Sabah To Introduce Heavier Penalties To Curb Fish Bombing


Sabah Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong, who is also the Tanjung Aru assemblyman, (centre), being greeted as he arrives at Pulau Gaya, off Kota Kinabalu, today.KOTA KINABALU: Sabah hopes to be rid of the perennial problem of fish-bombing by introducing heavier penalties
Sabah Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong said the law will be changed to provide heavier penalties, including jail time, for fish-bombers
The state was also thinking of cancelling the fishing licence of anyone caught for fish blasting or in possession of bombed fish, Wong told reporters after a meet-the-people session at Pulau Gaya, near here, today
Various government agencies have been involved in joint operations statewide to crack down on fish blasting following the deaths of two Chinese tourists and a local divemaster, killed by fish bombs off Semporna, last July 5
Zhao Zhong and Xu Yingjie, both 26, and diving instructor Ab Zainal Abdu, 30, were diving near Pulau Kalapuan, Semporna, when the incident occurred about 5pm
Police initially arrested a boatman, aged 24, and a guide, 23. Later another 10 people, including sea gypsies, were arrested for questioning
Police classified the case as murder but no one has been charged as yet due to a lack of witnesses
The state is pushing for fish bombs to be categorised as a type of firearm. This would mean that those caught in possession of such bombs would face the same punishment as those caught for unlawful possession of firearms
Under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, those charged with unlawful possession of firearms face up to 14 years in jail and not less than six strokes of the rotan
At present, Section 26 of the Fisheries Act 1985 deems fish-bombing as an offence punishable under Section 25, providing a fine of up to RM20,000 or a jail term of up to two years, or both, on conviction
Pilot water project for Pulau GayaMeanwhile, Wong announced that the government would soon implement a prepaid water supply system in Pulau Gaya, which is 15 minutes by boatride from the city
Currently, islanders are buying water for RM5 per cubic metre. The water is brought by boat from the mainland
The layout plan for the prepaid water supply system at Pulau Gaya.With the new system, Wong said, islanders would be charged rates similar to mainland ratepayers — at RM1.30 per cubic metre
The island is part of the Tanjung Aru state constituency, of which Wong is assemblyman
He said the pilot project would kick off in two of the six villages on the island, namely Kampung Pulau Gaya and Kampung Kesuapan. This will involve some 510 villagers
About 15,000 people are staying on the island
Each house would be provided with its own water meter, Wong said, adding islanders would have to pay first before being allowed to use the water
Wong said this project would cost RM5.3 million
“It’s in the last stage now as the design has already been completed. The state Cabinet has approved it and the budget has already been allocated
“We are only waiting for the state finance ministry to issue the letter so we can appoint the contractor to implement the project,” he said
Wong said the previous government had built the main pipe to supply water to the island but not the connection pipes to the houses
“So now, we are going to connect the pipes to the houses and provide the meters. It will be extended to other villages on the island in phases.”The initial water supply project, which was a federal undertaking, was completed in 2013 at a cost of RM93 million. But, clean water never reached the islanders due to the absence of individual connections to the houses
However, water was supplied to several buildings such as schools, a resort and an Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) base on the island. - FMT

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