Group demands jail time for engineer behind deadly 2017 Penang landslide

Opalyn Mok
Workers from the Department of Occupational Safety and Health examine the site where the deadly landslide occurred at Tanjung Bungah, Penang October 24, 2017. — Bernama pic

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 12 — The Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA) has called for an engineer and his firm to be handed prison terms instead of RM40,000 fines over a fatal landslide that killed 11 workers in 2017.

TBRA chairman Meenakshi Raman said fines were wholly inadequate given the deaths, likening it to a slap on the wrist.

“It does not commensurate with the seriousness of the matter, a jail sentence ought to have been imposed to set an example for other engineers,” she said in a statement today.

She expressed her disappointment at the punishment meted out by the Sessions Court yesterday and pressed Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas to appeal for a harsher sentence.

“We also call on the police to commence criminal investigations under the direction of the AG as recommended by the SCI and seek a prosecution under Section 304A of the Penal Code,” she said referring to recommendations made by the Commission of Enquiry (SCI) into the fatal landslide in Tanjung Bungah.

The SCI, in its 116-report, recommended that engineer Khoo Koon Tai be investigated for causing death by gross negligence under Section 304A of the Penal Code.

The SCI concluded that Khoo’s gross negligence had led to the fatal landslide.

Meenakshi said if deterrent measures were not taken, the loss of the 11 lives would be in vain and the SCI findings would not have been given due effect and meaning.

“We are shocked by the imposition of such a paltry fine, given the gravity and seriousness of the offence which led to the death of 11 workers,” she said.

Yesterday, Khoo and engineering firm, Perunding KAA Sdn Bhd, were fined RM40,000 each after they pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide engineering calculations for the temporary slope for the Granito housing project where the landslide occurred, thus failing to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all the workers at the site.

They were charged under Section 15 (1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 for failing to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all workers.

The punishment under the offence, under Section 19 of the same Act, states that anyone convicted will be liable to a fine of not more than RM50,000 or to an imprisonment for a term of not more than two years or both.

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