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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : May 2001 : Giving laws more bite to fight poachers

Giving laws more bite to fight poachers

New Straits Times (Malaysia)
May 6, 2001

TEMERLOH - The Science, Technology and Environment Ministry will this year push for amendments to the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 to give it more bite.

Its Minister Datuk Law Hieng Ding said today that under the proposed amendments, the penalty for offenders would be increased by 100 per cent. "Currently, the maximum fine for poaching is RM6,000 or three years' jail, or both."

He said under the amendments, enforcement against poachers could be carried out more effectively.

"We are proposing that the power to detain poachers be extended to community leaders in the peninsula like village headmen, tok batin and tribe leaders. They will be given licence to carry firearms," he said, adding that they would also be given incentives.

Currently, only community leaders in Sarawak are given the power to act against poachers.

Law was speaking after opening the National Biological Conservation Training Centre in Bukit Rengit and also the Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah, Lanchang. The Ministry also held its family day there.

Also present were Deputy Minister Datuk Zainal Dahalan, Parliamentary Secretary Fu Ah Kiow, secretary-general Ng Kam Chiu and National Parks and Wildlife Department's (Perhilitan) director-general Musa Nordin.

Law said poaching, especially at the country's wildlife and forest reserves, was quite rampant and the authorities had to be very strict about it. Last month, a female Sumatran rhinoceros was found shot and its head missing in Sabah.

"Currently, Perhilitan only has about 800 enforcement officers serving in the peninsula where a vast area has been gazetted as national parks and reserves for wildlife.

"Although we have plans to beef up the department's enforcement unit, we still need the assistance of the community leaders." he said.

Law said the Ministry would urge courts to mete out the maximum penalties for poachers.



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