid contributor of important foreign exchange currency for the country by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in 2004 with the gazetting of the "Guidelines on Swiftlet Farming" for all local, district, municipal and city councils throughout the country.
The Guidelines require that only premises within commercially zoned areas as well as being registered as commercial premises with the relevant council, which have not been designated as a Class 1 Heritage Building can be converted into a swiftlet farm.
The Guidelines also require that certain standards and levels of premises upkeep must be adhered to in areas of noise, health, pollution, scope of renovation works, building façade, rendition and lighting be adhered to before swiftlet farming licences can be issued.”
The guidelines governing the running of birdhouses are already in place. It was specified that though birdhouses are forbidden in housing estates, they are allowed in the shophouses within.
The Housing and Local Government Minister had answered in Paliament that he would request the local authorities to ‘tighten enforcements of the guidelines’.
The guidelines are more of rules and regulations and may not be perceived as having the strength of a piece of legislation. As such there is a lot of leeway and common sense governing the handling of such birdhouses until now.
On July 13, 2008, a concerned reader ‘ML’ mailed to the Star with a heading ‘Keep swiftlet farms out of Geoge Town’ where he said,
“ …Ask anyone who has the misfortune of staying near one of these farms and you would hear complaints ranging from the incessant bird noise from speakers used to attract the swiftlets, unpleasant chemical smells from bird attractants, increased mosquitos from the stagnant water pools in the farms, bird droppings and…….
Many complaints have been made to the city council but so far their enforcement has been inconsistent..”
Again, enforcement is mentioned and the lack of it seems to be the reason for a lot of complaints and disapprovals of folks in the vicinity of these converted shophouses.
Interestingly, inconsistency in enforcement may be the result of
a)this being a relatively new industry here
b)those who convert the shophouses are not that responsible and considerate enough (though they risk running foul of the authorities and their investments may be in jeopardy)
c)those responsible for enforcement may not be aware of the norms of the business.
By implication therefore a birdhouse in an outlying area or a rural setting away from urban centres would be ideal. Our projected birdhouse in rural Kuala Pilah would likely be able to meet many of the provisions of the guidelines. It is a stand-alone birdhouse structure far away from others to be a nuisance to anybody.
Mr T, our consultant had earlier advised that we would have to determine and be aware of all the ‘dos and don’ts’ of the industry.It would help us and it would also get us on the good side of the authorities.
He said we should attend the designated seminars endorsed by them. Information not readily available elsewhere can be obtained at these seminars. A certificate is issued which is currently accepted as a “licence to operate the business’. Short of anything else, the authorities had to fall back on whatever that can make it convenient for all concerned.
For this, birdhouse owners ought to be thankful and reciprocate likewise to make it easier for the authorities and also for themselves.