Commentary on the incident of the shooting of a RISDA officer whom a senior police officer mistook for a porcupine.
There was a curious report in the New Straits Times on 21 September 2010.
The gist of it is that a group of 9 porcupine hunters split into groups of 3 each. Ahmad Fadzillah, a senior police officer, who was using a shotgun to hunt porcupines was in one group. His unintended victim, Abdul Ghani Midon, who is attached to RISDA (Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority) was in another group. The report describes the incident:
At 5.10pm the same day, he said Ahmad Fadzillah and his team saw movements in the forest and thinking that it was their prey, he took a shot at it.
Instead, the shot hit above the left eye of Abdul Ghani Midon, 49, who is attached with Risda here.
Thankfully Abdul Ghani is still alive after the incident, after an 8 hour surgery. Pahang deputy police chief Datuk Sharifuddin Mohd Ghani remarked that Ahmad Fadzillah will be investigated pursuant to section 39 of the Arms Act 1960 (it was incorrectly reported as the “Firearms Act 1960” which does not exist) for possible negligence, notwithstanding that he had a hunting permit and license for the shotgun.
There are three items that merit comment out of this incident.
Firstly, why do you need a shotgun to hunt porcupines? These are not elephants, rhinos, buffaloes or lions that require such massive fire power to subdue. The African Wild Life Foundation’s website states that the porcupine are seen as one of the “Small Five” for hunting along with the aardvark, ratel, pangolin, and the naked mole-rat. And according to them, they are hunted using “using dogs, spears or nets, or smoked out of their burrows.” Sure a shotgun could be used to hunt small game but what challenge or game is there in killing such a small animal with such an awesome weapon?
Secondly, it is not clear from the report what type of porcupines we are talking about here. It is important because a very recent study by the University of East Anglia indicates that the porcupine Hystrix brachyura, which is natural to our country, is facing a massive drop in numbers because of overhunting. Granted the studies took place mainly in Vietnam but this should serve as reminder to consider our own hunting of the porcupine. Naturally the reporter for New Straits Times has no initiative whatsoever to look into our local porcupine population, so we know nothing about the situation locally.
Thirdly, Abdul Ghani was shot above the eye. Ahmad Fadzillah let off a shot because he saw movement in the forest. Without even calling out to check he fired. Without even going a little closer to confirm his target he fired off his shotgun. What the hell kind of hunting is this, shoot whatever that moves? I should think there is a prima facie case of negligence right there. Porcupines as I understand it are not able to fly. I am also aware they do not know kung-fu techniques that allow them to fly through the air. Therefore any shots fired at them should aimed towards the ground. Except for a ricochet it is near impossible that the shot pellets should fly so high for so far.
However, what this sorry incident does is provide another confirmation of our police culture of shooting first and explaining later. Datuk Sharifuddin said that Ahmad Fadzillah would be allowed to resume his duty as the shooting occurred during a hunting trip because he believes “it is not criminally-related.” I think that is a poor way of looking at it. The question is not whether Ahmad Fadzillah is a criminal but whether he is competent.
And finally, the incompetent reporter forgets to state just how many porcupines that that group of 9 successfully hunted that day.
LB: Fahri Azzat was a Tyrannosaurus Rex named “Bob” in his previous life during the tail end of the Cretaceous period and was reincarnated as a 21st century LoyarBurokker despite being imbued with the character and abilities of a late 19th century dilettante dandy. His current ambition right this very moment is to wear a top hat and coat tails while shopping for fake luxury watches at Petaling Street on a hot day.