The government should allow for an independent audit to allay suspicion and avert potential theft of RM19 million worth of stockpiled ivory, a DAP lawmaker urged.
Once verified by Traffic, an international wildlife watchdog, Zairil Khir Johari said the stockpile should be destroyed publicly, a practice adopted by many countries, including the USA and the Philippines, and there was no reason “Malaysia needed to keep them for years”.
“Only by being publicly accountable and transparent can the government convince the world of its commitment towards combating the illegal wildlife trade,” the Bukit Bendera lawmaker said in a statement.
Earlier, Zairil supported the memorandum submitted today by Friends of the Orang Utans — a local wildlife non-governmental organisation — which called for the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to get Traffic to conduct an independent audit on all ivory confiscated.
The wildlife organisation also wants the country to make public the Malaysian Ivory Action Plan submitted to the United Nations’ CITES in May 2013, apart from destroying the confiscated ivory publicly.
Zairil said in the last parliamentary sitting, Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri James Dawos Mamit revealed that 4,624 units of elephant ivory tusks were confiscated between 2011 and 2014.
James also acknowledged that while they could not trace the owners of the consignments, three individuals were found guilty. He also noted that all the seized ivory was currently stored in government-held stockpiles.
“However, there is very little information on this valuable stockpile, worth at least RM19 million, thus raising concerns about its whereabouts and safekeeping.”