Harsher penalties for wildlife crimes pointless without enforcement, says Sabah lawmaker

TAWAU: Stiffer penalties for wildlife crimes are no deterrent if there is no strict enforcement, says former state Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Christina Liew.

Liew, who is also Tawau MP and Api Api assemblyman, also said fair play and not selective prosecution should be the order of the day.

“The principle of equality before the law should be applicable to all citizens whereby they are subject to due process of the law, ” she said in a statement on Thursday (April 8).

On April 5, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said wildlife traffickers, especially poachers, will face fines of up to RM1mil once amendments to existing laws are passed and implemented by the Federal Government.

He said the government was in the final stages of amending the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) before it is presented to the Cabinet and subsequently tabled in Parliament to curb wildlife trafficking in the country.

While welcoming the move, Liew noted the amendments had been pending since 2019.

“I hope it will be realised soon. It should be made applicable to all states, including Sabah, to act as a deterrent against poaching and other wildlife-related crimes, ” she said.

On this note, she said the people have a right to know the outcome of investigations into the poaching case allegedly involving an ex-MP, who was among 14 people detained by state Forestry enforcement officers for allegedly hunting at a forest reserve in Tawau recently.

Four policemen were also detained.

There has been no update on investigations.

Liew said the implementation of the law must take its course without interference from any quarters.

She added it was important to uphold the rule of law so that those who commit wrongs are brought to justice under the legal system.

Currently offenders, including poachers, can be fined a maximum of RM500,000, jailed not exceeding five years, or both.

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