Catamaran owner hit with new charges, mother also in the dock

Leong Vin Jee, the operations manager for Syarikat Golden Sailing Travel and Tour Sdn Bhd, now has five charges against him. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, March 16 — The owner of a catamaran that capsized and killed four tourists was today hit with four more charges of causing harm and death by negligence and not following safety procedures in the state’s Tourism Court.

Additionally, his mother, Chung Ket Siew@ Chung Siaw Ping, has also been charged over the same incident, as the director of the tour company that operated the vessel.

Leong Vin Jee, the operations manager for Syarikat Golden Sailing Travel and Tour Sdn Bhd, now has five charges against him.

He was charged individually today with causing hurt and death by negligence by permitting the skipper to take the overloaded boat out to sea, under Section 337 and 304A of the Penal Code respectively.

He is charged with the catamaran’s skipper, Sharezza Salian, with failing to keep appropriate safety equipment like life jackets and buoys onboard, and taking off from a non-designated landing point.

Additionally, he was also charged with Chung for failing to keep the boat licence on the passenger catamaran under the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small ships) Regulations 2008.

He was previously charged under Section 282 with endangering the lives of passengers on Jan 28 by allowing his boat to be overloaded but the charge

The charges are for a fatal boat trip to Pulau Mengalum from here that has made international headlines for killing at least four Chinese tourists and possibly another five missing persons, who are still unaccounted for.

Chung, 63, was additionally charged with identifying Sharezza as the skipper when Leong was still the designated holder of the position.

Sharezza, 26 was today also charged with causing hurt and causing the deaths of the four Chinese tourists in addition to the joint charges with Leong.

They pleaded not guilty to all charges before Sessions Court Judge Noor Hafizah Mohd Salim. Trial date was set for June 6 to 16.

The charges were read for the first time in Tourism Court today, after being transferred from magistrate court on Monday.

The Tourism Court was established in Sabah and Sarawak two years ago and is dedicated to hearing cases — both civil and criminal — involving tourists. Its goal is to expedite court proceedings to enable foreigners to give their statements before they must leave the country.