Posts Tagged ‘Hilary Chiew’

Problem is with Ministry, says Expert

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

No journalist in Malaysia has done more on the illegal wildlife trade, including Anson Wong, than Hilary Chiew.  Below is her take on her meeting Anson Wong and her reasons why Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment cannot fix the wildlife department.

BTW, the suggestion that a lawsuit would answer the question how Anson Wong was able to smuggle for decades is a ruse to divert attention from a proper inquiry, and a threat to journalists, NGOs and Malaysian citizens who expose crimes. 

By endorsing a lawsuit, the Ministry is saying it denies the facts of The Kingpin story, denies the facts of Anson Wong’s U.S. confession, denies that the wildlife department has never once brought a material case against Anson Wong, and denies what NGOs and newspapers in Malaysia have reported for years: that species from all over the world are smuggled through Malaysia, making it a global wildlife trafficking hub.  The problem is obvious:  the wildlife department leadership either cannot, or will not, competently investigate wildlife traffickers.  Fixing that is simple, but, as Hilary Chiew suggests below, the Ministry appears to “lack competent personnel” along with “political will and determination.”

Constricted by Boas–The Fall of Anson Wong

By Hilary Chiew 

COMMENT “I don’t want to go to jail again.” — Those were the words uttered by Anson Wong slightly over a year ago to me.

I was confident that he said that with full knowledge that he is untouchable in Southeast Asia – one of the regions which had become a safe playground for the flamboyant wildlife trafficker.

There is an undoubted air of cockiness in Wong. His underlying message was: Catch me if you can!

From his Toshiba laptop, he nonchalantly showed photographs of him holding a Malagasy ploughshare tortoise purportedly in a market in the neighbouring Zanzibar island off Tanzania. He claimed that he was on holiday there, and declared that he has remained clean since returning from the United States sometime in 2004.

Now, what are the chances of a person who has been convicted of running a wildlife smuggling ring that specialises in rare reptiles like the endangered ploughshare tortoise taking a holiday in Zanzibar and stumbling upon the very same species far away from its native habitat? (more…)

Malaysian Tiger Zoo Exposed

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

This tiger zoo “could be one of the worst examples of a successful commercial enterprise riding on the back of exploiting, breeding and trading in endangered animals,” according to a story in today’s The Star by reporters Hilary Chiew and Joshua Foong.

The zoo, which is not identified in the story, is Saleng Zoo of Johor, Malaysia, owned by the company T.C. Arapaima & Tropical Fish founded by Chai Sip Yee.  Malaysia’s Wildlife Department, Perhilitan, has raided Johor Zoo in the past.   As reported here, the zoo has been subject to 7 wildlife investigations, including a shocking one in which 19 tiger cubs were found in a freezer.  In another, the zoo was implicated in the A’Famosa Resort’s orangutan smuggling case

Like so much, this story also has a link to Anson Wong.  In August 2004 Perhilitan authorized TC Arapaima to trade 2 tiger cubs for 2 of Anson’s Aldabra tortoises.  In the following news story’s chart on tiger possession, Anson’s operation appears as Desa Flora Dan Fauna

(In a related story, NGOs in Malaysia again call for stricter controls of “Special Permits.”)

And so it goes… 

Popular zoo has tame front but may hide ‘wild’ activities

The Star, March 3, 2010

IT brands itself as a zoo and brags about the conservation works it does. It also proudly talks of its educational role in highlighting the plight of endangered species.  But behind its animal-loving front, this popular private establishment in the southern part of Peninsula Malaysia could be one of the worst examples of a successful commercial enterprise riding on the back of exploiting, breeding and trading in endangered animals.

This zoo, like several others, has earned a name for itself by announcing the birth of new tiger cubs to coincide with major events like the Lunar New Year, or even to commemorate the death of celebrities like Michael Jackson.

To many, it’s the perfect zoo…   Read the rest..

U.S. Global Exotics loses appeal

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I’m in a PETA frame of mind because PETA coordinated the investigation and raid of U.S. Global Exotics, of Arlington, Texas, the largest exotic wildlife seizure in U.S. history.  Saturday, a judge upheld PETA on appeal.  Now, in the reptile world PETA is hated.  At my first Daytona Show python breeder Bob Clark was wearing a t-shirt that read People Eating Tasty Animals, and I was often accused of being a Peta-mole, a bunny hugger, and other nasties, until people got to know me.  Then they just called me an asshole.  In a nice way.

PETA is using the USGE case to urge a ban on imports from Malaysia and to advocate a ban on pet shops in the United States:  “Please don’t shop at PETCO or PetSmart and tell your friends not to either, and to never support any pet store that sells live animals,” was posted on its blog.  

Without a pet shop, I never would have developed my love for wildlife so I can’t agree with that latter proposal.  What surprises me is that no one is using the USGE case to call for minimum standards of care for the sale of exotics.  From the time I was a boy, I have gone in every pet store I have ever seen.  This applies anywhere in the world.  If I see a pet store I have to go in it.  I don’t know why.  For years, that meant seeing alot of reptiles in poor conditions.  Lately that has changed.  Many pet stores recognize the value of well cared for reptiles.  Still, others treat their reptiles as trash pets.  There ought to be minimum standards of cleanliness, space, food and water for those animals and there ought to be better standards among breeders and keepers, too. 

In the small world category, USGE, owned by Jasen and Vanessa Shaw of New Zealand, is a customer of Anson Wong’s companies, as reported by Hilary Chiew of Malaysia’s The Star and by, which kindly mentions my book, The Lizard King.