KUALA LUMPUR: The police have been urged to enhance their human capital and assets to curb the increasing number of environmental crimes in the country, said the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) today.
Its senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye also said the police should consider establishing a new department dedicated to tackling environmental crime.
“Active and aggressive involvement of the police and their collaboration with other enforcement agencies can help the country address related issues including thwarting syndicates that are involved in poaching, timber theft and illegal land clearing.
“Although some of the offences fall under the jurisdiction of other agencies and the state government, the role of police is crucial to help reduce environmental crimes including pollution which has led to a number of negative effects on our environment including those that affect public health,” Lee said in a statement today.
Environmental crimes encompass a broad list of illicit activities, including illegal trade in wildlife; smuggling of ozone-depleting substances; illicit trade of hazardous waste; illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing; and illegal logging and trade in timber
Lee said joint enforcement between the police and relevant government agencies could help put a stop to uncontrolled hillslope developments, which have been blamed for the recent deadly landslides in Penang.
“Apart from development activities, uncontrolled land clearing has also become one of the main causes of landslides including those which caused fatalities.
“This aspect of surveillance is important because a research done by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia shows that there are 21,000 landslide hotspots nationwide with 16,000 of them in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.
Lee added that the fight against environmental crime required the cooperation and participation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders.
“These NGOs should help educate and create awareness among the people on the importance of natural treasure as well as the prevention of crime against the environment.
“This platform can also be used to discuss related issues such as forest encroachment, illegal logging and crime against wildlife or other animals that would have a negative impact on the community.
“River and sea pollution is another example of environmental crime and through such awareness programmes, the stakeholders can focus on issues related to forest management and the environment more efficiently and effectively.
“Indirectly, the prevention of environmental crimes will also have a good impact on efforts to protect animals, including endangered wildlife and marine species.”
He added the prevention of environmental crime by the police was timely and was in line with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) stern action to address environmental crimes that were linked to integrity and corruption.
It was reported that environmental crimes were becoming rampant due to the alleged betrayal of agencies that were supposed to be responsible for preserving the environment.
In general, environmental crimes refer to violations of criminal law by any party, including the public that may affect the environment.