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All passengers had their own seat and no one was standing: Skipper
Published on: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
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All passengers had their own seat and no one was standing: Skipper
Kota Kinabalu: The court heard that the catamaran involved in the Pulau Mengalum tragedy could accommodate a total of 28 passengers.Skipper Sharezza Salian, 26, who testified before Sessions Court Judge Noorhafizah Mohd Salim, said all the passengers have their own seat and confirmed no one was standing.

He was on trial together with operator Leong Vin Jee, 44, his mother Chung Ket Siew @ Chung Siaw Ping, 64, whose name appears on the company licence.

The tragedy resulted in the death of four Chinese tourists with five more missing to date.

Sharreza said he was not sure whether 23 of the passengers were from Chau Nature and the rest under Mr Impression.

To a question from counsel Edward Paul, who defended Leong and his mother Chung, during cross examination, water entered the boat not because it was overloaded or the boat not in good condition.

According to Sharezza, he did know how the water entered the boat as they did not experience big waves throughout the journey.

Sharezza said before water entered the boat, they steered the boat smoothly.

He further testified that there was no sign that the boat could not move before water entered it.

Sharezza, Leong and Chung face several charges over the catamaran tragedy, last year.

On the first count, Chung the Director of Syarikat Golden Sailing Travel Tour and Car Rental and the registered owner of the boat, is accused of having Sharezza as the skipper without altering and reporting the particulars of a skipper named Leong Vin Jee in the Sabah Small Ship Licence to the nearest licensing authority – Sabah Ports and Harbours Department.

The offence under Regulations 13 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) 2008 and punishable under Regulations 21 of the same regulations which carries a jail term of up to two years, or a fine of up to RM500,000, or both, on conviction.

On second count, she was jointly charged with Leong for failing to keep the boat licence on the passenger boat at all times.

Meanwhile, Leong is accused of overloading the catamaran with tourists which endangered the passengers' lives while Sharezza had served the six months' jail sentence for a similar offence of overloading the catamaran with tourists.

Leong together with Sharezza were charged with causing hurt to 20 Chinese tourists by handling and using the boat to sea so negligently as to endanger their lives.

Their respective charges stated that Leong had ordered Sharezza to take the boat to the sea while Sharezza's charge is taking the boat to the sea negligently.

Leong and Sharezza also are accused of negligently caused the death of four tourists namely, He Runyuan, 46, Wang Jianyi, 38, Xie Luo, 49, and Zhang Xiau Kun, 27, by using the boat and so loaded it which endangered human life.

The duo is also accused of failing to keep on the passenger boat the appropriate safety equipment, to wit, the life jackets and the life buoys as specified in the Four Schedule of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licenced Small Ships) Regulations 2008, at all time.

Leong and Sharezza were also jointly charged with embarking two crews and 28 passengers not at a designated landing point - Kg Tanjung Aru Lama Jetty, here and that the offence under Regulation 13/34 of the Ports and Harbours.

All the offences allegedly took place at the Golden Sailing Travel Tour and Car Rental Sdn Bhd premises in Asia City, here, Kg Tanjung Aru Lama Jetty, Waters off the Coast of Mengalum Island, here between 9.15am and 11am on Jan 28, 2017.

During cross examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nartiah F. Mirchelle Sambatan, Sharezza disagreed that due to his negligence, it caused the boat to capsized which resulted in the tragedy.

He told the court that Leong did not show the licence of the boat to him before they left the Tanjung Aru jetty.

Sharezza further testified that he had previously admitted to the charge of overloading the catamaran with tourists which endangered the passengers' lives because he was still panic at that time and did not know anything but just confessed.

He added that he pleaded guilty to the charge because he did not understand and never experienced such situation adding that, he did not know about laws.

To another question, Sharezza said he did not use any communication device inside the boat because he was in panic at that time.

Nartiah was assisted by DPP Nurun Nazifah Muhammad Iyen from the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency while counsel Michelle Usman together with counsel Benazir Japiril Bandaran represented Sharezza, and counsel Elffie Johny assisted Edward.

Trial continues.



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