I wanted to make my customer happy, says Wong

Posted on September 7, 2010. Filed under: Laws and Regulations |

-The Star- SEPANG: Convicted international wildlife trafficker Anson Wong admitted that he exported 95 snakes without a permit because his customer was “pushing” him to deliver the reptiles before Hari Raya.

A composed Wong, 52, who was later jailed six months and fined RM190,000, told the Sessions Court here yesterday he wanted to please his customer, who insisted that he exported the boa constrictors.

“It was (done) in my haste to make my customer happy,” said the businessman when judge Zulhelmy Hasan asked him why he committed the offence.

When Zulhelmy told him that he should be held liable for his actions, Wong responded: “Ironically, the snakes are not an endangered species. They are not wild but are bred in captivity.”

The judge sentenced Wong, whose full name is Wong Keng Liang, to six months’ jail beginning yesterday.

Zulhelmy also ordered him to pay a RM2,000 fine for each of the 95 snakes, bringing the total fine to RM190,000, in default 12 months’ jail.

Peek-a-boo: A snake making its way out of the bag belonging to Wong at the KL International Airport on Aug 26.

The judge also denied the defence’s application to return Wong’s laptop computer and handphone, which the prosecution claimed contained information about suspected illegal activities.

In mitigation, defence counsel M. Sivam said his client was repentant and promised not to repeat his offence.

“The animals were not hurt when they were seized and there were no losses incurred by any party,” he said.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Ministry senior legal adviser Faridz Gohim Abdullah pointed out that the snakes were listed as an endangered species, adding that trafficking in the animals must be curbed to prevent extinction.

“Malaysia is known as a hub for smuggling animals because of people like the accused,” he said, adding that Wong’s offence had tainted the country’s image.

“We need to send a message to the accused and potential offenders that wildlife smuggling is not worth the risk,” Faridz said.

Last Wednesday, Wong, from Penang, pleaded guilty to exporting 95 boa constrictors without a permit at the KL International Airport at 8.50pm on Aug 26.

The snakes were found in a bag while Wong was in transit from Penang to Jakarta.

Wong was charged under Section 10(a) of the International Trade of Endangered Species Act.

Those convicted under this section faces a maximum RM100,000 fine for each animal listed under the Act, with the fine not exceeding RM1mil in aggregate, or imprisonment not exceeding seven years, or both.

It was reported in The Star that Wong was linked to a Dec 15 seizure in the United States of various types of animals from an exotic animal outlet. Two of the trader’s companies were found to have been supplying animals to the outlet.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) claimed that CBS Wildlife and Sungai Rusa Wildlife, both owned by Wong, were supplying various types of animals and wildlife.

Wong pleaded guilty to trafficking in wildlife in the United States in 2000 and was sentenced to 71 months’ jail.

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