Ministry of Ouroboros

In the Thanksgiving rush, I forgot to post this letter.  It is the Malaysian Environmental Ministry’s response to letters written to the New Straits Times newspaper after the paper ran a series of stories and letters on The Lizard King.  To summarize events so far, the NST profiled me and the book; the Malaysian Wildlife Department “Perhilitan” called my book complete fiction (and other bad words); conservationists objected to Perhilitan’s defensive response to The Lizard King and called for a corruption investigation of Perhilitan.  At points along the way the Ministry overseeing Perhilitan, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, also wrote letters to the NST and to other newspapers.  In some cases the Ministry promised to do more, in other cases it said it was doing more than enough.  Below is the Ministry’s response to two letters criticizing the Ministry for not doing enough on corruption and wildlife crime.  I’ll let you judge the Secretary General’s letter yourself.  It is worth noting that Anson Wong admitted in U.S. court to a decade of smuggling protected wildlife to the United States…

To The Editor
New Straits Times, 2008/11/24
By AMERJIT SINGH for Secretary-General Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment, Putrajaya

I REFER to the letters by E.L. of Petaling Jaya and Tan Yok Koon of Puchong (“Don’t skirt the central issue” and “Disheartening” — NST, Oct 24) on the issue of the export of illegally obtained wildlife. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) has always addressed corruption issues seriously, especially when it concerns its officials.

In the case of Anson Wong, the wildlife dealer from Penang, Perhilitan had monitored his import/export activities closely since 1985 in ensuring that he abided by domestic laws and procedures.

The importation of wildlife into Peninsular Malaysia is allowed only if accompanied by valid documents from the exporting countries, as required by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

Within Peninsular Malaysia, the domestic law authorises Perhilitan to monitor wildlife species kept in any premises. These will be confiscated if found to have been kept without a licence from Perhilitan.

The investigation into Wong’s activities resulted in Perhilitan imposing fines on him for importing and keeping wildlife without a licence.

He was even fined for recording the wrong information in his dealer’s book.

Perhilitan’s policy and procedures on licensing are implemented strictly by officials.

In 1999, Penang’s Perhilitan was accredited with MS ISO 9002 certification, a quality system developed for wildlife import and export. It requires three levels of inspection by different personnel prior to the issuance of import/export documents.

These levels of inspections are required during application, preparation and approval of the documents.

Prior to importation or exportation, final inspection of the consignment will take place and any non-compliance will result in the seizure of consignments.

Perhilitan could not stop the self-aggrandisement claims by Wong or anyone else, for that matter, from claiming to have strong connections with Perhilitan officials for easy access to Cites permits.

With its vast experience and knowledge on Cites procedures, Perhilitan would suggest that Traffic, a non-governmental organisation, study Perhilitan’s Cites annual reports, which are submitted to the Cites secretariat and posted on the World Conservation Monitoring Centre website for detection of any irregularities or proof of malpractices.

Should further clarification be needed on this matter, the Perhilitan director-general can be reached at

You can search my blog on for “Perhilitan” and related terms to see the scope of this issue.

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