KOTA KINABALU, June 25 — Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Bung Moktar Radin has denied allegations that he consumed turtle eggs which are prohibited in the state.
He said the photos that have been posted on social media depicting him having a meal with the purported turtle eggs, were actually chicken eggs.
“Those were deshelled eggs, but it was edited to look like turtle eggs. Stupid,” the Sabah Umno chief replied when contacted by reporters for comment.
He also said the photo was taken months ago and uploaded by his community development officer, identified as Rezo.
Rezo had posted a clarification on his Facebook account earlier today, saying he had taken the original photos and those that had gone viral had been tampered with by someone else.
Bung believes his “political enemies” had altered the pictures to make him look bad.
He added that he will still cooperate with investigators as he had nothing to be afraid of and would not file a report with the police to counter the allegations.
Earlier today, Tanjung Aru assemblyman Datuk Junz Wong uploaded a photo of Bung, dining with a companion in what looked like a home setting, with turtle eggs served on a plate.
Wong took Bung to task, saying it was not the first time a senior Umno leader had been implicated in a scandal over turtle eggs in Sabah, where turtles are a completely protected species.
Sabah Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Jafry Arifin had earlier said the state government will investigate the case and take action if necessary, adding that no one was above the law.
In Sabah, turtles are a protected species under the state’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 legislation, and it is an offence to possess the animals or their products (shell, meat and eggs).
Offenders can be fined RM50,000 or jailed for five years, or both, upon conviction.
In 2015, Senior federal Umno leader Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaacob and then Beluran Umno chief Datuk James Ratib was also implicated in a similar fashion, at a dinner where turtle eggs was being served.
Earlier this year, a family member of a former assemblyman linked to the current government was also implicated in a dinner with turtle eggs.
Neither case was convicted, partly due to the difficulty in obtaining evidence to prosecute the case.
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