Anson Wong and Perhilitan Under Fire

Malaysia’s Natural Resources and Environment announced yesterday it would investigate Anson Wong’s ability to gain government approval for endangered species, such as tigers.  According to the following report appearing today in The Star, the Penang Government is also pressing for investigation.  Those who follow wildlife trade and corruption may recognize that promises were made by the Ministry shortly after The Lizard King was published last fall.  Promise was also made to step up border enforcement.  The question to monitor is whether this most recent promise is legitimate, or just another effort to make this issue go away.

Ministry to review Wong’s special permits
13 August 2009
PETALING JAYA: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will review former wildlife trafficker Anson Wong’s special permits and licences, and probe allegations that a high-ranking officer has been involved in his smuggling activities in the past.
Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said he had instructed officers to gather all the relevant documents from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) immediately to facilitate investigation into allegations of special permit abuses.
“We will check the background of Wong’s tigers. We will get to the bottom of this matter.
“We are concerned about the reputation of Malaysia being a trafficking hub and we are doing our best to curb this menace,” he told The Star yesterday.
He said Perhilitan had acknowledged that in the 1990s, auctioning of confiscated specimen was one of the disposal methods but that this practice had since been stopped.
Wong was convicted of trafficking in highly endangered species by the US government in 2001 and sentenced to 71 months in jail.
On Tuesday, the Penang Government demanded to know details of the special permit and licences issued to Wong over two Bengal tigers.


And another letter running yesterday on corruption in Malaysia’s Wildlife Department:

Illegal wildlife trade is hardly an ‘old story’

THE Perhilitan director-general’s reply on wildlife trade in Malaysia (Perhilitan D-G: Illegal trading on wildlife ‘an old story’, (The Star, Aug 11) caught me by surprise.

From my association with non-profit conservation groups in Malaysia and through volunteer work with them, illegal wildlife trade is not an old story; it is very much still rampant.

The tiger, pangolin, panther, clouded leopard, many species of birds and reptiles have been identified as the main targets of smugglers and poachers. Just a month ago, five pieces of tiger skins were seized at the Malaysia-Thai border.

Based on media coverage, Perhilitan and the Anti-Smuggling Unit have successfully stopped many shipments of our precious wildlife from being smuggled out of the country. All the evidence points to one simple conclusion – illegal wildlife trade is not fiction.

News of past liaisons between the high-ranking officer from Perhilitan and Anson Wong is also worrisome. By admitting that this is the story of the past, does this mean it really happened? If this is true, who else can our wildlife turn to if the guardians themselves are collaborating with the criminal?

Wong is a convicted criminal, and in the interview he admitted that greed was the reason he got caught. But why does he, or his company, still have permits to keep protected wildlife? And what is his current involvement with protected wildlife?

The public has the right to know all this. If everything is above board, there should be no reason to hide.

Kuala Lumpur.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Anson Wong and Perhilitan Under Fire”

  1. Bryan Christy » Blog Archive » Perhilitan Director-General Stripped, Investigation Announced Says:

    [...] today by Hilary Chiew in The Star.  To be seen is whether this is merely a shuffling of chairs or a truly meaningful reform.  One sign will no doubt be the result of the corruption [...]