LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
IT’S TIME WE PASS THE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ACT
As a concerned citizen, I urge our elected representatives to vote for the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, which is currently being debated in Parliament, to be passed without delay.
The replacement of the outdated Wildlife Protection Act 1972 with the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 would be a timely and necessary move. Giving the new Act statutory footing would mean stiffer penalties for poaching and other wildlife crimes. In addition, the new Act would endow enforcement agencies with the power to monitor wildlife displays and wildlife in captivity. Cruelty to wildlife would also finally be recognized as a criminal offence. The new Act further extends protection to more species, including arachnids, amphibians and gastropods, which are also vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.
Malaysia currently has the insalubrious reputation as a hub for the illegal wildlife trade. The outdated 1972 Act is riddled with loopholes and deficiencies and does not do enough to halt or deter the rampant poaching and smuggling of wildlife in Malaysia, as its penalties are derisory. Enforcement agencies find themselves handicapped due to a lack of manpower and resources and the absence political will of those in power.
Legislators must take immediate steps to safeguard our fast-vanishing natural heritage. The enactment, implementation and enforcement of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 would increase the ability and authority of enforcement agencies to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders and offer a better measure of protection for Malaysia’s wildlife than the existing laws.
Malaysia’s commitments towards protecting endangered species and achieving biodiversity targets are guided by the National Policy on Biological Diversity launched in 1998. Enacting the Wildlife Conservation Act would be a critical step towards reducing species loss and managing and improving biodiversity in Malaysia.
WONG EE LYNN