17 August 2021
Hon Mr Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, GBM, GBS, JP
Room 710, Legislative Council Complex
1 Legislative Council Road
Central, Hong Kong
Dear Mr Leung,
Statement of Support for a Member’s Bill to Tackle Wildlife Crimes
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce welcomes and supports a Member’s Bill proposed by Ms Elizabeth Quat to incorporate wildlife trafficking and illegal trade crimes into the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO).
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this has not deterred wildlife crimes from being committed in Hong Kong with two seizures of shark fins, each involving more or less 13 metric tonnes of the contraband, in April and May 2020. Between 2018 and 2019, local authorities seized a record-breaking 649 metric tonnes of rare and endangered wildlife valued at HK$207 million, involving more than 7,000 live animals spanning 1,400 separate cases. That such transgressions continue to go from strength-to-strength is emblematic of the inadequacies and ineffectiveness of the penalties provided under OSCO. Similarly, the powers currently vested with investigators and enforcers are sorely lacking in addressing the trafficking and illegal trade of wildlife.
We believe the proposed Bill to amend OSCO by adding certain offences under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance to Schedule 1 of the OSCO will help combat organised and serious wildlife crimes by further empowering authorities to investigate and bring to justice masterminds behind such schemes. This would serve as a strong and effective deterrent instead of the current approach of expending precious resources on those on the lower rungs of labour in the illicit wildlife trade.
It is important and imperative that Hong Kong demonstrates the political will and commitment to changing our city from being a hub for the illegal wildlife trade to become a global leader in the fight against it. We believe the Bill as proposed by Ms Quat serves that purpose.
cc: Mr Wong Kam-sing, GBS, JP, Secretary for the Environment
cc: Mr Tang Ping-keung, PDSM, Secretary for Security
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