Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
KOTA KINABALU: A wildlife expert has welcomed the government’s plan to increase the maximum fine for wildlife trafficking to RM1 million but said it would not be much of a deterrent without a perceptible move to ensure the strictest of enforcement.
Wildlife biologist Wong Siew Te, who runs the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre, said changing the law alone would not be enough to address poaching and other crimes against wildlife.
“The RM1 million fine will be a deterrent, but only if there is effective enforcement followed by successful prosecution,” he told reporters.
“I’ve always advocated that we need to treat wildlife crimes as we do crimes against humans. So when a law is enacted, we must enforce it properly.
“If we pass a law but without strong, efficient enforcement and prosecution to complement it, then it’s not going to deter anyone. Our wildlife will continue to disappear until one day it is too late.”
Energy and natural resources minister Shamsul Anuar Nasarah recently said the government was in the final stages of amending the Wildlife Conservation Act to improve efforts at curbing wildlife trafficking.
He said the amendment would see the maximum fine for trafficking offences, including poaching, increased from RM500,000 to RM1 million.
The current law also provides for imprisonment of up to five years. A judge can fine or jail an offender or order both penalties.
Wong said it was good that the federal government was showing seriousness in tackling crimes against wildlife, and urged Sabah to follow suit by amending its Wildlife Conservation Enactment.
In 2016, the enactment was amended to increase the fine and jail sentence imposed on offences against fully protected species. Those found guilty face a fine of between RM50,000 and RM250,000 and imprisonment of between one and five years.
The previous state government said it was prepared to tighten the punishment further after a rise in the number of pygmy elephant killings.
Benoit Goossens, director of research outfit Danau Girang Field Centre, also welcomed the federal move to improve the law.
“For sure, it can act as a deterrent,” he said.
However, he said it would not stop poaching for good. “Look at crimes involving drugs. Despite the death penalty, drug dealing has not stopped.
“But in any case, I don’t think the RM1 million fine is a bad thing. I only wish that the kingpins could be caught.”
Borneo pygmy elephant expert Nurzhafarina Othman said she believed a hefty fine would scare individual hunters, “but not syndicates”.
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