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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Catamaran owner, two others charged with negligence

KOTA KINABALU - The owner of the catamaran that capsized, killing four Chinese tourists, has been charged with negligence not amounting to culpable homicide in the Sessions Court here.

It is among the charges slapped on the vessel owner, her son and skipper in the wake of the Chinese New Year tragedy in which five people remain missing and 22 survived.

Chung Ket Siew @ Chung Siaw Ping, 64, the director of Golden Sailing Travel Tour and Car Rental, is accused of allowing her son Leong Vin Jee, the company operations director, to use the vessel in such a way as to endanger human life.

She was thus accused of causing the death of Chinese nationals He Runyuan, 46, Wang Jianye, 38, Xie Luo,49, and Zhang Xiau Kun, 27, on Jan 28.

Chung, 44, was charged under Section 304A of the Penal Code when produced before Sessions judge Noor Hafizah Mohd Salim on Thursday.

She is also charged under Section 337 of the same code for allowing Leong to use the boat negligently to endanger human life.

Chung is also accused of failing to report to Sabah Ports and the Harbour Department of a change in the boat skipper from Leong to Sharezza Salian.

Under the charges proffered by DPP Robert Pasang Alam, Chung and her son are also accused of breaching Regulation 9 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) Regulations 2008 for failing to keep the boat licence on the vessel.

Like his mother, Leong is also charged with negligence not amounting to culpable homicide under Section 304A of the Penal Code over the deaths of the four China nationals.

He is also charged under Section 337 for allowing Sharezza to operate the boat negligently and endanger the safety of others.

Leong and Sharezza were also jointly charged under Regulation 13 of the Ports and Harbours (Ports, Harbour and Dues) Regulations 2008 for using a non-designated landing point at Kampung Tanjung Aru Lama for loading and disembarking passengers.

Both men are also accused of failing to have adequate safety equipment on board the catamaran on the same date.

Sharezza, 26, is also charged under Section 337 of the Penal Code for operating the boat negligently, leading to the death of the four Chinese tourists.

He faces a similar charge for injuring 20 Chinese nationals who survived the mishap.

All three claimed trial to the charges.

The court allowed Chung and Leong to be freed on bail of between RM3,000 and RM5,000 for each charge.

Sharezza was however brought back to prison as he was jailed for six months by a magistrate’s court for a prior conviction.

The Sessions Court also fixed June 6 to 16 for trial.

On March 14, the magistrate’s court here ordered Leong’s case to be transferred to the Sessions Court that had been designated as a Tourism Court.

On Feb 5, Leong, 44, pleaded not guilty to overloading the catamaran with tourists at 9.15am on Jan 28 after being charged under Section 282 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code.

He had allegedly allowed the catamaran, which could only seat 12 passengers, to leave the jetty at Tanjung Aru Lama with 28, passengers, thus risking the lives of the Chinese tourists on board.

Sharezza, who was charged under the same section with Leong, pleaded guilty and was jailed for six months by the Sessions Court.

Guide Aman Abdul, 38, who was arrested together with Sharezza on Jan 29, will be a witness in the case.

Both Sharezza and Aman were on board the catamaran when it sank. They were the first two to be rescued.

Four Chinese tourists were killed while five others - four Chinese nationals and a local crewman - remain missing.

By Ruben Sario

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