KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 (NNN-BERNAMA) — The National Forestry Act 1984 will be amended to improve enforcement against illegal taking of forest produce, said Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar.
He said the amendments to the act were expected to be tabled in Parliament by the end of next year.
“The law will be tightened with higher fines. That’s why we will improve (amend) the act after holding engagement sessions with state governments.
“The last time the act was amended was in 1993,” he told a press conference after attending the 76th National Land Council Meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at Parliament building here today.
Dr Xavier said the amendments would involve Section 15 of the act, namely to increase the maximum fine of RM500,000 to RM5 million on those found guilty of taking forest produce from a permanent reserved forest or state land without a valid licence.
He said for offences under Section 15, the ministry was also looking at increasing the minimum jail term from not less than one year to not less than five years.
Dr Xavier said as for Section 47 of the act, the ministry intended to increase the punishment for illegal entry into closed forests, from RM10,000 fine to RM30,000 and a maximum prison term from three years to five years.
“The amendments are also to enhance the management aspects of permanent reserved forests,” he said.
Malaysia’s forest cover is currently at 55.3 per cent or 18.28 million hectares of the total land area in the country.