KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 – Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (PEKA Malaysia) has welcomed the Federal Government’s proposal to amend the National Forestry Act 1984 as announced by Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr A Xavier Jayakumar recently.
In a statement yesterday, PEKA President, Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina stated that the proposed amendments, including increasing fines and jail terms for those convicted for the related offences, still fall short of PEKA Malaysia’s own proposal that calls for fines of RM10 million to be imposed for offenses mentioned under Sections 15 and 47 of the National Forestry Act 1984.
National Forestry Act to be amended next year
Dr Xavier announced recently that the National Forestry Act 1984 will be amended to improve enforcement against illegal taking of forest produce. The amendments to the act were expected to be tabled in Parliament by the end of next year.
He said the amendments would involve Section 15 of the act; to increase the maximum fine of RM500,000 to RM5 million on those found guilty of taking forest produce from a permanent reserved forest or state land without a valid licence.
He also said that the ministry was also looking at increasing the minimum jail term from not less than one year to not less than five years, under Section 15.
As for Section 47 of the act, the ministry intended to increase the punishment for illegal entry into closed forests, from RM10,000 fine to RM30,000 and a maximum prison term from three years to five years.
PEKA however, suggested that the organisations and syndicates that mastermind these crimes are unlikely to be deterred by fines of insignificant value as their illegal activities are capable of raking in hundreds of millions annually.
PEKA calls for strict and proper enforcement of the National Forestry Act
“Illegal activities that threaten the natural environment, especially illegally taking forest produce, can only be stopped with strict and proper enforcement, backed up by just and fair legal actions.” said Sabrina hoping that the relevant authorities will carry out their duties with integrity and be allowed to investigate without any interference.
“Without real effort and enforcement, any proposed amendment to the National Forestry Act 1984 be just an exercise in futility and ineffective.” she said further.
PEKA Malaysia urges the Federal Government and State Governments to prove their commitment to protect the nation’s environment by ensuring whatever amendment made will be effective through proper enforcement.