KOTA KINABALU: Police are investigating Wednesday’s maritime accident between a passenger boat and a fishing trawler for criminal negligence, said Sandakan district police chief Asst Comm Azhar Mohd Hamin.
He said they had classified the investigation under Section 304A of the Penal Code, which states that anyone who causes the death of a person by a “rash or negligent act” could face a two-year imprisonment, a fine or both.
The case was initially probed for negligence in navigating a vessel that could injure others as outlined under Section 280 of the Penal Code, which provides for six-months jail, a fine of RM2,000 or both, he said.
However, he said police reclassified the case after the body of General Operations Force personnel Kpl Asman Ongkal, 40, was recovered on Friday, a day after the passenger boat with 37 people (including Asman) hit the tow ropes of a fishing trawler that was pulling a smaller boat.
This happened close to the Sandakan market jetty at 5.40am on Thursday. He said they were still investigating the case and whether there was negligence on the part of the skipper of the passenger boat.
Maritime operators should observe the rules and guidelines that were already in place while at sea, he said.
“They must also ensure enough life jackets and the boats were not overloaded with passengers.
“We are still investigating if passengers in the boat were wearing life jackets. And looking at the size of the boat, it could only carry about 12 to 14 passengers, ” he said.
Kpl Asman was buried at the Islam Baru cemetery in Sandakan yesterday. He left behind his wife Roslina Sari and two school-going children.
According to survivors, Kpl Asman helped save some of the victims in the accident before he went missing at sea.
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