ILLEGAL wildlife traders may see their assets seized under a proposed amendment to the wildlife laws.
The move follows efforts to plug the loophole against online illegal wildlife trade while increasing punishment against offenders.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said amendments were critical to better protect the country’s endangered wildlife.
“At present, the Wildlife Preservation Act does not cover online wildlife trade.
“This makes it difficult to come down hard on them as trade carried out on social media is not admissible as evidence in court,” he told reporters at the Parliament’s media centre.
Dr Wan Junaidi said the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) and ministry officials were working closely with the Attorney-General to address this loophole.
He said amendments to the Act would also look at increasing penalties for illegal wildlife trade.
“This includes seizing assets of illegal wildlife traders which are obtained from proceeds of their trade,” he said.
Earlier in the Dewan Rakyat, Dr Wan Junaidi told lawmakers that enforcement officers seized 262 wildlife species, totalling 11,764 animals, last year.
As of May this year, 16 wildlife species involving 797 animals were seized.
Between 2013 and May this year, Perhilitan had carried out 1,090 operations against illegal wildlife trade.
On a separate matter, Dr Wan Junaidi said it was up to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to investigate a project site said to be behind Monday’s flash floods along the Federal Highway.
He said preliminary investigations showed the lack of water retention ponds and debris traps at the site.
“I want to stress that the city’s drainage and culverts are capable of handling rainwater flow.
“The clogging of the drainage system has resulted in floodwaters unable to flow to the nearby Klang River, causing it to spill on to the highway,” he said, adding that the river could still handle 1.5m of water.
Dr Wan Junaidi said they were still checking if the project developer was required to build retention ponds and debris traps under the ministry’s environmental guidelines.
“They are subjected to the guidelines if the project was given approval after August 2015,” he said, adding that DBKL has its own conditions and it was up to the authority to carry out an inspection.
During the incident, muddy floodwaters inundated a 1km stretch of the highway just outside the Bangsar South City development site, heading from Mid Valley City towards the Sprint Highway Kerinchi exit.
The flash floods caused a massive crawl along the highway.