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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4, 2015:

The turtle eggs allegedly served during a Beluran Umno dinner were never consumed by Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Speaking to The Rakyat Post tonight, Ismail said that he had only eaten other dishes, including fish, which were served following his arrival there in August to officiate the division meeting held in Sandakan.

“As the previous Agricultural and Agro-based Minister, I had initiated the ‘Say No to Shark Fin’ campaign, which was promoted to fishermen under the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM).

“So how could I possibly advocate species conservation while I am being accused of doing the opposite?”

The Bera MP also said that he had ignored the dishes containing the eggs as he did not prefer to consume them.

“I am looking at taking care of my health, especially my cholesterol levels.”

Ismail’s response came after several photos showing turtle eggs being served to him during a welcoming dinner “Indah Keranamu”, hosted by the Beluran division chief Datuk James Ratib, for officiating the party’s delegates’ meeting in Sandakan in August this year went viral today.

Following the photos, spread by the Danau Girang Field Centre, the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) will be questioning a restaurant owner in Sandakan for allegedly putting turtle eggs on its menu.

Its director, William Baya, said two SWD officers had been tasked to carry out the investigations as well as seek the Sandakan Municipal Council’s assistance to get to the bottom of the incident.

“We hope to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible as we are making this case our utmost priority,” said Baya in a statement today.

Green and Hawksbill turtles are listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

According to Section 41 of this Enactment, it is an offence to possess these animals or products (eggs) of these species.

Baya added that consuming turtle eggs was also an offence punishable under Section 41

“If they are caught, offenders can be fined RM50,000 or jailed five years, or both, upon conviction,” Baya explained.

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