Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Case of Pagar Makan Padi

August 29, 2009
MACC gets wildlife memos

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of animal rights activists has submitted documents to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to back their allegations against the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).

The documents allegedly show Perhilitan deputy director-general Misliah Mohamad Basir endorsing the renewal of special permits for convicted wildlife trafficker Anson Wong.

The endorsement later led to the approval of the special permits by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

Malaysian Animal Rights Society president N. Surendran said the documents were dated 1998 to 2003 and were correspondence between Misliah, who was the then Penang Perhilitan director-general, with the head office in Kuala Lumpur.

“During that time, Wong was in prison in the United States for wildlife smuggling. How can the permits be renewed for a man who is in jail for wildlife smuggling?” asked Surendran as he showed the letters bearing Misliah’s signature to reporters.

“We believe the special permits were used as a cover to facilitate wildlife smuggling all over the world. It is embarrassing that Malaysia is helping Wong with his smuggling activities.”

He showed reporters a letter dated March 24, 1998 in which the ministry approved Wong’s request to have a tiger shipped to Higashi Tsukuba Utopia Zoological Garden in Japan.

The group checked and could not find any information on the zoo, and yet Wong now had permits from Perhilitan to keep two tigers.

Surendran called on the ministry to abolish the special permits.

Pet Positive president and PJ councillor Anthony Siva Balan Thanasayan demanded that Misliah be sacked to restore confidence in Perhilitan.

On Aug 14, the group filed reports with the commission, urging it to probe allegations of Perhilitan’s link with Wong made by author Bryan Christy in his book The Lizard King.

On the same day, Misliah dismissed the group’s claims.

She said the signatures on the documents were forged and that Wong had complied with local laws and had the necessary licences.

The others who accompanied Surendran and Anthony were Malaysia Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan, SPCA Selangor chairman Christine Chin, Independent Living and Training Centre president Francis Siva and two MPs – S. Manikavasagam (Kapar) and M. Manogaran (Teluk Intan).
* Pagar Makan Padi = Fence to protect instead destroy the paddy

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Poaching at Belum-Temengor....AGAIN!

August 27, 2009
Groups concerned over poaching at Belum-Temengor forest

PETALING JAYA: Wildlife conservation organisations are concerned over the number of poaching cases at the Belum-Temengor forest in Perak.

Worldwide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF) and Traffic, which monitors the trading of protected species, believe that the porous border between the forest and Thailand is a reason for the activity.

The WWF’s Wildlife Protection Unit head Ahmad Zafir said the area was easily accessible via the 80km long Gerik-Jeli highway that cuts across the area.

There were five cases this year, involving Thai and Cambodian nationals who set traps in the area and smuggle protected animals out of the country, he added.

He said the latest case involved a 55-year-old man from Chiang Rai, Thailand. He was caught with scales of a pangolin and six sacks of agarwood, or gaharu, by Malaysian police two weeks ago.

“Intelligence-led investigations are needed to remove the masterminds and backers behind the scourge,” Traffic’s Chris R. Shepherd said.

WWF CEO Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the Government should form a task force, comprising the army, Immigration, Customs and Perak state parks corporation, and the forestry department to stamp out poaching and cross-border encroachment.

Meanwhile, Perhilitan seized a pair of Malayan honey bear limbs during a raid at a business premises in Kemaman early in the month.

Perhilitan legal and enforcement director Saharudin Anan said: “Investigations revealed that the bear was caught at a nearby jungle and its limbs were to be used in the preparation of soup”.

In another operation on Aug 18, Perhilitan raided another business premises in Seri Kembangan and seized six night herons, three painted storks, two lesser thick-billed green pigeons, two pythons and two water monitors.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Who do you trust?

Who do you trust?
A) The robbers cum theives of Barisan Najis.
B) The "good storytellers" of Penan tribespeople.

Tribes block roads toSarawak plantation developers
25 August, 2009

Hundreds of Penan tribespeople in Sarawak are blockading roads to stop forests being cleared for palm oil plantations.

Seven roadblocks are now in place, manned by Penan armed with spears and blowpipes, and loggers trucks are being prevented from reaching felling sites.

Penan chiefs say that their forest homelands are under threat from wholesale clear felling for plantations.

"Since these companies came in, life has been very hard for us," said Alah Beling, headman of the Long Belok."The forest was once our supermarket, but now it's hard to find food."

He said that the activities of the plantation companies, who want to plant palm oil trees for food production and biofuel, have also polluted local rivers and affected fishing.

Sarawak's rural development minister James Masing admitted some logging companies had "caused extensive damage". But he also maintained that the Penan were "good storytellers" and that their claims should be treated with caution.

He also said that Sarawak was committed to its goal of doubling palm oil plantation coverage to 1 million hectares.
More reports here

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wildlife Smuggler from Penang

August 21, 2009
Report lodged against convicted wildlife smuggler, two govt agencies

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of non-governmental organisations has lodged a police report against convicted wildlife smuggler Anson Wong, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and the Customs Department.

Speaking to reporters after lodging the report at the Brickfields Police Station, Malaysian Animal Rights Society president R. Surendran said:

“The reason we are lodging the police report is because, over the years Perhilitan has failed to take any action against Wong for smuggling and has even given him special permits to catch and keep animals.

“We know that one of the modus operandi of wildlife traffickers is to get permits to keep animals and later declare them dead, when in actual fact they have been smuggled out of the country,” he said.

Last Friday, Surendran lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on possible corruption involving Perhilitan.

The report lodged was also based on the book The Lizard King that exposed the existence of such a trade in the country.

He cited page 192 of the book by American Bryan Christy that highlighted a relationship between Wong and a “second-ranked Customs official” in Penang.

He called on the police to investigate Wong’s activities since the 1990s.

Also present with Surendran Friday were representatives from the Malaysian Animal Welfare Society, Pet Positive and the Independent Living and Training Centre.

Two Members of Parliament -‑ S. Manikavasagam (Kapar) and M. Manogaran (Teluk Intan) ‑- accompanied the group.

Manikavasagam said that he would raise the issue in Parliament during the October meeting.

August 17, 2009
Author: Wong downplayed smuggling role

PETALING JAYA: In Philadelphia, 15,200km away from here, author of The Lizard King, Bryan Christy is keenly following recent news on infamous wildlife trafficker Anson Wong Keng Liang — one of the key characters in his book.

Christy uploaded the Starprobe stories on Malaysia being an illegal wildlife trade hotspot on his blog ( and expressed his feelings on Wong’s comment about him.

Amused, he wrote: “As for his remembering our time together as only a 15-minute assignation followed by an offer of a lift home, I feel cheap…yet pregnant.”

Wong had downplayed the intimate information of his smuggling activities detailed by Christy in the book released last September.

In his latest entry, Christy said he was pleased that the Malaysian public are speaking up as shown by the letters to The Star, calling for investigations into the allegations of the involvement of a high-ranking officer in the Department of Wildlife and National Park (Perhilitan) in Wong’s trafficking activities that led to his incarceration in the United States in 2001.

Wong was lured by an undercover agent to Mexico in 1998 and later extradited to the US at the end of 2000.

He pleaded guilty to some 40 counts of smuggling, conspiracy, money laundering and violations of US wildlife protection laws and was sentenced to a 71-month jail term and fined US$60,000.

The three-year Operation Chameleon infiltrated Wong’s network which imported and exported more than 300 protected species by concealing them in express delivery packages, airline baggages and large commercial shipment of legally approved animals.

The ring also trafficked in several extremely endangered reptile species in the wild, including the Komodo dragon and the rarest tortoise species on earth, the Malagasy ploughshare tortoise.

The Starprobe articles also attracted the attention of local bloggers including one who is acquainted with Wong.

Zeek ( said he remembered Wong fondly as the Ah Liang uncle that he used to hang out with when he was younger.


August 13, 2009
Ministry to review Wong’s special permits

PETALING JAYA: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will review former wildlife trafficker Anson Wong’s special permits and licences, and probe allegations that a high-ranking officer has been involved in his smuggling activities in the past.

Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said he had instructed officers to gather all the relevant documents from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) immediately to facilitate investigation into allegations of special permit abuses.

“We will check the background of Wong’s tigers. We will get to the bottom of this matter.

“We are concerned about the reputation of Malaysia being a trafficking hub and we are doing our best to curb this menace,” he told The Star yesterday.

He said Perhilitan had acknowledged that in the 1990s, auctioning of confiscated specimen was one of the disposal methods but that this practice had since been stopped.

Wong was convicted of trafficking in highly endangered species by the US government in 2001 and sentenced to 71 months in jail.

On Tuesday, the Penang Government demanded to know details of the special permit and licences issued to Wong over two Bengal tigers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oil Palm and Sarawak Native Land

16 Aug 2009
Iban farmer arrested for defending his NCR land

Matek Anak Geram, an Iban farmer, a member of TAHABAS (Sarawak Native Customary Rights Network) and Committee Member of Jaringan Orang Asli SeMalaysia (JOAS) was arrested by the police on 13 August 2009 for the crime of allegedly restraining the workers of an oil palm plantation.

Unarmed, he was taken into custody by 10- fully-armed police personnel at 8.45 am and detained for two hours at the Mukah Police Station and charged for allegedly wrongfully restraining the workers of an oil palm plantation company, Saradu Plantations Sdn. Bhd. under section 341 of the Penal Code before being released on bail.

For over a year, Matek and his immediate family have been guarding their property against Saradu Plantations who have been encroaching on their native lands.

In individual shifts, they have blocked an access road built on their land.

JOAS questions the heavy use of force and intimidation against one unarmed man and calls for neutrality of the state infrastructure in this legal dispute between the private company and indigenous peoples.

Saradu Plantation Sdn. Bhd. is a Sarawak oil palm company, which has been given 15,000 hectares of land by the state government to develop oil palm in Balingian.

Saradu is also linked to the Sarawak Chief Minister as his brother-in law, Robert Geneid and sister, Raziah Mahmud are majority shareholders of the company.

JAOS said: “Matek Geram’s case is just one of hundreds of land encroachment and conflict cases between indigenous peoples and oil palm plantation companies in Sarawak.

“In light of this, JOAS reiterates its support for the recent call from TAHABAS and other indigenous peoples organisations for a moratorium on plantation development projects.

“JOAS reiterates its position that the State Government-issued provisional leases are encroaching illegally into our constitutionally-recognised customary lands and forests.

“Until the government moves towards a meaningful solution with the full and effective participation and consent of indigenous peoples, incidences like Matek Geram will continue to take place throughout the state, to the detriment of the rights of indigenous Sarawakians, the sustainable development of the Sarawakian population and the image of the state of Sarawak and Malaysia,” it said.-
The Broken Shield

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Act of God in Sarawak

August 15, 2009
Sudden storm souses Sarawak fires

KUALA BARAM: It was “divine assistance’’ in the form of a sudden and unexpected storm lasting only 30 minutes that finally doused the forest fires and peat fires that have destroyed more than 3,000 hectares of land near the Sarawak-Brunei border.

The storm unleashed a heavy downpour at about 1am early Saturday and put out the fires that had been raging out of control for almost one month in the Kuala Baram district some 35kms north of Miri city.

More than 200 firefighters fought the battle round-the-clock for more than two weeks hampered by the dry weather and lack of water, and the huge area on fire.

The finally helped them put out the fires, including the underground fires in peat land

The fire teams that had been camping day and night at the fire zones have also packed up and left.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam confirmed Saturday that the rain had also put out most of the fires in other parts of Sarawak.

“However, the people are advised to still adhere to all precautions against the fires. They must also take this opportunity to conserve as much water as they can.

“I am worried that after next week, we may suffer another prolonged dry spell,’’ said Dr Chan, who is State Disaster Relief Committee chairman.

Dr Chan said the enforcement agencies must also prepare itself to face another round of fires and drought and put on standby the necessary manpower and equipment to be used whenever needed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade of Penang

August 12, 2009
Tell us about the tigers, says exco man

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Government wants the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) to reveal details of the special permit and licences it issued to convicted wildlife trafficker Anson Wong for his two tigers.

Wong’s two Bengal tigers were previously kept at the Bukit Jambul Hibiscus, Orchids and Reptile Farm but have been moved to a private location near the Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve.

They will eventually be housed in a reptile garden in the forest reserve.

State exco member Phee Boon Poh said that since tigers were a protected species, the state government wanted to know how the tigers came about.

“We want to know the origin of Wong’s tigers as they will eventually be placed at the reptile garden which is a state project,” he said.

Phee said Wong had claimed he had authorisation to transfer the tigers, which were moved on July 29, and criticised Perhilitan for its lack of supervision during the relocation.

Wong, dubbed the “Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade” after the Colombian drug lord, was convicted of trafficking in highly endangered species by the US government in 2001 and sentenced to 71 months in jail.

He spoke exclusively to Starprobe detailing his involvement in the trade.

He was released on parole in 2004, and the 51-year-old businessman now runs an air cargo delivery service in Penang.

Many conservation groups have questioned how Wong acquired his tigers, a totally protected species in the country that has been banned from international trade since 1975.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has stressed that the tiger park project in Relau proposed by the current Pakatan state government has no link to Wong.

Meanwhile, Nik Naizi Husin reports Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup as saying that the Government would never tolerate the trafficking of wildlife.

He said the Government was in the process of amending the present Wildlife Act and this would allow more stringent action against traffickers.

“The amendment process would take time and currently its draft is in the Attorney-General’s office,” he said after launching the Rakan Alam Sekitar programme for Maran Parliamentary Constituency here yesterday.

Monday, August 10, 2009

News On Illegal animal trading in Malaysia

The root of all these evil illegal animal tradings in Malaysia is CORRUPTION!
They can crow until the sun come home! They still don't get it!
August 10, 2009
Illegal animal trading puts Malaysia on the world map for all the wrong reasons

KUALA LUMPUR: In 2006, Taiwanese authorities seized a three-tonne shipment of ivory from Tanzania worth RM25mil that had transited Penang port.

An Indian national who was caught with an illegal consignment of Indian star tortoises at the KL International Airport in 2007 said he was paid to bring it into the country for a Malaysian buyer.
In the second half of 2008, 167 pangolins were seized in four enforcement cases in Muar, indicating that the coastline was a thriving entry point for the anteaters from Indonesia. It is believed that the pangolins were destined for the restaurant and traditional medicine trade, as well as the mainland Chinese market.

Early this year, genetic fingerprinting of seized tiger parts in southern Thailand shows that the Malaya tiger, endemic to Malaysia and numbering only 500 in the wild, have been blatantly poached and smuggled through our land borders.

These are some of the cases that point to illegal trafficking of wildlife and its parts, and to Malaysia being a transit point, a source country, as well as a consumer hub for endangered wildlife.

Globally, Interpol estimated the illegal trade to be worth US$10bil (RM35bil) to US$20bil (RM70bil) a year. Conservation groups like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have declared wildlife trade the second biggest direct threat to species survival, after habitat destruction.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) did not respond to requests for the value of animals confiscated last year, but a conservative estimate based on media reports shows that at least RM5mil worth of wildlife was seized in Malaysia last year.

Wildlife trafficking is a trade so lucrative that it is said to rank second after drug trafficking, especially when there is no death penalty to fear in most countries.

Take the pangolin, for instance. According to wildlife trade researchers the creature’s scales and meat are sought after for its purported properties to alleviate rheumatic pains. And as an aphrodisiac too of course, as any purveyor of exotic meat would sell you the idea. That is why pangolins can fetch as much as RM150 per kg or RM500 per animal in the black market.

Traffic, a wildlife trade-monitoring network, fears that the illegal trade in pangolins is already out of control with large shipments of animals being smuggled across numerous international borders, often by the lorry load, to their final destination in China.

It says that shipments busted by Perhilitan are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What slips through the net are far more than one can estimate, in the millions of ringgit over the years.
The rampant smuggling of pangolins has forced Perhilitan to acknowledge that Malaysia has become both an attractive supply and transit country.

Its deputy enforcement director Celescoriano Razond said he feared that international syndicates had turned the country into their main source – not just for pangolin but other wildlife species too.

There have been numerous confiscations of Indian star tortoises at the KLIA with arrests of Indian and Malaysian nationals, yet the smugglers are undeterred. The shipments still come in and the authorities have no other choice but to maintain constant vigilance.

Until recently, the Indian star tortoise from the Indian sub-continent that was banned from export was easily available in local pet shops. The palm-sized exotic pet with star-like markings on its shell was sold at between RM100 and RM150 per creature.

In cases where the illegal shipments of Indian star tortoises were foiled, the authorities have found suitcases packed with the animal, some up to 2,000 pieces in one suitcase.

Perhilitan returns seized consignments to the country of origin but the syndicates involved remain at large.

Existing laws and inadequate manpower remain the biggest setbacks in tackling this scourge. The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 offers no protection for any turtle or tortoise species. A revised law, scheduled to be tabled in Parliament this year, is supposed to plug this particular loophole. However, a check on the draft bill showed that this reptile family is still being left out.

Azrina Abdullah, the immediate ex-director of Traffic, lamented the low fines and reluctance of the courts to put the culprits behind bars. In 2006, conservationists were appalled that a RM7,000 fine (maximum fine is RM15,000) was slapped on a poacher from Tumpat, in Kelantan, for possessing a chopped up tiger in his fridge, instead of the maximum five-year imprisonment. The black market value of a tiger is reported to be US$50,000 (RM180,000).

Currently, fines range from RM1,000 to RM15,000 and imprisonment from a minimum of one year to 10 years. The authorities have indicated a 100% increase in fines and a maximum jail term of 12 years in the pending new law.

Among the issues that need to be addressed is the issuance of special permits by Perhilitan to theme parks, private zoos and individuals for keeping an animal. There is fear that permits given would provide the holders a cover to launder illegal specimens.

At the regional level, a lack of law enforcement and poor investigation are obstacles to efforts in stemming this exploitation of biodiversity of a country and its neighbours.

Recognising that no country can fight this scourge on its own, governments in the region formed in 2005 a regional anti-wildlife trafficking network aimed at sharing intelligence and improving regional enforcement collaboration.

The 10-member Asean – Wildlife Enforce­ment Network (Asean-WEN) is the world’s largest entity of its kind. Despite the heightened awareness among law enforcers and seemingly higher number of seizures, it remains unclear if the network has managed to cripple the syndicates or apprehend the masterminds behind this hideous crime against nature.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Outlaw open burning on peat land, Sarawak urged

August 9, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak should outlaw open burning on peat areas as they contribute to fires and the haze.

Environmental advisor to the Sarawak Government Dr James Dawos Mamit said he would advise the Natural Resource and Environment Board to review its current practice of issuing permits to plantations on peat land to use burning in their operations.

On Thursday, satellite images showed a high number of hotspots in Sarawak with a significant numbers in Sibu, Mukah and Miri divisions.

The haze map released by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre in Singapore showed the area around Sibu and Mukah shrouded in thick haze. The map also showed many hotspots in that area.

While open burning is banned in other parts of Malaysia, plantation operators in Sarawak can apply for an open burning permit under Section 30(1)(a) and (2) of the Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance.

In the application form, the applicant is asked to state whether the land is mineral or peat soil.

“It is a known fact now that it is detrimental to use fire on peat land as it is very difficult to put out.

“They should look at it objectively,” said Dr Dawos in reference to certain quarters in Sarawak that had dismissed environmentalists’ criticisms of oil palm development on peat land.

Dr Dawos is also the president of the newly-formed Malaysian Peat Society.

Peat expert Faizal Parish of the Global Environment Centre urged plantation companies to avoid peat soil as 95% of peat land in Sarawak are deep peat (more than 3m deep).

“Plantation should only be allowed on degraded areas.

“The state government should reconsider permitting open burning on peat land,” he said.


August 9, 2009
1,000ha ablaze in Sarawak

MIRI: Wildfires are raging in more than 1,000ha of forests and peat land near the Sarawak-Brunei border, resulting in a heavy concentration of thick smoke and ash which is choking the people living in the Kuala Baram area.

According to the Miri Fire and Rescue Department and local politicians, some 3,000ha have been burnt.

Miri Division Fire Chief Christian Olas said the fires were most intense near the bridge linking Sarawak to Brunei.

“More than 1,000ha in Kuala Baram district are still on fire.

“We have doused many fires over the past few days but they keep spreading due to the strong wind. New fires keep on appearing.

“Our firefighters are already on 24-hour duty. We only have 37 firefighters on the ground because we are short of manpower,” said Olas.

Checks by The Star Saturday showed that the area was choked with thick smoke and burnt smell.

Visibility was still at dangerously-low levels, with some stretches of the Pan-Borneo Highway blanketed with smoke.

At some stretches, visibility was between 100m to 200m. The thick haze has also blotted out the sun.

State authorities have called for more measures to contain the fires.

Assistant state Infrastructure Development and Communication minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the fires in his Senadin constituency, which is located in the Kuala Baram district, had burned more than 3,000ha of land.

“The fire department will build a watchtower to detect the fires swiftly and to enable better and more effective enforcement against open-burning activities,” he said.

The Air Pollution Index (API) in four locations in Sarawak - Bintulu, Miri, Samarahan and Sibu - were in unhealthy levels, with Sibu having a high API reading.

Kapit, Limbang and Sarikei had moderate air quality readings. There were no readings for Kuching.

The other three locations with unhealthy air quality were Bukit Rambai (in Malacca) and Muar.