Sr. Malaysian Official Admits Link Between Wildlife Department and Smuggler

November 6th, 2012

This story ran yesterday in Malaysia’s The Star:

Perhilitian officers transferred every 3 years to prevent collusion with poachers


KUALA LUMPUR: Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) officers are transferred to another place every three years to prevent them from colluding with wildlife smugglers, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas on Monday.

This practice came about in the heels of the case of international wildlife trader Anson Wong, who allegedly worked together with Perhilitan officers in smuggling animals.

“The standard operating procedures for Perhilitan have been changed so that wildlife trafficking can be contained.

“We realise that there are Perhilitan officers who may have been involved in Wong’s operations. We have conducted investigations but it has not been easy,” Uggah told the Dewan Rakyat when winding up the Budget 2013 debate at the committee stage.

He said “familiarity becomes a problem” when an officer has been in the same place for too long.

“The ministry is very concerned if there are any abuse of power and will ensure that our officers have a strong sense of integrity,” he said.

He said this when answering a question raised by Lim Guan Eng (DAP – Bagan) who asked whether the ministry had conducted a probe into allegations that Perhilitan officers conspired with Wong and Read the rest of this entry »


September 15th, 2012


A story by photographer Brent Stirton and me on the global ivory trade, BLOOD IVORY:  Ivory Worship, is up on National

Check out the new website.  I will continue to post here on issues related to The Lizard King book, but the new site is where I’ll call home, including my new Bryan Christy blog.

Malaysia Launches GREEN COURTS, Takes Global Leadership Role on Environmental Crime

September 12th, 2012

Everyone knows that wildlife law enforcement around the world is terribly underfunded and that hardly any wildlife traffickers ever go to jail.  In The Lizard King, the very motivated Agent Chip Bepler couldn’t get federal prosecutors to take his endangered species cases when they had the NY mafia’s John Gotti to go after. 

I have said it before, but one of my discoveries while researching The Lizard King was that historically the most important innovation in wildlife law enforcement was not more money or more cops, but a committed court.  Perhaps the key step a country can take to reduce environmental crime is to separate environmental prosecutions from other forms of crime. When the US Department of Justice did this it revolutionized wildlife and environmental prosecutions in the US.   Today’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division enables federal wildlife and environmental investigators to take their cases directly to a knowledgeable prosecutor, who can help push a case forward.   In The Lizard King, AUSA Chris McAlilley created a mini-version of the ENRD in the Miami office of the Justice Department and that move ended up key to sending Mike Van Nostrand to prison.

And so it is with this background one should consider this news from Malaysia this week:  “The Environmental Court set up by the judiciary on Sept 3 will start operations on Monday.”  Malaysia is launching Green Courts!   Here is the full story in The Star

And lest anyone forget, this effort to create a green court rises in large part from the voice of  Azrina Abdullah, who called for a green court in her editorial November 2010.  The voice of committed individuals can make a difference around the world.  It takes passion and brains, and Azrina Abdullah has both.