ASEAN Rangers Empowered with Personal Connections to Parliamentarians and High-Level Managerial Training
This week, 21 rangers from protected areas in Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia and Thailand graduated from a 16-day managers training course where they gained knowledge in command, leadership and management of enforcement operations that they can use to protect their country’s wildlife. They also made key personal connections with lawmakers.
In a first for the region, 10 members of parliament from countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) joined the ranger training to witness first-hand the work of conservation front-liners. Members of parliament and senior parliamentary staff from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam took part in the three-day ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) – Ranger Interaction, Field Mission and Networking Dialogue. The AIPA delegates were able to communicate with, observe and learn from the rangers, establishing relationships that will lead to greater cooperation and understanding when they enact wildlife protection laws in future.
The rangers completed the highest level of the Protected-area Operational & Tactical Enforcement Conservation Training (PROTECT) courses, which are conducted regularly at a training center in Cha-am, Thailand, with funding from the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Organized by USAID and INL implementing partner, Freeland, the PROTECT Managers course is the first to receive The American Council on Education’s recommendation for college credit as part of Criminal Justice programs. It includes theory training at the state-of-the-art facilities and practical skills in the field, such as: lesson planning, ranger relations and management, commands, patrol mapping and operation simulations.
Many of the students had previously completed one or more of the other PROTECT courses. For the Indonesian contingent – made up of 10 rangers from Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and other regions – the managers course complemented their training in PROTECT Team Leader and Special Response Team courses.
“This truly fascinating course involves the latest techniques and equipment, and has taught us a range of skills we can apply in our workplace – particularly how to effectively organize our staff. This is in addition to the invaluable abilities we learnt and replicated from the previous courses. We will now be highly competent in protecting our natural resources, both nationally and worldwide,” said Indonesian ranger Herwin Hermawan, the top-scoring student from the course.
The unprecedented opportunity to get to know regional lawmakers was another clear advantage for the participants.
“As a lawmaker, one of my duties is to make sure they [the rangers] are given enough power and facilities to do their job properly. We [lawmakers] may not realize there are certain things they need, or that there are grey areas in the law that can be fixed. That’s why I said to them they if they have any problem, contact me and I can flag it in the parliament,” said the Honorable Khoo Soo Seang, House of Representatives of Malaysia.
“He [Malay MP] really wants to know what, from my side on the ground, needs to be improved. There’s a couple of things I mentioned that I intend to follow up on,” said Sharon Koh, a Malaysian student.
“Coming here and observing the training really underscores what we need to do. You appreciate what resources are needed to protect our wildlife, the hard work of our front-liners, and what kind of technical capabilities and skills are required. So it has a greater effect on us,” said the Honorable Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba, House of Representatives of the Philippines.
Note to Editor
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The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) is a regional legislative networking body comprising legislatures from all 10 ASEAN member states which seeks for enhancing common legal framework through the ‘AIPA Caucus’, a core group of parliamentarians, mandated to advocate harmonization of laws in prime issues such as drug and human trafficking, health, women, security and economic and political matters.
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) – The mission of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the U.S. Department of State is to minimize the impact of international crime and illegal drugs on the United States and its citizens through providing effective foreign assistance and through fostering global cooperation.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient societies to realize their potential. Following 50 years of improving lives through development and humanitarian assistance, USAID is the principal U.S. Government development agency partnering with countries throughout the world to promote peace, prosperity and security. Please visit www.usaid.gov/asia-regional or follow www.facebook.com/USAIDAsia and @USAIDAsia on Twitter for more information.
Freeland is a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Our team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. Freeland is also the lead implementing partner of “ARREST” (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), the U.S. Government’s largest counter-wildlife trafficking program, which is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more info, visit www.freeland.org follow Freeland on twitter @FREELANDpeople or facebook.com/freelandfoundation