Malaysian wildlife kingpin mentioned in National Geographic: Make investigations public

national-geographicSahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) had received queries on follow-up action pertaining to the National Geographic report, “Asia’s Wildlife Trade: The Kingpin” (Jan 2010), concerning the alleged involvement of a high-ranking officer from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks with a notorious wildlife dealer.

This investigative write-up in a well-known magazine is very serious and the claims made in the story is serious enough to warrant investigative action and it should be fully probed. The Ministry and the department should view this as a matter of public concern. Many issues have to be probed such as the extent of the connection with the alleged smuggler.

SAM had in a letter in Oct 2009, called for an investigation on the same matter following reports lodged with the police and the Malaysian Anti Corruption Agency (MACC) by animal welfare groups in Kuala Lumpur.

Up to today there is deafening silence from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Police and the MACC though the Ministry had promised a thorough investigation. There is no transparency in the manner in which the probe is handled as nothing is known about its findings or reports. This dampens the public and NGOs’ confidence in the police, the MACC and the Ministry.

The Ministry and the department should view this as a matter of public concern. SAM would want to know whether there is an investigation being carried out into the allegation referred to in the article, and if so who or which government agency is probing it?

A proper and in-depth investigation should be carried out to give the public an answer of what really happened. There should be no cover up as the matter had not only tarnished the Ministry and the department’s reputation and also undermined its credibility as the protector of the country’s wildlife.

The matter should not be swept under the carpet hoping that it would be easily forgotten by the public but instead the Ministry and the department should embark on clearing its name and refute the facts stated in the article.

Instead it is disappointing that so far there has been no publicity. The Ministry should act firmly and not protect nor permit any wrongdoing by its staff for acting in favour of a wildlife offender. Any proven wrongdoings should be acted according to the nature of the crime.

SAM urges for a full investigation into the case as the public has a right to know the answer of what really happened.