Posts Tagged ‘azrina abdullah’

Courts are Everything

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

In researching The Lizard King I discovered that historically the most important innovation in wildlife law enforcement was not more money or more cops, but a committed court.  The creation of the Wildlife and Marine Resources Division in the US Dept of Justice and its attendant Environmental Crimes Section in the wake of the Henry Molt reptile smuggling case was the single most important development in getting wildlife crimes prosecuted. AUSA (now judge) Chris McAliley modeled her prosecutorial office in Miami after the DOJ’s Environmental Crime Section as did a prosecutor in California, resulting in the two of the most effective wildlife enforcement jurisdictions in the world.   It’s worth adding that John Webb (below) was McAliley’s mentor.  As usual, Azrina Abdullah says it best:

Judges warm up to green issues  by Azrina Abdullah (22 Nov 2010)

MUCH has been said in my column and letters to the editor about the need for stronger enforcement and laws to shed Malaysia’s image as an illegal wildlife trade hub. The focus has been on enforcement. And to the government’s credit, laws have been improved and enforced, in addition to investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission of a senior staff of the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).

However, many tend to forget that judges play an essential role in the efforts to reduce wildlife trafficking. It is only in recent years that the judiciary was recognised as a key agent in the (more…)

A Malaysian Leader Speaks

Monday, October 11th, 2010

As usual, Azrina Abdullah says it all regarding illegal wildlife trade in Malaysia, Anson Wong, and the wildlife department in her latest column for The Sun.

Drunk or Sober–Fishing for Mr. Big

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Two news items out of Malaysia: In the first, from The Star, Malaysia’s wildlife department (Perhilitan) demonstrates why more and more people see the wildlife department as a bigger problem than even the wildlife traffickers who exploit the country.  “Illegal trade in wildlife is happening in Malaysia but it is still under control with effective enforcement,”  said Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Per­hilitan), in an interview with The Star newspaper of Malaysia(emphasis added).  “The department is doing everything within its authority and jurisdiction to curb illegal wildlife trade in Peninsular Malaysia.” 

Really?  That’s the department’s official response to years of wildlife trafficking, to a reputation for so little law enforcement that Malaysia is a favorite hub for criminal syndicates moving endangered wildlife from Africa, Asia, the US and Europe?  We have it under control?

Obviously, the wildlife department cannot and will not fix itself any more than an alcoholic can fix himself without help.  The Malaysian people and the world have confronted the department with its problem (we have had the intervention)–everyone (except the wildlife department) recognizes years of abuse has occurred–of smuggling, of issuing endangered species permits to smugglers, of poorly managed rescue centers, and on and on (click perhilitan in my blog and you’ll see some examples over just the past 2 years; here’s a good story today).  The first step to reforming an alcoholic is for the person to admit he has a problem.  Despite all the endangered species that have passed through Malaysia, the wildlife department is not even at this stage yet.  It still denies it has a problem.  A person in denial cannot be cured.

In the second news item, from The Sun, Azrina Abdullah makes the case for increasing the punishment on Anson Wong, listing major laws Anson recently broke, “Come Down Hard on Illegal Wildlife Traders.” 

(BTW, news outlets around the world have picked up The Lizard King to describe Anson Wong, drawing the moniker from my book.  As Ms. Abdullah points out, Wong is not The Lizard King; he was part of the syndicate described in my book.  Wong was, of course, the subject of the National Geogprahic story, The Kingpin, which makes a good nickname, too.)

Last up, Malaysia’s Ministry of Environment (MNRE), which oversees the wildlife department, announces today it is creating an internal audit committee to review standard operating procedures in enforcement of laws and regulations on poaching, whatever that means.  A similar announcement was made last spring.  Malaysia’s new laws are excellent steps forward, but the audit committee idea sounds like just another way of saying, We aren’t going to do anything.

Which brings me back to the first sentence of this post.