Malaysia: Perhilitan wants stiffer punishment in place for poachers

Esther Landau New Straits Times 6 Dec 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) wants the government to put in place stiffer punishment on the illegal possession of tiger carcasses.

Its director-general Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the department is in the midst of proposing the amendment for Section 68(2) (c) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) so that poachers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“We are now in the midst of amending the act where the punishment for the offence will be increased and the minimum period of imprisonment will be introduced (as now there’s no such provision in the current act),” Abdul Kadir told the New Straits Times when contacted.

Abdul Kadir was commenting on the one-month prison sentence slapped on a 43-year-old man for illegally possessing the carcass of a tiger (Panthera tigris) in an oil palm estate in Gopeng, Perak last year.

On Tuesday, Wong Chee Leong, was fined RM100, 000 and his motorcycle confiscated by the Ipoh Sessions Court.

Abdul Kadir said the current act only carries a maximum punishment of RM500, 000 or a jail term of no more than five years, upon conviction.

He said the department will engage with the judiciary and the Attorney General’s Chambers to address this issue, strengthen its enforcement and even conduct an awareness programme with stakeholders.

“The punishment for any charges is fully up to the discretion of the court and that is the process of the justice system,” he added.

It was reported that Wong had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge. However, he changed his plea to guilty in the Sessions Court on Tuesday and he was subsequently sentenced.

Wong had appealed for a lenient sentence as he was just a helper at a fish farm and needed to support his family. His counsel also argued that he is a first-time offender and that it could not be proven that he had killed the animal or had the intention to trade it.

The carcass, the counsel argued, was given to Wong by the locals and that it was meant to be used to feed the fish in the farm where the accused worked.

According to Southeast Asia TRAFFIC acting regional director Kanitha Krishnasamy, a one-month jail term for transporting a carcass of the national symbol on a vehicle sends an extremely worrying message to would-be offenders.

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