Malaysian ‘Lizard King’ back in business: Report

Updated 29 January 2014
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Malaysian ‘Lizard King’ back in business: Report

A notorious Malaysian wildlife trafficker dubbed the “Lizard King” for his smuggling of endangered reptiles is back in business despite a 2010 conviction for illegally trafficking endangered species, according to an investigative report by Al Jazeera.
Anson Wong was arrested in August 2010 at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport while attempting to smuggle 95 endangered boa constrictors to Indonesia.
He was sentenced to five years in jail but a Malaysian appeals court sparked an outcry when it freed him in 2012.
Malaysian authorities had said in the wake of Wong’s arrest that his licences for legitimate wildlife trading were revoked.
But the Al Jazeera report, whose reporter Steve Chao went undercover to talk with wildlife dealers and associates of Wong’s, said Wong and his wife Cheah Bing Shee were believed to be trading albino pythons and other wildlife from their base in the northern Malaysian state of Penang.
Trade in the pythons requires a permit, said the report by the Qatar-based network aired late Thursday. It said documents also revealed shell companies used by Wong to hide his activities.
Illegal trade in wildlife is thought to be worth at least $19 billion a year worldwide, according to conservation groups.
In Penang, Chao confronted Wong, who declined to comment. Several of Wong’s former associates also claimed that corrupt customs officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and Madagascar were helping to facilitate Wong’s activities, the report said.
In a press release, Al Jazeera said Chao and his team worked with anti-trafficking groups to track Wong’s Malaysian-based operation.
Kadir Hashim, enforcement director of Malaysia’s wildlife department, confirmed Wong’s permits remained revoked.
“The department is investigating both,” Wong and Cheah, he said in an e-mail response to an AFP inquiry, without elaborating further. Wong is described by wildlife groups as one of the world’s most active smugglers of wild animals.
He was sentenced to 71 months in jail in the United States in 2001 after pleading guilty to trafficking in endangered reptiles.


Han Solo’s ‘Return of the Jedi’ blaster sells for $550,000

Updated 24 June 2018
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Han Solo’s ‘Return of the Jedi’ blaster sells for $550,000

  • The faux weapon, mainly made of wood, had been put on display in New York by Julien’s Auctions last month after more than 30 years tucked away in the belongings of James Schoppe, art director of “Return of the Jedi”
  • Martin Nolan, the auction house’s executive director, said Schoppe, an Oscar nominee for his work on the film, finally decided to part with Solo’s gun and about 40 other items from the movie, including an Ewok axe and plans for Jabba the Hutt’s ship

WASHINGTON: In the wildly popular “Star Wars” films, Han Solo once told a lightsaber-wielding Luke Skywalker: “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
That was the case when one of the blaster pistol props used by Harrison Ford in “Return of the Jedi” (1983) went under the hammer, selling for $550,000 — topping the $450,000 previously fetched by Skywalker’s lightsaber from the first two films.
“SOLD for $550,000! An original Han Solo blaster used in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi!” Julien’s Auctions announced on Twitter Saturday.
The faux weapon, mainly made of wood, had been put on display in New York by Julien’s Auctions last month after more than 30 years tucked away in the belongings of James Schoppe, art director of “Return of the Jedi.”
Martin Nolan, the auction house’s executive director, said Schoppe, an Oscar nominee for his work on the film, finally decided to part with Solo’s gun and about 40 other items from the movie, including an Ewok axe and plans for Jabba the Hutt’s ship.
The Ewok axe went for $11,250, while another blaster prop from the film fetched $90,624, according to Julien’s Auctions.
But none of the props were a match for the space saga’s much-loved droid: last year, an R2-D2 used in the making of several “Star Wars” films sold for $2.76 million at auction in Los Angeles.