KOTA KINABALU, Nov 19 ― Additional photographs showing close-ups of Umno leaders at a recent dinner that featured turtle eggs have provided new impetus for the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) investigating the controversy.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the department was wrapping up its investigations, but will now use the new photos which show fragments of turtle eggshells on the table in front of some of the diners ― indicating they had consumed the wholly protected creatures ― to expand the scope of their probe.
“The photos are new to me. I will forward them to the director of SWD to act upon based on the available evidence.
“They are just wrapping up the investigation of the case. The new photos widen the scope of their investigation,” Masidi told Malay Mail Online last night when contacted.
Four photos were posted on the Walai Penyu Resort Libaran Facebook page late yesterday evening by an Internet user who goes by the moniker “Deadturtles Sabah”.
The pictures show what looked to be bits of turtle eggshells on the table directly in front of Rural and Regional Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Umno Beluran division chief Datuk James Ratib and Beluran district officer Suhaili Riman.
On November 4, a photograph emerged on social media showing Ismail Sabri, James and Sandakan municipal council deputy president Mohd Hamsan Awang Supain among five other men seated at a restaurant with turtle eggs and lobsters placed on the “Lazy Susan” in front of them.
The photo was believed to be taken during the Umno Beluran division meeting dinner in August at Restoran Indah Keranamu, in Sandakan.
Ismail Sabri has denied eating the turtle eggs on doctor’s orders due to his high cholesterol level.
SWD director William Baya had promised to investigate the case to get the bottom of how the prohibited eggs ended up at the restaurant but investigations proved to be inconclusive.
Masidi had said that the eggs may have been brought to the restaurant from an outsider.
Turtles and its products are a totally protected species under Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment and Section 41 of enactment states it is an offence to possess these animals or its products.
Offenders can be fined RM50,000 or jailed five years, or both, upon conviction.