Published: 02 November 2021
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs with regard to Sections 4, 5 and 19 of the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act and Sections 8 and 9 of the Wildlife Act, whether the Ministry will consider classifying contraventions of these sections as serious offences in the Schedule of the Organised Crime Act 2015.
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:
1. For an offence to be considered a serious offence listed in the Schedule of the Organised Crime Act (OCA), the offence must pose a serious threat to public safety and security in Singapore. The offence must also be one that is associated with organised crime in Singapore. Examples of crimes in the Schedule to the OCA include murder, drug-trafficking, and unlicensed moneylending.
2. The offences under Sections 4 and 5 of the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act (ESA) and Sections 8 and 9 of the Wildlife Act relate to the international and domestic trade of wildlife without the requisite permits, and the offence under Section 19 of the ESA is for the abetment of offences under the ESA. We take these offences seriously. However, the question is whether they will qualify under the OCA – do they pose a serious threat to public safety and security in Singapore, and are they related to organised crime. Over the years, NParks has investigated and made a number of prosecutions for illegal wildlife trade. These cases have so far not been found to be associated with organised crime in Singapore. That said, MHA and MND will monitor the developments. We do not rule out including these offences under OCA if the specific criteria set out is met. We will emphasise: even if they are not within the ambit of the OCA, nevertheless they are considered serious offences.
3. MND and NParks will continue to maintain Singapore’s vigilance against illegal wildlife trade. Where illegal wildlife trade seizures involve entities outside of Singapore, our enforcement agencies work closely with the source and destination countries, and share information with international organisations such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and INTERPOL to assist in investigation and enforcement efforts. Where other countries have uncovered links to organised crime in their jurisdictions, NParks has extended assistance to them in their investigations.
4. The illegal wildlife trade offences mentioned by MP Louis Ng are listed as Serious Offences under the Second Schedule to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. This allows Singapore to provide mutual legal assistance for the aforementioned offences, whether or not they involve organised criminal groups, and consequently to cooperate with other countries in combatting wildlife trafficking.