By Teoh El Sen
Malaysia is well-loved by wildlife traffickers as one of the top destinations when it comes to plying their lucrative trade.
This— claims the Al-Jazeera reporter whose report on Friday exposed the alleged return of notorious wildlife trafficker, ‘Lizard King’ Anson Wong— was largely due to the “low risks” of being caught in this country.
“Why? They told us very clearly as well... that it is because the risk here is very low, that authorities let them get away with incredible amounts,” Steve Chao of 101East told Astro AWANI in an interview.
Chao said Thailand used to be the number one in South East Asia but the country has recently come down hard on the trade, which estimatedly rakes in some $19 billion (RM61b) a year.
“We know the focus in now in Indonesia and Malaysia. These countries are havens for wildlife traffickers in terms of places where they can store their stocks before being sold worldwide,” said Chao.
“Criminals believe that they are able to get away with a great deal here in Malaysia and until that stops... Malaysia will continue to be used as a transit hub.”
Chao alleged that he had collected enough evidence to show that officials in various countries are complicit in helping the thriving wildlife trade.
“We are very clear that from Madagascar to Thailand to Indonesia to Malaysia. We have conclusive testimony and proof that time and again, Customs officials and wildlife officials were on the take and were often complicit in aiding and abetting wildlife traffickers,” he said.
Chao cited an incident where he was filming at the KLIA airport where a well known international smuggler was spotted.
“We were waiting to get into the cargo area…while we were waiting in the front lobby, we saw another well known smuggler come in, bypass the front desk and go to the back… pick up a box of goods… go back out and within minutes he was posting on Facebook telling his customers he has got his supply.”
Meanwhile, an attempt by Astro AWANI to get an official response from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has so far been unsuccessful. More....