Posts Tagged ‘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.

From The Sun (Malaysia)

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

The Lizard King in Malaysia

(Feb 11, 2009), The Sun, Malaysia

BRYAN CHRISTY, author of The Lizard King – The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers, was in the region to promote his book recently. Christy spent nearly four years researching his book, focusing on a true story of America’s biggest reptile smuggler, Mike Van Nostrand, and Chip Bepler, the federal agent, who built a case against Van Nostrand, in the face of many challenges.

The book has made people take notice of wildlife trade in Malaysia, and that it is an issue which should be addressed effectively by the government and civil society.

The issue of illegal wildlife trade has been recognised by the government as something of a concern. Malaysia became a member of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, in 1978. However, the outdated Protection of Wildlife Act 1976 is still used in Peninsular Malaysia to protect wildlife from being illegally traded. The Act has inadequate provisions to penalise illegal traders, including very low penalties, which many consider as a slap on the wrist for the offender trading illegally in valuable and endangered species.

Many NGOs have pushed for the review and changes to the Protection of Wildlife Act 1976 since 1998 to (more…)

Malaysia’s The Sun: Christy ‘Champion of the Reptile World’

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

What a generous title!  S. Indra Sathiabalan of The Sun and I sat down at a Starbuck’s in Kuala Lumpur for this interview.  Indra brought to our talk a sincere reading of the book and it was a great pleasure spending some time together.  I might quibble with some edges (and the photo–if I’m going to look like that anyway I ought to drink more whisky at breakfast) but I couldn’t be prouder that the book evokes comparison to Elmore Leonard all the way around the world and resonates with Malaysians who want to clean up the wildlife trade in their country.  Here is the story as it ran in hard copy:   champion-of-reptile-world and below sans photos (a technological glitch–really.).

Champion of reptile world

Bryan Christy weaves an interesting story about reptile smugglers and the dedicated law enforcement officers who go after them

By: S. Indra Sathiabalan (Wed, 28 Jan 2009)
has a funny way of coming full circle. As a young boy living in southern New Jersey, Bryan Christy had a fascination for reptiles. In fact, bringing a five-foot long King snake to school made him the most popular boy around.

Who knew that this childhood fascination would eventually lead him to write his first book, The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers.

Christy has previously worked as a morticians’ apprentice (his family business) and then later as a lawyer. He then started writing articles for Playboy Magazine and National Geographic. It was while researching for The Lizard King that Christy decided to give up his career as a lawyer and concentrate full-time as a writer. (more…)