14 in Sabah questioned over turtle egg dish

The plate of eggs served at the dinner.

KOTA KINABALU: Fourteen people have been questioned so far over a dinner attended by a federal minister in Sandakan last year where turtle eggs were served.

State Wildlife Department director William Baya said they wanted to record the statement of Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob, but only after meeting local leaders who were at the dinner last November.

"We have yet to issue any letter or contact the minister to get his statement because of logistical issues since he is in Kuala Lumpur," William said.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Ismail was not a target of the investigation, but they wanted to record his statement.

The department launched a probe after photographs were posted on social media showing Ismail at an Umno division dinner at a seafood restaurant together with Beluran Umno chief Datuk James Ratib.

A plate of what appeared to be at least two dozen turtle eggs were seen on the table before them.

Turtles are protected under the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997.

It is an offence to be in possession of the animals or their products, such as eggs, and those convicted are liable to a fine of RM50,000, five years' imprisonment or both.

The photographs, which went viral on social media, sparked an outcry among conservationists here.