Fourteen people were recently arrested for illegal hunting in a forest reserve in Kalabakan, Sabah. Four of the 14 who were arrested were policemen.
Details of the Arrests
The suspects were arrested on Sunday afternoon at the Sapulut Forest Reserve in the Maliau Basin near Tawau. The arrests were made at the Vivadaya logging camp after an operation conducted by the Sabah Forestry Department.
The raiding team seized many weapons from the suspects. They also removed several carcasses from them; these carcasses included those of deer and wild boar. The alleged poachers’ four-wheel-drive vehicles were also taken.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali said that the probe would be centred on the four policemen and their actions during the incident. He provided no further comments about the other 10 who were arrested.
Hazani added that the police department would not interfere in the investigation which will be carried out by forestry department authorities. He also said that should they be found guilty, the policemen involved will have to face the necessary legal consequences. In this area, the police force will utilize a hands-off approach.
Hazani confirmed that the state’s police are currently awaiting a report from the relevant authorities. He urged the public to refrain from making any speculation or spreading false rumours which would damage the reputation of Sabah’s police force. “Police will also not hesitate to take action against anyone found making false accusations and those caught will be investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for defamation, and Section 233 (1) of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998,” he said.
There were also claims that a former MP was among those who were arrested. However, authorities from the forestry department have thus far refused to provide further information on this matter.
Sabah’s former Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew unequivocally stated that a fair and just probe into the claims about this former MP must be conducted. She insisted that the rule of law be upheld regardless of the status of the person involved.
“All citizens are equal before the law, regardless of whether one is an MP or ex-MP. As leaders, political or otherwise, we must set a good example in safeguarding Sabah’s protected wildlife for posterity. In the interest of fairness, we hope there will be no cover-up of the Maliau Basin episode, and the State Wildlife Department will be impartial in its investigation into the case within the ambit of Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 199,” Liew said in a statement on Wednesday.
Sabah has long struggled with the issue of illegal hunting. This practice has caused many animals in the area to be at risk of extinction – a shocking development given the fact that Sabah is one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions.
18th March 2021 16:31
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