PUTRAJAYA • Wildlife poachers in Malaysia will now face tougher laws and heavier firearms, reported The Star.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told the Malaysian newspaper that the authorities were looking into the possibility of further arming enforcement officers.
"We have been given some firearms by the Home Ministry. If there is demand and requirements, I am willing to go and see Deputy Prime Minister (who is the Home Minister) to see how we can further arm our officers," he said.
According to a recent survey, rangers in Malaysia as well as in countries which house 10 other tiger ranges have said their lives had been threatened by poachers and the community.
"Hunters go to the forest carrying guns, but our people carry parang. If you have officers with a gun, they will have the upper hand. We need to look at things in perspective," Dr Wan Junaidi said.
Responding to queries by the newspaper, he said National Wildlife and National Parks Department officers were authorised to carry weapons in the exercise of their duties under Section 8 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.
"The authorities involved in the operation will be supplied with arms by the department," he said.
Dr Wan Junaidi added that the ministry was also looking into amending the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, which could see offenders fined up to RM1 million (S$335,650) and be whipped.
The highest penalty now is a fine of up to RM500,000 and a prison term of not more than five years.
"During the five years of implementation, the government has found that there is a need to amend the Act in force now," he told The Star newspaper.