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Sun bear body parts: Man’s sentence is enhanced
Published on: Saturday, November 02, 2019
By: Jo Ann Mool

Kota Kinabalu: A 34-year-old man, who appealed against his sentence of two years’ jail and RM50,000 fine for having body parts of Malayan sun bears without a permit, saw the imprisonment sentence enhanced to four years instead.

High Court Judicial Commissioner Christopher Chin Soo Yin on Friday disallowed the appeal by Tijelo Jacquinn Kuin against his conviction and sentence and allowed the cross appeal by the prosecution against the adequacy of Tijelo’s sentence.

The court varied the sentence from two years to four years’ jail with effect from the date of conviction and maintained the fine of RM50,000 but enhanced its in default from 12 months to 24 months imprisonment.

Tijelo was on Jan 30, 2018 found guilty by the Sessions Court after a full trial of having eight paws, eight canine teeth and two gallbladders of the animal at the parking lot in Tanjung Aru near the Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa here at 12.10pm on Aug 8, 2016.

Sun bear is an endangered species which is fully protected under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

The offence was framed under Section 41(1) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 which provides for a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail term of up to five years, or both, upon conviction.

In delivering his decision, Chin held that he found no merit in Tijelo’s arguments and submissions in his appeal and affirmed the decision of the Sessions Court judge in convicting him.

On the appeal by Tijelo and the prosecution, respectively against the sentence, Chin held that he agreed with the prosecution that public interest looms large in the present case and quite rightly so. 

“The legislature had recognised the importance of protecting our biodiversity manifested in the various legislation protecting not just our wildlife but our flora as well. 

“By biodiversity, I mean the rich variety of flora and fauna in Sabah which represents the environment we live and work in. 

“The sun bear is part of that delicate biodiversity and is classified as a totally protected in the legislation. What is seldom realised or made known to the public is that each one of the residence in Sabah is also part of that shade of biodiversity. 

“We need to educate ourselves that our personal boundaries of human existence do not end at the fences of our houses. 

“We are living in a single village called Sabah and any act or omission of anyone in any part of Sabah affecting the environment affects all of us. 

“A death of a sun bear for commercial reasons, irreparably erodes the one and only biodiversity that we all share. 

“Even the discarding of a single plastic bottle into the sea damages the future for you and me and for our children. 

“The damage to our delicate biodiversity results in a damage environment in which we are to live and bring up our young. 

“Our mindset must change to view the slaughter of endangered wildlife for profit as not just stealing from the forest but also stealing from us,” held Chin.

Hence, when the case such as the present case comes before the courts, the courts are bound to enforce the intention of the legislature manifested in the written law, he held. 

“The counsel for the accused argued before me that it is the culture and tradition of the accused as a Murut to hunt and, therefore, he is innocent of this crime.

“I cannot accept this argument. If I did, then I would have to accept the previous practice of head hunting as a complete defence to murder. Our society would then descend into bloodshed and chaos,” held Chin.

He also said that statistics gathered in 2010 revealed that over 40 per cent of the traditional Chinese medicine shops in Sabah stopped medicine made from the parts of the sun bear in particular its gall bladder. 

“Our courts cannot be blind to the menace to our environment and therefore to our society posed by the threat or protected wildlife parts.

“Taking public interest to the forefront in this case, as well as to set a deterrent sentence, I allow the appeal of the prosecution against the sentence of the Sessions Court,” held Chin.

Tijelo was represented by counsel Jack Situn while Deputy Public Prosecutor Nartiah F. Mirchelle Sambatan appeared for the prosecution as respondent.

 



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