PETALING JAYA: A special unit investigating environmental crimes must be set up within the police force to effectively combat such crimes while preventing environmental disasters, says WWF-Malaysia conservation director Dr Henry Chan (pic).
He said environmental crimes could cut across many enforcement agencies’ jurisdictions and could be transboundary in nature.
“According to Interpol, such crimes are often committed together with other offences, such as passport fraud, corruption, money laundering and even murder, and routes used to traffic wildlife are often used to traffic arms, drugs and people.
“Therefore, having a central unit under the police will help to effectively curb environmental crimes,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Under the special unit, the police can take the lead role in intelligence gathering and investigating environmental crimes together with other enforcement agencies, cutting across different laws and jurisdictions, he added.
“Efficient investigation of possible links to other organised crimes such as money laundering, narcotics and arms trafficking can also be handled in a more holistic manner.
“Such a unit will also enhance and complement the powers of current environment enforcement agencies by providing a strategic approach in tackling these crimes,” he said.
It was reported last year that Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun lauded the idea, but cited financial constraints as the reason why such a new department was not yet feasible.
“WWF-Malaysia understands that establishing a new unit will incur costs.
“In light of the seriousness of environmental crimes and the far-reaching impacts they have, as well as the direct and indirect losses that can be prevented, we strongly urge the government to invest towards the nation’s future by establishing the unit under the police,” Dr Chan said.
The organisation also hoped to see environmental crimes given the same importance as other crimes.
“A dedicated environmental crime unit within the police force will show the world that Malaysia views these crimes very seriously,” he said.
Recent incidents, especially the illegal dumping of hazardous chemical waste at Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor, highlighted the need for such a unit, he added.
“Hazardous chemical wastes dumped illegally led to an environmental crisis, which gravely threatened the lives of thousands of residents, including vulnerable school children. It is a crime that should never have happened,” Dr Chan said.