Malaysia: Help with probe on consumption of turtle eggs, leaders urged

The Star 29 Jan 16;

KOTA KINABALU: All those questioned by authorities in connection with the investigation into consumption of turtle eggs have been urged to give their full cooperation, including ministers.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said everyone, including ministers and local leaders, were not above the law and should give their cooperation.

This issue caught the public’s attention after photographs of eggs served at a restaurant during a function went viral on social media last November.

Photographs showed Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Beluran Umno chief Datuk James Ratib seated at a table with a plate of turtle eggs, some already consumed, in front of them.

Masidi said coming forward to give a statement was not a sign of guilt.

“Don’t worry, just come forward and assist the Wildlife Department so that they can solve this case as soon as possible,” he said after launching Sabah’s newest radio station – KupiKupiFM – here yesterday.

Masidi was commenting on a recent news report alleging that ministers involved in the case were not cooperating with investigators.

“The authorities just want to get as many witnesses and information as possible so they can zero in on the culprits and solve this case,” he said, adding that there was no reason for anyone to delay giving their statements.

Fourteen in Sabah questioned over turtle egg dish so far
RUBEN SARIO The Star 2 Feb 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Fourteen people have been questioned so far over a dinner attended by a federal minister in Sandakan last year where turtle eggs were served.

State Wildlife Department director William Baya said they wanted to record the statement of Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob, but only after meeting local leaders who were at the dinner last November.

"We have yet to issue any letter or contact the minister to get his statement because of logistical issues since he is in Kuala Lumpur," William said.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Ismail was not a target of the investigation, but they wanted to record his statement.

The department launched a probe after photographs were posted on social media showing Ismail at an Umno division dinner at a seafood restaurant together with Beluran Umno chief Datuk James Ratib.

A plate of what appeared to be at least two dozen turtle eggs were seen on the table before them.

Turtles are protected under the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997.

It is an offence to be in possession of the animals or their products, such as eggs, and those convicted are liable to a fine of RM50,000, five years' imprisonment or both.

The photographs, which went viral on social media, sparked an outcry among conservationists here.

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