KOTA KINABALU, Nov 5, 2015:

When it comes to conservation, there must not be any exception to choosing menus, regardless of social status.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the turtle eggs fiasco, served at the VIP table during a welcoming dinner in Sandakan, shows that more education is needed to get the message through on the importance of preserving the environment and wildlife.

“To me. it shows more education is needed to get the message across. Obviously people are not taking it seriously. Or if they do, in this particular case they seem to be making an exception in this case.

“There is no exceptions — it applies to everyone regardless of social status,” Masidi warned.

He added that everyone is trying their best to conserve the environment, but when people of high standing do otherwise, it conveys wrong message to ordinary people.

“We are suppose to lead by example and in this particular case, we may have failed.”

Commenting on the photos of the turtle eggs which has angered many conservationist groups, he said Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob should not be blamed for the turtle eggs fiasco.

“We should pose the question to the host. I can’t blame the federal minister, he is the guest. The hosts are local, they should know better. They are from Sandakan, anyway,” he said.

To date, the state minister said he will wait for a report on the investigation.

A photograph has been circulating on social media yesterday showing Ismail Sabri as well as Beluran Umno division chief Datuk James Ratib and Sandakan municipal council deputy president Mohd Hamsan Awang Supain among five other men seated at a restaurant with turtle eggs and lobsters placed in front of them.

The photo, allegedly taken during the Beluran Umno division meeting dinner in August at Restoran Indah Keranamu in Sandakan, was first posted by Internet user “Dead Turtles Sabah” on the Walai Penyu Resort Libaran Facebook page.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya had released a statement yesterday saying his officers will be questioning the operators of the seafood restaurant as well as the event organisers to find out how turtle eggs made it on the restaurant menu.

Turtles are a totally protected species under Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 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.

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