10-YEAR-OLD MEGAN TAN’S SPEECH ON ANIMAL RIGHTS IMPRESSED MINISTER SHANMUGAM

I took part in the Asia for Animals Conference this morning. It was hosted by ACRES. It is a regional conference with participants from over 30 countries. A determined young girl, Megan Tan (10 years old), gave the key note address!!! I was very impressed with Megan’s speech.

Megan is a primary school student studying at Maha Bodhi School. She is already volunteering at ACRES – ACRES had to lower their volunteer age for her! She wrote her speech herself. I was told that Megan is a very shy girl. Thus it must have been difficult for her to stand in front of an international audience and give a speech. But she decided to make the speech because of her deep care and concern for animals .
She shared with us her journey, motivation and efforts in animal welfare advocacy which include designing and drawing creative covers for notebooks – she found sponsors for her notebooks, and will donate the proceeds to animal welfare causes! Her deep passion for animal welfare activism and determination to make a difference to the lives of animals, came through. I attach her speech (which was delivered with creative pictures at the conference). Well done, Megan!

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Megan’s speech.

Good morning, Minister Shanmugam, Uncle Louis, and guests.

My name is Megan and I am 10 years old. I am a student in Maha Bodhi Primary School.

I love drawing, watching videos, and my favourite game is Minecraft. My favourite hobby is reading, especially the Harry Potter series and the Heroes of Olympus series. And like most of my friends, I enjoy movies, especially The Hobbit. So you see, I am just an ordinary 10-year-old.

Another thing I really love are animals. They make our world a more fun, interesting, colourful and beautiful place. The world would be really boring without animals.

We can also learn a lot from animals. Many of the inventions in the world today are inspired by animals. For example, the streamlined shape of the Japanese bullet train, which enables the train to move very quickly and quietly, was actually inspired by the kingfisher’s beak.

Living here in Singapore, it is easy to forget how much we depend on animals. Many people depend on animals for food. In many parts of the world, animals like horses, camels and donkeys are still used for transporting people and goods. Buffaloes still help farmers with their work in the fields. Closer to home, dogs, cats and hamsters keep us company and are friends to us.

Animals are also an important part of our ecosystem. For instance, we won’t have any fruits to eat if not for the honeybees and the bats that pollinate fruit trees. And although vultures look like filthy birds, they help eat carcasses and keep the environment clean.

Even though we depend so much on them, many animals are treated unfairly. When they get abused, they cannot defend themselves or tell us how they feel. So I think it is up to us to speak up for them.

I get very irritated when I see animals being treated badly. When I was 5, I watched a documentary about how people were cruel to animals. They kept animals in cages and killed them for their skin, to make clothes, shoes and bags. Sometimes, these animals were even skinned alive! I felt really upset, so I drew this picture and stuck it outside the door of my house. I wanted people to know that cruelty did not make them more beautiful.

Recently, during a holiday in Australia, we visited a whale centre. It was a museum where we could learn all about whales. Did you know that a newborn baby whale is already 5 metres long, and whales travel thousands of kilometres across the ocean every year? I would love to see them in the wild one day!

From that visit, I also learnt that the Right Whale got its name because it used to be the ‘right ’ whale to hunt! Why was that so? They moved slowly and since they had lots of blubber, they floated when they died, making it easy for whalers to collect their bodies. Because of that, right whale numbers decreased rapidly. Now that they are a protected species, their numbers are increasing again. But it was only because there were people who loved these animals, knew how important they were to the ecosystem, and educated others about it, that we managed to protect them.

I also found out that there are scientists who spend their lives studying these animals, to find out how to help them better. This is one of the many examples of how we can make a difference.

I may only be 10 years old, but I have decided that I can make a difference too. Since I love drawing and painting, I want to use my artwork to help animals. With the help of my mom and dad, we got sponsorship from a generous company to create a series of animal-inspired notebooks. These eco-friendly notebooks are made with recycled paper.

I have drawn 4 different cover designs:
• In this design, I wanted to show ‘man’s best friend’ and the very special bond we have with dogs.
• This was inspired by a storybook I read, “The Island of Blue Dolphins”. In the story, a girl became friends with a wild dog.
• I watched a documentary about slow lorises. Many of them were taken from the wild, their teeth removed, and sold as pets. It was wrong of those people to keep wild animals in their homes, and I was really annoyed by what I saw. So I created this painting to help send a message about these poor animals.
• This is a border collie I met at a farm. Her name is Jess, and we had a great time playing together.

I hope my art can inspire people to be more considerate to our animal friends. All of the money raised from these notebooks will be donated to ACRES, so please help all the animals in need by buying a notebook.Thank you!

I would also like to say “Thank you!” to the following people for giving me an opportunity to make a difference:
• Uncle Louis, Auntie Amy, and friends at ACRES, for the opportunity to speak up for the animals
• The kind people at A’zone Corporation, for generously sponsoring the notebooks
• My mom and dad, for their support and encouragement

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. Just one right action at a time, we can make a big difference and solve even the biggest problems. We can make the world a better place for everyone.

Thank you!

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