As the country prepared to celebrate 59 years of independence at the end of August, enforcement officers from the Wildlife and National Parks Department executed a series of raids that turned up over a dozen tiger parts - our national icon.
Five raids, in five days, with 12 suspects nabbed and the skins, bones, teeth and claws of tigers seized, is a tremendous effort which the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) applauds.
As empowering as this enforcement success is, the discovery of so many tiger parts in four of the five premises raided across Kuala Lumpur and Selangor paints a very troubling picture for tigers.
It tells us that poachers are still plundering the jungles to feed the illegal trade. Traffickers are buying and selling parts with little fear of the law. And there is still a sizeable demand for Malaysia’s last 300 critically endangered wild tigers.
That the biggest haul of tiger parts in this series of raids came from seven Vietnamese nationals goes to show that as wild tiger populations dwindle elsewhere, the threat to and demand for Malaysia’s own will only grow.
There must be something more that Malaysia can do to better protect her national icon. This belief, and the loss of six wild tigers - three to poachers and a fourth, pregnant with two cubs, killed on a highway - while we were barely into the first quarter of 2016, drove Mycat to launch its petition for No More Dead Tigers.
The petition’s biggest demand is that the deterrent penalty for illegal tiger possession under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 is put to full use - maximum penalties be handed down to the serious criminals involved in depleting our tigers. We have not seen this happen so far.
As the legal cases arising from this most recent series of seizure, as well as those earlier in the year, come before the courts, we are presented with yet more opportunities to send a severe warning to all wildlife criminals, local and foreign.
What is the point of maximum fines of RM500,000 and a jail term of up to five years if they aren't used to scare poachers and traffickers out of this shadowy business? What are we saying to poachers and traffickers with just a slap on the wrist? Look, Malaysia is the easiest place to get tigers in the world?
Huge amounts of effort, time and resources, not to mention risk, are invested into investigations, intelligence gathering and case preparation to fight wildlife trade, for the identification and to dismantle criminal networks, and to better protect tigers and their habitats - this effort should not be undermined, dissolving hope just a little bit more when minimum sentences are handed down.
Malayan Tigers could do with more hope, a great deal more justice, and being uniquely Malaysian, should enjoy freedom in its one and only home - freedom from the tyranny of poachers, traffickers and tiger part consumers.
MYCAT is an alliance of the Malaysian Nature Society, Traffic, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme and WWF-Malaysia.
Unrestrained power in your hands
For almost 20 years, Malaysiakini has stayed true to the cause of providing the Malaysian public with the truth. We believe that with unadulterated information, the people will obtain power to make informed decisions.
Decisions which lead to a healthy, robust nation - ours!
Keep the truth alive. Support your robust, independent media. You have the unrestrained power to do so.
Who says it's not our fault?
We aren’t trained to take responsibility.
Everytime we observe an injustice - and choose to keep mum - the prevalence of injustice becomes our fault.
Astute journalism paves the way for the public to be continuously furnished with the fastidious truth. You are continuously empowered to act and to uphold the integrity of the nation.
The Rakyat owns Malaysiakini
We choose to take a risk on independent media because we believe that only through independent reporting can one be NOT beholden to the interest of businesses or organisations. This allows us to really pursue the truth - aggressively.
Independent for 20 years.
The victorious people
In the light of holding the truth to power, Malaysiakini will continue to uphold its mission of providing credible news to its discerning public. Your support for Malaysiakini is always treasured as a testament of innate nationalism. Your victory is our history.
Quietly. Effectively. Says it all. Malaysiakini.
Speaking truth to power
When we embarked on this journey 20 years ago, we knew we would face intimidation, harassment, raids, arrests and perhaps even jail terms. We got into this venture with our eyes wide open.
The main reason we have survived this long - when many others have folded - is partly because we are prudent in our finances. But while we may be tightfisted in our budgeting, we do not hold back when it comes to speaking truth to power and holding power to account. And certainly, this new administration will not stop us from continuing to do so.