Police reveal VVIPs’ alleged involvement in illegal wildlife trade, push for harsher punishment against poachers

IGP Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador speaks during a press conference in Bukit Aman October 30, 2019. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
IGP Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador speaks during a press conference in Bukit Aman October 30, 2019. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Information of VVIPs being involved in the illegal wildlife trade and poaching has surfaced following a joint investigation by the Royal Malaysian Police, the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan), and the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia.

Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador today revealed these VVIPs were allegedly directly involved with the syndicates, with police so far establishing the existence of more than 10 active illegal wildlife trade rings operating here.

“I am serious in this matter and once they (VVIPs) are identified, I will make sure that their firearms are seized, and if caught they will not escape the prosecutorial processes.

“There is no need to hunt and poach exotic animals in today’s age; there is no need to consume mouse-deers, deers and try to compete with the tigers for their food,” he said.

Abdul Hamid included how the joint effort between the departments, following a meeting today, had agreed that stiffer penalties should be imposed against those found to be involved in the illegal trade.

Also present during today’s press conference on the matter was Perhilitan deputy Director General Datuk Fakhrul Hatta Musa, and the Peninsular Forestry’s deputy Director Datuk Zahari Ibrahim.

Abdul Hamid explained how the joint effort is aimed at pushing for amendments to the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) that will see prison sentences be extended to 15-years from the current maximum five-year punishment, and maximum fines increased from RM500,000 to RM1 million for those convicted.

“The existing punishments are too lenient. I have suggested that mandatory canning be included within the punishments where if it is included it can act as an effective deterrent to those looking to get involved.

“The inclusion of mandatory canning was suggested by PDRM,” he said.

Abdul Hamid said the joint effort in weeding out these illegal poachers was also to ensure that Malaysia escaped being condemned by the United Nations (UN), who he said is coming down hard on nations found to be involved in the illegal market.

He explained that an arm of the UN has been mobilised to monitor nations involved in the illegal wildlife and exotic animal trade, stressing that affirmative action needs to be taken to avoid punished UN.

“Just like what has been happening in the African continent with the elephants and rhinos, we are a tropical country rich with flora and fauna and the UN are watching us.

“That is why this Khazanah Joint Operations is imperative, to prove to the UN that we are a responsible country looking after the flora and fauna,” he said.

Abdul Hamid included how today’s meeting also played into the mission to preserve the local wildlife and natural attractions considering next year’s Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign.

He assured the commitment of the police, by announcing that personnel from their General Operations Force (PGA), Marine Police Department, and their Air Wing Unit have all been roped in for the joint operations against the poachers.

Among the national parks under close watch are those within Kedah, Perak, Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor, with unconventional transit and hunting spots around these areas also zeroed in by police.

He included that PDRM has already prompted the Home Ministry to allocate funds to improve and upgrade assets of the involved police departments to aid their monitoring and enforcement efforts.

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