GEORGE TOWN – Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) has suggested for the Ministry of Environment and Water (KASA) to extend the setting up of an Environmental Crimes Unit to tackle forest and biodiversity crime.
SAM president, Meenakshi Raman said other illegal activities such as logging, poaching and trade in wildlife deserved consideration as well.
Her proposal came after the KASA Minister, Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man issued a statement yesterday on the setting up of the unit to help address pollution issues.
“We welcome the announcement by the KASA Minister that plans were in place to coordinate efforts between the ministry, police and the armed forces to protect precious resources from contamination.
“These matters are within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (KeTSA) and it will be good if the Environmental Crimes Unit is extended to tackle illegal activities that destroy our forests and biodiversity resources as well, in addition to our water resources.
“Since water catchments are in forests, it makes total sense in taking care of these natural resources as well,” she said in a statement, here, today.
At the international level, she said, wildlife trade had been linked to the emergence of the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. “To prevent other such zoonotic diseases, it is also vital that the authorities give very high consideration to the protection of our wildlife and biodiversity resources,” she added.
Meenakshi also proposed that strong action be taken against those officials in enforcement agencies who have been derelict in their duties under the various laws to undertake effective monitoring and enforcement actions.
“Further, the judiciary must give environmental offences and crimes very serious attention and impose maximum and deterrent sentences, instead of imposing simple fines that allows the offenders to continue to pay and pollute,” he said.