Malaysia: New Bill to safeguard our natural resources in the works

NURBAITI HAMDAN The Star 6 Sep 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The rich natural resources in Malaysia will soon be safeguarded through a new Bill aim­­ed to protect its access and be­­nefit sharing.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the new Bill, if passed, would provide a re­gulation that monitors the access to biological resources and traditional knowledge, tackling biopiracy and ensuring the benefits were shared fairly.

“Malaysia is one of the 12 richest countries in biological resources. The new law would not only protect our resources from being stolen but it also empowers the states that own it,” he said at a press confe­rence after launching the National Conference on Access and Benefit Sharing at a hotel here yesterday.

The drafting of the Bill is in line with the obligation under the Con­ven­­tion on Biological Diversity, which Malaysia is part of since 1992.

The convention acknowledges that biological resources is the absolute right of a country and it has the right to benefit from the use of the resource.

The conference was attended by 120 representatives from fede­ral and state governments, non-govern­mental organisations, acade­mic and research institutions and private sector institutions.

Dr Wan Junaidi said only Sabah and Sarawak had state laws on their biological resources. The state laws, however, could not be enforced outside of their states as international laws only recognise the country’s national laws.

“We had a case where a resear­cher took samples of a natural resource in Kuala Lumpur, studied it and had it patented abroad.

“This new law will put a stop to that theft. It would also benefit the local and indigenous community where the biological resource is located when the resource is commercialised,” he said, adding that state governments would be empo­wered under the proposed federal law.

The Bill is under consultation with the Attorney-General’s Cham­bers and is expected to be tabled in Parliament next year.

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