We ARE losing our identity !

By Andrew Sebastian

On 18th March 2019, the news read – “The Malayan tiger is likely to be extinct in the next five to 10 years if no drastic measures are taken to protect the animal, says Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar!”

He continued to state that the Malayan tiger population was at a worrying level, with fewer than 200 left according to the First National Tiger Survey conducted from 2016 to 2018. And here’s the best part of what we read..“The actual population of Malayan tigers will be known once the survey is completed in 2020!” My friends – this is our national crest, the emblem on our flag! This is our national football team!      
I wonder…is Malaysia identified as a strong, fierce, respectable nation or with our rapid development, 3-lane highways, underwater tunnels, Twin Towers, smart phones, drones, 5 series, Birkin bags, private schools, holidays around the world, iPads, designer jeans, expensive coffees or are we reduced to visual clichés that will define us as just another ‘developing nation’?

The mental image that comes to one’s mind when you word associate about ‘France’ would likely be a football team or the Eiffel Tower, ‘North America’ possibly as Donald Trump or Statue of Liberty, India could be its people and of the Taj Mahal. The list goes on. Now, how about the word ‘Malaysia’?? To the outside world, I would think it’s the Twin Tower or Orangutans! How about to Malaysians?? Do Malaysians think about the mighty Tiger? I wonder and sigh..

So as it stands, not only are orangutans, tapirs and elephants being pushed into extinction, but now, might Malayan Tiger Panthera tigris jacksoni is facing a real likelihood to be extinguished in our forests before our grandkids come into this world! We will look at their birth certificates and will overlook the emblem of the mighty tigers on the very top of the certificate that should have signified a child born to a brave, strong and respected symbolism.

The Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 needs to be better enforcement tools, penalties need to be much stronger with higher fines and mandatory (longer) term jail sentences! In 2013, I recalled that a local poacher was found in possession of eight tiger pelts and 22 bags of tiger bones. He was also slapped with a year’s jail and a fine of RM200,000!!                                

It will therefore be a very sad day when Malaysians lose our Tigers and our birth right identity!  Mr. Minister and fellow Malaysians, let’s not wait for a survey to be done by 2020 to get final figures of how many Tigers are left in the wild! Let’s put an end to the wanton forest conversions, epidemic of hunting and poaching and the trade of all protected wildlife in and around the region! The Malayan Tiger must be our identity…and with it, our responsibility to protect, celebrate and ensure it prosperity!

The views expressed by the writer here are solely his and do not reflect that of NNN or the Malaysian National News Agency (BERNAMA)