Chow and Ang Explain

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 14th, 2006

Singapore Straits Times
Aug 13, 2006
Bigfoot hoax exposed
First, a website claimed to have photographs of the elusive Johor Bigfoot. Then, when the photos were exposed as a hoax, the site was quickly shut down. The Malaysian men behind it explain how things went wrong

By Sandra Leong

FOR a brief, heady two months, it seemed like King Kong may not have been a figment of Hollywood’s imagination after all.

That is, if news coming out of Johor, Malaysia, were to be believed.

In mid-June, the people behind Malaysian website Johor Hominid (www.johorhominid.org) claimed that they had laid their hands on supposedly convincing photographs of the Johor Bigfoot.

The Johor Bigfoot is the Malaysian incarnation of that elusive, tall, hairy man-like creature that is also known in other parts of the world as the Yeti or Sasquatch.

The site’s claims followed Bigfoot mania that erupted last December when workers at a fish farm reported spotting a family of giant, two-legged creatures near the Endau-Rompin National Park, a three-hour drive from the Causeway.

The website, naturally enough, dubbed the beast the Johor Hominid.

Soon after, the site owners – self-described Malaysian Bigfoot hunters Sean Ang and Vincent Chow – also started an online petition.

In it, they breathlessly cited the ‘recent discovery of a dozen of close-up photographs of living Hominids in Johor’, and called on no less than the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to help with the creature’s preservation.

The frenzy grew, even spawning a government- led Bigfoot research steering committee. A fascinated public flocked to the website and it got 16,000 hits in two days.

Things really exploded when the website claimed it had pictorial proof of Bigfoot’s existence.

Researchers the world over flew into a tizzy. They demanded that the photos be released for independent inspection.

But over the ensuing weeks, the site merely teased its enthralled audience, releasing only hand-drawn sketches of the alleged Bigfoot’s eyes and hands.

Johor Hominid Eyes

The site maintained that the actual photos belonged to two men from the Johor Wildlife Protection Association (JWPA), who would reveal the pictures only at an opportune time.

Some online sites linked to Johor Hominid even went so far as to say the photos had been taken by the JWPA from a treetop observation deck that they had built.

But there was no Hollywood feel-good ending. Far from discovering Bigfoot, Mr Ang and Mr Chow were simply branded big fools when, on Aug 4, the pictures were exposed as a hoax.

That came about when they published a cropped photograph of the alleged Bigfoot’s eyes on their website, and offered an RM1,200 (S$515) reward, a hotel stay and a guided rainforest tour to anyone who could prove it was a hoax.

Johor Hominid Eyes

It was an offer made to appeal to ‘cryptozoologists’, who study mythical creatures with the presumption that they do exist.

By 6pm the same day, French hominologist Jean Luc Drevillon unmasked the photos as fakes.

In an e-mail to the Johor Hominid website, he pointed out that the photos were in fact from a 2003 French book, L’Odyssee de l’espece (A Species Odyssey), which was made into a documentary of the same name the same year.

To support his claim, he attached a full copy of the picture which he had scanned from the book.

Johor Hominid Photo

In an e-mail interview with LifeStyle last week, Mr Drevillon said he recognised the Bigfoot’s eyes from ‘seeing the documentary and book many times’. He also sent his discovery to Cryptomundo (cryptomundo.com), a reputable cryptozoology website, which then broadcast the news.

An hour after the photos were discredited, the Johor Hominid website shut down. A message on the now-defunct site reads: ‘Down but not out, the search continues… Given that the current evidence for the existence of a hominid is weaker, we are currently closing down this site temporarily… Vincent Chow will focus more on the fieldwork and exploration.’

‘What a disgrace’

SO THE big Bigfoot question is, why did Mr Ang and Mr Chow post fake pictures on the site?

After all, doing so casts doubt on their other pieces of ‘evidence’, such as supposed Bigfoot footprints and hair said to have been collected by researchers on their expeditions.

Said one irate Cryptomundo user named crypto-randz: ‘This makes me sick… Everyone involved in this hoax should be held accountable including Chow… What a disgrace.’

Similarly, Mr Loren Coleman, an American cryptozoologist and editor of Cryptomundo, said via e-mail that he began to doubt the authenticity of the photos ‘as soon as all efforts to have the photographs shown to primate and cryptozoological experts were denied’.

Asked if he thought the Malaysian researchers had orchestrated a publicity stunt, he said: ‘The word ‘orchestrated’ is too harsh. But certainly, something sinister appears to be afoot, and we need to patiently discover who was behind this fakery.’

‘No ulterior motive’

SPEAKING over the phone to LifeStyle last week, both Mr Ang and Mr Chow said that they had acquired the photos from the JWPA and could not answer queries on how the photos had come about.

Mr Chow, 60, a semi-retired horticultural consultant and member of the Malaysia Nature Society, is widely seen as the leader of Bigfoot hunting efforts in Johor. He said the sole intention behind setting up the website was to ‘find out the truth’. He revealed: ‘We, too, had our own reservations as to where the photos came from because it is very difficult to capture the Bigfoot on film. We stated that very clearly from the beginning, but people have short memories.’

The RM1,200 and hotel stay which he offered for the reward were to have been paid out of his own pocket, he added. ‘There is no ulterior motive. Why would I want to waste time and effort if I didn’t believe in the cause?’

In fact, he added, he was ‘happy’ that the truth had been outed so he would no longer have to ‘misdirect my energies’. ‘Our passion is genuine, but society interprets you differently. They like to criticise and throw cold water at us. To me, this is all very petty and the issue is closed.’

He appeared to pin the blame on the JWPA, saying: ‘I do not want to waste time on that group anymore.’

Mr Ang, 36, an IT specialist with an interest in the science of paleoanthropology, which studies Ancient Man, said he would be more careful with photos from the JWPA in future. ‘The next time, I want the negatives and a photograph of the photographer to verify authenticity.’

The fate of the Johor Hominid site is still in limbo. It is not permanently closed, said Mr Ang. ‘This is just one piece of evidence that has been debunked. We’ll be back when we have more evidence.’

Mr Kenny Fong, founder of paranormal research group Singapore Paranormal Investigators, puts the Bigfoot blunder down to ‘a case of over-enthusiasm’.

‘Obviously, someone made a mistake and jeopardised everything. But I believe it’s not Vincent, as he would not be so stupid as to knowingly use fake pictures and talk so loud about it.’

Not for the money

THAT left one more avenue to be explored – the usually low-profile JWPA, a 40-member body which was founded last year to look into the protection of endangered animals.

LifeStyle went to Johor last Wednesday to meet the association’s secretary, Mr Tay Teng Hwa, 64, and another member, Mr Wee Pao Chin, 60.

Mr Tay, a consultant, said that the JWPA got the photographs of the Johor Bigfoot in April from a member named Michael Yap.

The two men showed LifeStyle two colour photo- copied pictures of the animal they received, the same ones later exposed by the French researcher as having been taken from the book.

Asked where Mr Yap had got the pictures from, Mr Tay said he never asked. Mr Wee, a watch technician, said: ‘We are not professionals in the area so we have no reason to question where the photos came from.’

When asked to contact Mr Yap for this story, Mr Tay said he did not have his e-mail address or phone number.

The JWPA said there was no incentive for it to lie about the photos. ‘We are not in it for the money,’ said Mr Tay, adding: ‘A Korean newspaper wanted to buy the photos of the footprints for RM1.5 million and we turned them down.’

Meanwhile, the search for the real Bigfoot continues…

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.


14 Responses to “Chow and Ang Explain”

  1. scmarlowe responds:

    Everyone keeps saying that the photos given to Chow and Ang were copied from a book.

    Anyone familiar with an offset press would know that there is a characteristic moire pattern that results from printing images from a printing plate.

    Why didn’t Chow and Ang bother to examine the “photographs” with a magnifying glass or a stereoscopic microscope to check for this tell-tale sign of trickery before whipping the public into a frenzy?

  2. twblack responds:

    I did not mean to read this. But since I did I am sorry I did. They wasted so much over this hoax. And I do not really care.

    Well if not in it for the money On a book then they should have released the pics in the first place. They said a person owned the photos now they say a group owned them. They got and are getting what they deserved from the whole thing at least in my opinion.

    Mr. Chow said he is happy the whole thing has been outed. Good ANSWER for damage control. If you would have shown the photos in the first place you would not be in the situation you are now in. And that is your career is over along with Mr. Ang no one will ever believe you 2 again on anything.

  3. crypto_randz responds:

    Nicely put twblack, it was a hoax and we all fell for it and we were all excited that maybe the photos were going to prove the exsitence of the human ape like creatures but the whole thing crumbled to the ground.

  4. sasquatch responds:

    Good luck!

  5. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    yawn

  6. Chicago Dan responds:

    How many times will the buck be passed here.

    First Chow and Ang deny any deception on their part and blame JWPA.

    JWPA initially denies they released any photos. Now they pass the buck to a Michael Yap who they cannot contact.

    Mmmmm….bet we never hear or see any trace of the real source of this episode. Unless lawyers become involved then maybe who, what, when will come out, but I doubt it.

    What an ugly stain on Cryptozoology.

  7. bambookid responds:

    ‘…We, too, had our own reservations as to where the photos came from because it is very difficult to capture the Bigfoot on film. We stated that very clearly from the beginning, but people have short memories…’

    I think the ones with short memories are Chow & Ang. “The most earth shattering discovery…” doesn’t come across as skeptical.

    In my opinion… their credibility = 0

    Every time I see one of their names, my first reaction is to ‘turn the page’… but I always seem to want to take a peek inside the sideshow tent, just like a curious little boy at the fair.

    “When will the fair leave town, daddy? Soon, my son… soon.”

  8. Mr Tito responds:

    All suspicions were correct.

  9. David V responds:

    Well, I never fell for it, this whole thing stunk from day one. Unfortunately my BS detector is finely tuned due to all the hucksters and snake-oil salesmen that are in this world, chow and ang among them. I’ve found that liberal skepticism is a good guard against the inevitable tomfoolery of all the hoaxers out there. Well, heres to hoping that we get some REAL evidence soon!

  10. mrdark responds:

    I think this is all starting to sound like one hoaxer jumping into the midst of a group of very enthusiastic and -untrained- individuals who haven’t been exposed to the decades of fakery we in the US have seen. Let’s face it: other than imported US stories, how many hoaxes have we had from that nation? No prominent ones, to my memory.

    I’m no longer convinced anyone was ‘in on’ the fraud other than the initial source. Everyone else’s sin was incompetence, not malice, I think.

  11. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    David V I agree 100%

  12. Mnynames responds:

    There is a phrase I heard so long ago that I cannot recall the source that I find quite apt here-

    “Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.”

    Words to live by, if you ask me…

  13. Dark-Obsessor responds:

    Very nice 🙂

  14. Mausinn responds:

    It is easy to see how these guys could have been fooled by the photos. The moire effect is only present if the screened print is reproduced using the same halftone process again. The use of two screens is what produces the moire effect. It can be reduced by rotating the screen before shooting the second print, but it would not show up if the original was simply scanned and printed, which this obviously was. Given the usually poor pixalization ratio of most computer screens and most printers, I doubt that a significant dot pattern would show up at all. It would simply look like a photo. Most newspapers use about a 125 to 175 line screen and most glossy high quality magazines and books use screens in the 250+ range.




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