Of late, Malaysia became well known internationally for the wrong reasons:
We read in the report that in fact a tourist guide was charged in court for trafficking some women from China. Before that, we read of cases of trafficking involving Bangladeshis who were caught off the coast of Johor. There will be many more cases that goes unreported because no one is arrested. Since it is a lucrative trade, there will always be rooms for corruption.
2) The convicted wildlife smuggler Anson Wong who is dubbed as ‘Pablo Escobar’ of wildlife trafficking is actually a Malaysian, operating from Penang. The response from the director general is a typical example of a very layback officer, saying that it is an old story. Whether it is old or new, it does not speaks well of the Wildlife Department of Malaysia since the conviction of Anson Wong was due to the effort of US rather than Malaysia’s Wildlife Department.
A few years ago, I remember reading clearly that when this gentleman was highlighted in the press with Kuala Lumpur as the hub for wildlife trafficking; there was strong denial by the Wildlife Department. . Penangite Anson Wong was subsequently arrested following a sting operation set up by the US authority. This does not augur well for the image of the Malaysia Wildlife Department when trafficking occurs right under our nose and it needs the US authority to arrest the criminal.
In fact, the government should not stop at the conviction of Anson Wong. They should do house cleaning within the Wildlife Department so that whatever networking established for the smuggling of wildlife can be wiped out.
Malaysia is regarded as one of the 12 countries with mega bio-diversities with rich flora and fauna. However, if we are not careful in managing our forests and wildlife, then our children and definitely grandchildren will only be seeing wildlife in the zoo. Ever since monitor lizard and the anteater called pangolin suddenly become exotic food, you can see that their numbers have dropped dramatically. My house in Batu Pahat is situated at the foot of Gunung Soga. It is a protected forest. It is not surprising then to see snakes, iguana and even anteaters making its way in front of my house. I have been staying there for about 15 years. Of late, I hardly see anyone of them. There are professionals who go around capturing iguanas and anteaters since the meat fetch very good price in China and Taiwan. Before long, I won’t be surprised that the iguanas and anteaters become extinct.
I fully agree that the Wildlife Department is grossly understaffed. A lot of its staff members regard it as a job to earn a living. There is no passion in looking after the wildlife. To compound the problem since the wildlife is valuable in the black market, then one can imagine that the wildlife smuggler would do all he can to bribe his way through. Our Wildlife Protection Act is totally inadequate and ineffective. The fine is too low to be a deterrent. Unless the Act is reviewed with mandatory jail sentence and even whipping, wildlife trafficking will continue.