Friday, October 19, 2007

Conspiracy to export monkeys for profit: NGO

Conspiracy to export monkeys for profit: NGO
Bede Hong | Oct 19, 07 7:28pm

A wildlife conservation group wants the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to look into alleged business dealings involving a minister and a former director-general where wild monkeys are being exported for profit.

The group said the ACA must investigate Environment Minister Azmi Khalid (photo) and former Department of Wildlife and National Parks DG Musa Nordin, who retired last October, for abuse of power.

Malaysian Animal Rights and Welfare Society (Roar) believes that a company linked to the two is the beneficiary of a export programme created under the guise to trim down the population of long-tailed macaques in Peninsular Malaysia.

Roar submitted a memorandum to ACA office in Kuala Lumpur today calling for investigation into the matter. Accompanying the group were DAP and PKR officials.

Roar consists of Selangor Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals (SSPCA), Malaysian Animal Assisted Therapy for Disabled Association, PKR and Malaysian Association for Responsible Pet Ownership.

Motivated by profit

“We are angry that the animals are being exploited by the very ministry tasked to protect them,” Roar pro-tem chairperson N Surendran told a press conference today.

Surendran said ACA should investigate whether a recent lifting of the ban on the export of macaques was motivated by profit.

In June, against international convention, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry lifted a 23-year ban on the export of macaques, saying there is an overpopulation of the species.

In July, Roar submitted a memorandum to the minister demanding the reinstatement of the ban and a halt on all pending macaque shipments. They also lodged a police report against Azmi and ministry officials for violating Section 92(f) of the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972.

The police forwarded the case to the ACA last month, saying it has elements of abuse of power.

“We found this very suspicious. All animal rights groups and wildlife experts found it very strange. The question is why the ministry is bent on exporting these monkeys? I will give you the answer right now... money,” said Surendran.

“The ministry wants to make money out of it, and the ministry is allowing a private company to make money out of it. The question here is why is the Malaysian environment and natural resources being plundered in order to profit some company,” he said.

RM250 for one monkey

Surendran referred to a news article published by the Star on Sept 11, where Musa admitted he was “indirectly involved” in the monkey trade.

“We have information that the decision to export the monkey when Musa Nordin was still the DG. We have information that there is connection with the company. He has close contacts with the Department of Wildlife. Clearly there was some hanky panky going on there with elements of corruption,” he said.

According to Roar, each exported monkey brings in RM250. The macaques are exported, mostly to China, for animal testing and vivisection.

Roar alleged that the export contract of over 20,000 monkeys annually was given by the Environment Ministry to a company, Sunny K-9 Sdn Bhd. A check revealed that the company, based in Ipoh, is a dog-training academy.

Surendran also disagreed with the Environment Ministry figures that there are over 250,000 monkeys living near urban centres and over 500,000 monkeys living in the jungles.

“We question the figures because experts found that it was not possible to calculate the precise number of monkeys through the ministry’s methodology. I feel the figures are grossly over-estimated to justify the lifting of a ban,” said Surendran.

Surendran said the ministry should pursue alternative ways to reduce the macaque population including sterilisation, relocation and humane culling.

No comments: