The Borneo Post (Sabah)
Capsized catamaran in good condition, says skipper
KOTA KINABALU: The skipper of the catamaran which capsized while ferrying China tourists to Mengalum Island last year told the Sessions Court here yesterday that three persons, including him, had handled the boat.
Sharezza Salian, 27, who appeared before judge Noor Hafizah Mohd Salim, testified under oath from the witness dock as the first defence witness.
He faces several charges along with two others, Leong Vin Jee, 44, the operation manager of Golden Sailing travel company, and Chung Ket Siew @ Chung Siaw Ping, 64, the owner of Golden Sailing travel company.
Sharezza and Leong were separately charged with causing hurt to 20 passengers, all from China aged between 17 and 50, by taking the boat to the sea so negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of others. The alleged offence was framed under Section 337 of the Penal Code.
Both of them were also alleged to have negligently caused the death of four China nationals, including two women, aged between 27 and 49, but not amounting to culpable homicide. They were separately charged under Section 304A of the Penal Code for the alleged offence.
Sharezza and Leong also face two joint charges of failure to keep on the passenger boat the appropriate safety equipment at all times and for embarking the passengers at Kampung Tanjung Aru Lama jetty here, which is not a designated landing point.
The alleged offences were framed under Regulation 16 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) Regulations 2008 and Regulation 13 of the Ports and Harbours (Ports, Harbours and Dues) Regulations 2008, respectively.
Meanwhile, Leong and his mother, Chung, were jointly accused of failing to keep the boat license on the passenger boat at all times, which was charged under Regulation 9 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) Regulations 2008.
Chung is also alleged to have employed Sharezza as the skipper of the boat without altering and reporting the particulars of the skipper to the nearest licensing authority, an offence framed under Rule 13 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) Regulations 2008.
Apart from that, Leong was also charged with conveying overloaded passengers by water in the catamaran that endangered the lives of the passengers.
For the alleged offence, Leong was jointly charged with Sharezza under Section 282 of the Penal Code and read together under Section 34 of the Code. But Sharezza admitted to the offence on February 4, to which he was sentenced to six months’ jail.
All of the alleged offences were committed at Kampung Tanjung Aru Lama jetty, a travel company in Asia City and the waters off the coast of Mengalum Island here between 9.15 am and 11 am on January 28, 2017.
In examination-inchief by counsel Michelle Rossana Usman, he named Ah Choi and Aman as the ones who drove the boat together with him and he was assigned to be at the front of the boat.
Apart from that, he also said that he helped Ah Choi and Aman to check the back of the boat which was the engine part.
To a question by Michelle, Sharezza said his boss assigned him to the front of the boat and identified Leong, who was sitting in the accused dock as the boss while Chung was the boss’ mother.
He also claimed that he had worked for Leong less than a month, which was about two weeks.
To another question by Michelle, Sharezza said Leong was the one responsible for the boarding of the tourists into the boat.
“Were you familiar with driving the boat?” asked Michelle to which Sharezza answered, “No.”
“When the boat was at the Tanjung Aru jetty, how was its condition?” Michelle asked.
Sharezza answered, “The boat was in a good condition.”
“How do you know the boat was in good condition?” Michelle asked.
“I know. I checked the boat myself,” he answered.
To another question by Michelle, Sharezza said all of the boat passengers were given life jackets and that the boat could not depart if he did not give the safety jackets to them.
Michelle asked, “When the boat departed from Tanjung Aru jetty, how was the boat condition?” and Sharezza answered in short, “Good.”
“Along the journey from Tanjung Aru to Mengalum, how did you drive the boat?” Michelle asked and Sharezza answered, “Slow.”
Deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Nartiah F. Mirchelle Sambatan and DPP from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Nurun Nazifah Muhammad Iyen, acted for the prosecution.
Michelle defended Sharezza while counsels Edward Paul and Elffie Johnny defended Leong and Chung.
Also present was Even Chee Vui Siong who holds the watching brief for the victims.
The trial continues today.