KOTA KINABALU, Feb 2, 2016:

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun agreed with Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob when the latter said he never refused in assisting in the investigation of the turtle egg fiasco.

In fact, Masidi stressed that the Rural and Regional Minister was never a target of investigation, although his part of the story would help wrap up the on-going investigation.

“Nobody said Ismail Sabri refused to make a statement. A newspaper (Sabah’s Daily Express) may have said it, not the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).

“Plus the department said that the issue of Ismail Sabri doesn’t arise,” he said when met at the launching of the MCAW Holidays Sdn Bhd new office at Metro Town, near here, today.

Masidi, had in previous reports, absolved Ismail Sabri from blame, saying that he was only a guest at the event.

Ismail Sabri, who was on a working visit here yesterday, noted that he would never run away from giving statement on the turtle egg fiasco allegedly took place in Sandakan last year, but was never contacted by SWD to share his side of the story.

Last Sunday, the Daily Express reported that Umno Beluran division chief Datuk James Ratib has responded to SWD but Ismail Sabri and Kuala Penyu assemblyman Limus Jury have yet to give their account.

Jury had admitted to being at the dinner but said he “was not directly involved”.

Ismail Sabri has regarded the news report as defaming and that his lawyers were “preparing the papers to sue the newpaper.”

In November, several photos were posted on the Walai Penyu Resort Libaran Facebook page showing Ismail Sabri and Ratib among others seated at a restaurant with turtle eggs and lobsters placed on the “Lazy Susan” in front of them.

The photo was believed to have been taken during the Beluran Umno division meeting dinner in August at Restoran Indah Keranamu, in Sandakan, but Ismail Sabri denied consuming the eggs due to his high cholesterol level.

It is illegal to consume or be in possession of turtle eggs in Sabah.

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, and those who fail to oblige can be fined RM50,000 or jailed five years, or both, upon conviction.

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