The government is now amending the National Forestry Act 1984 as an aggresive step to eradicate illegal logging in the country.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Douglas Uggah Embas said the existing act could not fulfil the needs and challenges of the current national forestry issues.
“As such, we have to give more authority to the officers and overcome some of the problems,” he said in his winding-up speech for the ministry at the committee level in the Dewan Rakyat, today.
He said among the matters to be focused on was increasing the burden of proof of liability for the offender.
“We also have to increase the penalty as from previous experience, increasing the penalty would lead to reduced number of timber theft cases,” he said.
Uggah hoped the issue of illegal logging could also be overcome in future with stiffer sentences.
Earlier, P. Kamalanathan (BN-Hulu Selangor) asked what were the government’s measures to stem mangrove wood theft and enhance the power of forestry officers.
Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) also raised the issue of widespread river pollution in the country due to the dumping of solid waste into rivers by irresponsible industries.
Uggah said one pioneer project called ‘Enforcement 1Malaysia’ would be launched soon to unify the relevant parties from several ministries involved in resolving the issue.
“We have discussed the matter and a committee has been formed with the ministries involved to coordinate enforcement of laws and we hope this will be effective.
“If this is not stemmed and no stern and effective action taken, one day we will have the problem of uncontrolled contamination of rivers,” he said.
The Dewan Rakyat will sit again tomorrow.