Malaysia: Sabah special court for environmental offences begins operations

RUBEN SARIO The Star 17 Apr 15;

KOTA KINABALU: A special court has started operating in Sabah to hear environment-related cases and dispose of them within four weeks.

Chief Judge for Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjun said the Environment Court would hear cases at the magistrate, Sessions and High Court levels.

He said the special court was also part of the judiciary’s move to dispose cases involving specific crimes such as snatch theft, and those where the victims were tourists.

“Specific judges have been appointed to preside in this court,” he said after the opening of a environment seminar by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun here Friday.

Malanjun said he has also issued a reminder to judges that the penalties meted out environment-related offences must “send a strong message” from the courts.

He said it was for this reason he had recently enhanced the penalty of a pangolin smuggler from a RM10,000 fine to RM25,000, and ordered him to be jailed a maximum of three years as well.

Malanjun added that the state needed to introduce stiffer penalties for environmental offences.

“The courts can impose a RM10,000 fine for someone convicted of wildlife smuggling but will this be a deterrent if the price of a pangolin in China is RM50,000?”

Malanjun said there was also a need to strengthen the investigation and prosecuting capabilities of the Sabah Wildlife Department.