Malaysia: Multimedia Commission to shut sites that sell animals illegally

RAHIMY RAHIM The Star 26 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: Wildlife protection authorities are working closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to close down websites or home pages selling wildlife illegally in Malaysia.

A Malaysian Facebook page offering wildlife such as leopard cats, dusky leaf monkeys, binturong (bearcat), barred eagle owls and several other protected species was just shut down by Facebook.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the ministry had agreed to work closely with Wildlife Protection and Natio­nal Parks Department (Perhilitan) on this issue at a meeting last year.

“For cases involving Facebook and Twitter accounts that were found selling exotic and endangered animals, Perhilitan will conduct initial investigations before ordering an enforcement operation and later request the help of MCMC to shut the accounts.

“The page can also be shut down by the Facebook administrator if there is complaint from the public,” he said yesterday.

The Facebook page called ‘Peminat Haiwan Exotic Malaysia’ (Malaysian Exotic Animals Fans), claimed to be “selling regulated goods”, and was promoting the sale of protected Malaysian species.

It was also found to be facilitating illegal activities by allowing members to post advertisements of nationally protected species for sale to the members of public.

In a five-month survey of local Facebook groups, wildlife trade watchdog Traffic South-East Asia found 236 different posts with protected animals such as the sun bear and slow loris “not very secretly” being sold for up to thousands of ringgit each.

Deputy Minister Datuk Hamim Samuri said such acts were unacceptable and gave his assurance the ministry would work with all the relevant enforcement agencies and increase its surveillance to curb the selling of rare and exotic animals, especially in cyberspace.

The ministry, Hamim said, was also in the midst of fine-tuning all existing laws, including the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972, to ensure they were relevant to current challenges.

“Our minister had the officers check existing laws and push for the revamp those that are not current, including the penalties, for dealing with illegal online trading,” he said.

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