By Dylan Ong, Sara Sukor [Admin note: For background on Anson Wong, see this post.\
We watched in utter disbelief as evidence upon evidence was presented to implicate that notorious Malaysian wildlife smuggler Anson Wong is still in business, despite the authorities’ continued insistence that all of his wildlife trading permits had been revoked following his conviction in 2010.
In the documentary ‘Return of the Lizard King’, Steve Chao of Al Jazeera’s 101 East programme and his team spent a year tracing the footprints of Anson Wong and his wife Cheah Bing Shee’s illicit activities across the globe.
The documentary team didn’t need to look so far, however, as the most damning pieces of the puzzle were right here in Malaysia - exotic animals were still being kept on Wong and Cheah’s business premises in Penang, with Wong refusing to even issue a simple denial to the reporter’s question on whether he was still in the business of trafficking wildlife.
If a reporter with no legal mandate can uncover such compelling evidence, surely the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) should also have by now uncovered much more than they claim to know? And yet, we get the same old response that they are “still investigating”. After all these years, this is no longer acceptable. DWNP confiscated Wong’s mobile phone and notebook during the 2010 bust, what was the outcome from that investigation?
It would seem that DWNP had never really intended to follow through with its investigation all along, but was merely biding its time in hope that the issue would eventually go away.
Unfortunately for the department, that didn’t happen. Now, in failing to stem the illicit activities of this twice-convicted, globally notorious felon on his home soil once again, the department has sunk into even deeper infamy. And Malaysia’s reputation as a fortress for wildlife smugglers has been re-affirmed.
The department certainly did not do its own image any favours by failing to take action against those in the department who were known to be close to Wong.
On the contrary, Misliah Mohamed Basir, who was singled out in Brian Christy’s book ‘The Lizard King’ as having a close relationship with Wong did not just escape disciplinary action or at least put in cold storage as one might expect. Instead, she was rewarded with a promotion to the post of deputy director-general of DWNP. More....