Saturday, August 15, 2009

Someone had to take care of Wong's animals - The Star

Saturday August 15, 2009

Deputy D-G: Someone had to take care of Wong’s animals


KUALA LUMPUR: Special permits issued by Perhilitan to Anson Wong when he was in jail were actually renewals of existing permits that had been given to the convicted wildlife trafficker.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) deputy director-general Misliah Mohamad Bashir explained that the renewals were approved because “someone had to take care of (Wong’s) animals” while he served time in a US jail between 2001 and 2004.

The application for renewal of the permits to keep totally protected species was made by a local representative of Wong, said Misliah in response to calls by a group of animal rights activists and two MPs for an investigation into alleged corrupt practices within Perhilitan.

They filed reports with the the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday, urging the MACC to probe allegations of Perhilitan’s link with Wong made by author Bryan Christy in his book The Lizard King.

The book details Wong’s exploits in the 1990s prior to his arrest by the US wildlife authorities in 1998.

Misliah denied any involvement in the issuance of special permits to Wong, as such permits could only be issued by the Perhilitan director-general and she was state Perhilitan director in Penang at that time.

The complainants are animals rights groups Selangor Society for the Prevention of Cruetly against Animals, Malaysian Animal Welfare Society (MAW), Malaysian Animal Rights Society (ROAR) and Pet Positive. The MPs are S. Manikavasagam (Kapar) and M. Manogaran (Teluk Intan).

They also urged the Government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the matter.

Following Monday’s Starprobe exposé on Malaysia as a wildlife trafficking hub, the animal rights group said Perhilitan’s action in renewing Wong’s special permits was questionable.

Lawyer and ROAR president R. Surendran said Wong’s special permits covered among others two cougars which were later declared to have died.

“Did Misliah check whether those animals were dead? Or could they have been smuggled out?” he asked.

Misliah, when asked whether she had seen the carcasses, said she had relied on her staff to “check and report back to her.”

On Wong’s tigers, she said he had a special permit to keep two female tigers that he acquired from Japan and the cats had mated with tigers owned by Sunway Lagoon theme park in Selangor.

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