Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang on the 29th of November 2013 in Kuala Lumpur
The Al-Jazeera 101 East program – “The Return of the Lizard King” – was published on the 21st November, 2013 and it raised many serious issues which must be answered by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, G. Palanivel namely:
(1) After Anson Wong’s arrest in August 2010 for transporting almost 100 boa constrictors, Perhilitan raided Wong’s reptile sanctuary in Teluk Bahang where 50 wild animals were removed. Why was Anson Wong not charged given that this was his reptile sanctuary?
(2) When Anson was arrested in August 2010, his laptop and 3 phones were confiscated. This presumably would have had important information pertaining to his wildlife smuggling activities including possible contacts in Perhilitan. What was the outcome of the investigation?
(3) In 2010, a student by the name of Sarah Sahondrarisoa, who was featured in the Al-Jazeera program, said that she was paid by Anson Wong to transport bags containing wildlife into Malaysia. She was caught during her 2nd trip to Malaysia and was jailed for 8 months during which she gave birth in prison. Why wasn’t Anson Wong investigated and prosecuted based on the proof and testimony given by Sarah including a phone with numbers and pictures which were confiscated?
(4) The premises of Rona Wildlife, at No.125X, Desa Tanjong, Jalan Tanjong Tokong, 10470 Georgetown, Penang, was highlighted in the program and albino pythons and vipers were found at the premises by Steve Chao. Although the registered owner of Rona Wildlife is not Wong or his wife, the employee said on camera that Anson Wong was his boss. Surely, this is a basis for Perhilitan to visit the premises, if not raid the premises as allowed for under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010? In a response that was issued today, Perhilitan said that “based on our checks, Rona Wildlife’s registered owner is Radamani Govindan. Anson Wong is not listed as an owner, shareholder board member of the company”. They also said that “physical inspection and compliance checks on Rona Wildlife’s premises have been conducted regularly”. I checked the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) yesterday night and I found that Radamani Govindan had resigned as the owner on the 4th of July, 2013 and has been replaced by Muthukomar A/L Kuppan. If their information is outdated by 4 months, how can we trust that they have had regular compliance checks especially when the Al-Jazeera program with the video showing the albino snakes were filmed in November?
(5) The program also showed 3 serval cats in the Telok Bahang reptile sanctuary and these cats are listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). This alone should be sufficient for Perhilitan to raid the area.
(6) Perhilitan claims that all licenses for wildlife trading and selling belonging to Anson and his wife have been revoked in 2010 but their companies, namely Sungai Rusa Wildlife, CBS Wildlife, Bukit Jambul Reptile Sanctuary, all of which have wildlife trading activities listed as their business.
(7) If Perhilitan and the Minister is serious about stopping the illegal wildlife smuggling activities of Anson Wong and his wife, why not use the powers under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 to raid all of the properties belonging to Anson and his wife to see if there is other wildlife there?
(8) In the Al-Jazeera program, Minister Palanivel said that he would clamp down on corruption in his Ministry. If this is the case, he should update the public as to the result of the MACC investigation into Perhilitan after Anson Wong’s arrest in 2010.
The Minister G. Palanivel, when interviewed by Steve Chao, admitted that he had not known of Anson Wong prior to that day even though Wong was described as the Pablo Escobar of wildlife smuggling and had achieved worldwide notoriety including from the US Wildlife department which organized a special ‘sting’ just to capture him in Mexico in 1999. We call upon Minister G. Palanivel to hold a comprehensive inquiry into how Anson Wong was allowed to continue his activities in keeping and trading wildlife despite having his licenses revoked by Perhilitan in 2010 and to address the questions raised above.