PETALING JAYA: Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has denied consuming turtle eggs during an event in Sabah.
“During that particular dinner, I did not take any turtle eggs. I only ate fish, because I have to control my cholesterol level,” he said.
Photographs which went viral on Wednesday show the minister having dinner at a seafood restaurant in Sandakan together with Beluran Umno chief Datuk James Ratib.
A plate of what appears to be at least two-dozen turtle eggs is seen on the table before them.
Being a guest at the function, Ismail added that he was not aware that the restaurant was going to serve turtle eggs.
He also said that he was regretful that turtle eggs may have been served during the event as he was a campaigner of “say no to shark’s fin” during his tenure in the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry.
He added that he is also actively involved in turtle-conservation efforts in Redang Island.
When contacted on the matter earlier, Beluran Umno chief James denied that turtle eggs were served during the dinner.
On what type of eggs were seen in the photos, James said, “I don’t know.”
Turtles became protected under the under Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997.
It is considered an offence to harvest, sell or consume turtle eggs in the state and those convicted are liable to a fine of RM50,000 or to five years’ imprisonment or both.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said an investigation was initiated after the photographs surfaced.“The Sabah Wildlife Department is probing this matter,” he said.