FORESTRY OF­FI­CERS

Il­le­gal log­gers have no qualms about harm­ing en­forcers to evade ar­rest

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

CHECK­ING and track­ing il­le­gal log­ging ac­tiv­i­ties in Tereng­ganu have be­come dan­ger­ous for en­force­ment of­fi­cers of the state Forestry Depart­ment who are faced with armed gangs who have no qualms about hurt­ing them.

The March 18 in­ci­dent in Kam­pung Ser­dang, fring­ing the Bukit Bauk For­est Re­serve in Dusun, where an of­fi­cer and a me­chanic were shot at and in­jured, serves as a re­minder of how des­per­ate th­ese cul­prits were when try­ing to es­cape ar­rest.

Usu­ally act­ing on tip-offs, the of­fi­cers would face the first ob­sta­cle in the form of or spies hired by the il­le­gal log­gers to warn of the depart­ment’s move­ments. The il­le­gal log­gers would dis­ap­pear long be­fore the of­fi­cers could reach them.

Some­times, th­ese of­fi­cers would move in on their own on short no­tice without the sup­port of the Gen­eral Op­er­a­tions Force or the po­lice.

Mount­ing an am­bush and wait­ing stealth­ily in the jun­gle, some­times for days, is not how most peo­ple would want to spend the week­end.

There are other dan­gers, too, such as snakes, scor­pi­ons, tigers, ele­phants and quick­sand.

Hav­ing fol­lowed th­ese of­fi­cers on their op­er­a­tions, I can say th­ese men are truly he­roes in pro­tect­ing the na­tion’s re­sources and their safety must be a pri­or­ity.

Al­though early in­ves­ti­ga­tions showed that they were shot at with an air ri­fle with ball bear­ings as bul­lets, they were none­the­less in­jured and needed pro­tec­tion. What if those were real bul­lets?

Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment

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