Singer claims trial to keeping sun bear without permit

Singer Zarith Sofia Mohd Yasin at the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: A local singer claimed trial at the Sessions Court here today to two charges of keeping a sun bear, an endangered animal, without a permit.

Zarith Sofia Mohd Yasin was charged under Sections 69 (1) and 86 (1)(e) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 with keeping the animal without a permit and in a situation that is not conducive to its well-being.

The offence was said to have taken place on June 6, at the Sentrio Pandan apartment here.

If convicted, Zarith faces a maximum fine of RM200,000 or 10 years in jail for keeping the sun bear without a permit.

The maximum punishment for keeping the animal in an unsuitable place, meanwhile, is a RM50,000 fine or a one-year jail term.

Judge Manira Mohd Nor allowed Zarith bail of RM10,000 with one surety and ordered her to report to the nearest police station every month.

The court also ordered Zarith to surrender her passport.

Deputy public prosecutor Munira Zainal Abidin had objected to bail for Zarith on grounds that keeping a sun bear is a serious offence. She also said the singer might disturb potential witnesses in the coming trial.

“If the court wants to impose bail for her, then the amount should be RM30,000,” she said.

However, Zarith’s lawyer Haaziq Pillai Abdullah dismissed the possibility of witness tampering.

“Bail is to secure her attendance in court. It should not be excessive,” he said, adding that Zarith only earns RM3,500 each month as a singer.

He added that he was representing Zarith on a pro-bono basis as the singer did not know what to do in court.

Zarith, who was arrested last Friday, previously told the media that she found the bear injured at Bukit Ampang several weeks ago. She also said she had no intention of keeping the animal as a pet.