On 5th December 2017, the Sessions Court in Ipoh, Perak sentenced Wong Chee Leong to a fine of RM 100,000 (in default, a one year imprisonment) and one month imprisonment for possessing a tiger carcass in Gopeng, Perak. The 43-year-old was arrested by the Wildlife and National Parks Department rangers on 2 February 2016 for possessing a dead tiger on his motorcycle. According to his lawyer, he was going to feed the tiger to fish. The accused was charged under Section 68(2)(c) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) which carries the punishment of a fine of not less than RM100,000 and with imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
The Malayan Tiger is critically endangered with only 250 to 340 tigers left in the wild. The 90% population decline since Malaysia’s Independence is primarily caused by the loss of habitat, poaching and illegal trade.
The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) is deeply disappointed with the sentence.
“We commend the Ipoh Sessions Court for meting out the fine of RM 100,000 to the accused. However, a one month imprisonment for a serious crime against a totally protected species that is critically endangered in our country sends out a misleading message to perpetrators. After narcotics, human trafficking and weapons, wildlife crime is still the fourth most lucrative illegal business in the world. If we do not consider heavier punishments in terms of imprisonment, we will continue to struggle to bring wildlife crime and poaching threats under control,” said Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director / CEO of WWF-Malaysia.
“At a time when various species are on the verge of extinction and rhinos have just been listed as extinct in Peninsular Malaysia, this punishment of one month is difficult to comprehend. It sends out mixed signals to poachers that wildlife crimes are not taken seriously.”, said Dr. Melvin Gumal, Director of Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia Programme.
“The fact that we are down to the last few tigers, has not sunk into the national consciousness. This has to change if we want a future with tigers,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.
It would be a pity and a great shame to us as Malaysians to have the Malayan Tiger on our Coat of Arms, in the stripes of our national sports team jersey as well as in every Malaysian Court while the real tigers remain critically endangered and face extinction.
Download the press statement here.