Putrajaya appears to be protecting international wildlife smuggler Anson Wong and his wife by giving them permits to operate their business in Penang, said two opposition lawmakers today.
The lawmakers pointed out that despite Putrajaya's assertions that all permits to Wong and his wife Cheah Bing Shee, under the company CBS Wildlife, have been cancelled, utility bills for another company, Rona Wildlife, in Jalan Tanjung Tokong, showed otherwise.
Following an expose on television network Al-Jazeera last month about the thriving wildlife smuggling trade in Malaysia by the notorious smuggler, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry had issued a statement that all permits to Wong's wife, Cheah Bing Shee, had been cancelled.
"However, here we have utility bills under the name of Cheah Bing Shee with the same address as Rona Wildlife in Jalan Tanjung Tokong," said Padang Serai MP and animal activist N. Surendran.
"And how is it that the Al Jazeera producer can go to the office and find out from a worker there that his boss is Anson Wong and the authorities claim not to know that?"
Surendran said the ministry had been lying to the Malaysian public in allowing Wong to continue his notorious trading of wildlife.
"Why are Anson and his wife above the law? The buck stops with the minister. Clearly there is corruption when the entire top leadership of Perhilitan is incapable of stemming wildlife trafficking by Wong and his wife," added Surendran, referring to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming (pic, right) also lashed out at the authorities for not using their enforcement powers to raid Wong's base in Teluk Bahang when the Al-Jazeera documentary last month had exposed that there were endangered species on the premises.
Wong gained notoriety in 1998 when he was arrested by agents from the United States after they lured him to Mexico in a highly elaborate five-year investigation that became a best-selling book, the Lizard King. He was sentenced to 71 months in prison in the United States in 2001 after pleading guilty to trafficking in endangered reptiles.
Following his release and return to Malaysia, fears that he continued to be involved in smuggling were confirmed in 2010 when his bag broke while waiting for his flight to Jakarta, revealing some boa constrictors.
After serving just 17 months of a five year jail sentence, Wong was freed by the Court of Appeal, a decision which outraged campaign groups.
Surendran called for the minister to explain what action had been taken to interrogate Wong and his wife following the revelations in the Al-Jazeera documentary.
"We have been labelled as the hub for wildlife smuggling, and this trade is the second biggest after drug trafficking. There must be public pressure on the authorities to put a stop to this,"he said.
He then challenged Wong to "come look for him if he wanted his utility bills back", while waving the two original utility bills under Cheah's name. - December 4, 2013.