Malaysiakini Letter

Will Malaysia be sanctioned for illegal wildlife trade?

Sean Whyte  |  Published:  |  Modified:

In a weeks time an organisation by the name of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) with delegates from all over the world, will sit down in some considerable comfort in Switzerland and ponder over such matters as whether or not to punish countries like Malaysia who over the years have consistently broken the Convention.


Malaysia’s track record for facilitating the illegal wildlife trade is possibly the worst of all the 180 member countries. In view of this you will hopefully understand why I write and draw attention to this matter again.


CITES is neither known or respected for its enforcement of the rules despite all its talk and bravado. Which may explain why Malaysia and many other countries such as China, Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Mali, Guinea, Armenia, DRC, the Congo all continue to give the finger to this toothless Convention.


Do you remember Anson Wong – labelled the most notorious of illegal wildlife traders? Despite the damning Al Jazeera documentary last November he appears to remain a free man believed to be protected by someone in government.

This alone ought to be enough to get Malaysia sanctioned by CITES, but the problem with CITES is the committee concerned lacks the guts and willingness to take action, which is why the illegal wildlife trade has proliferated so in Malaysia and elsewhere.  


I could go on about the ivory trade in and transiting through Malaysia, the trade in great apes, etc, but my guess is you already know about both and you also know it can only happen with the ‘blessing’ of the wildlife authorities and government of Malaysia.


So while CITES continually talks tough there is no sign yet it will ever flex its muscles and act tough.  And there is still no evidence of Perhilitan enforcing the law in Malaysia.


Which probably means it’s good news for Malaysia and its criminals profiting from the illegal wildlife trade. It will continue to be ‘business as usual’ following the CITES meetings in Switzerland from July 7 to 11. What a depressing thought.   


Will the CITES Standing Committee members (not uncommonly representing countries with their own flourishing illegal wildlife trade) and Perhilitan look one day soon into the eyes of their children and confess they had the opportunity to save thousands of animals from the illegal wildlife trade, but not the courage and moral fibre to enforce either the Convention or the law?

SEAN WHYTE is the chief executive of Nature Alert.

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