PETALING JAYA – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has called for a thorough investigation into the catamaran that sank while on a journey to Pulau Mengalum on Saturday, killing three people so far.
“I take the Sabah boat capsize tragedy very seriously, and I want a thorough investigation to identify the cause of the incident,” Najib posted in Bahasa Malaysia on his Facebook account on Monday.
“However, for now, complete focus must be given to the search and rescue of six other victims who are still missing,” he said.
Najib urged all parties to abide by rules and guidelines set by the Government to ensure their safety.
The catamaran carrying 28 Chinese tourists and three crew capsized at about 10am on Saturday after being hit by strong winds and huge waves an hour after leaving the Tanjung Aru jetty here for Pulau Mengalum, a tourist attraction about 56km northwest of Kota Kinabalu.
The 26-year-old skipper and a 38-year-old crewman were rescued earlier on Sunday, but have been held under Section 304A of the Penal Code for causing death by negligence.
They were being held to assist police investigations into the incident, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said on Twitter.
Twenty tourists and two crew members were rescued from waters near Labuan, about 32 hours after the catamaran sank. Three tourists were found dead.
In KOTA KINABALU, the authorities said they will check to see whether the catamaran was registered in Sabah or elsewhere.
Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said the Sabah government had ruled that catamarans could carry a maximum of 12 people, including the crew and skipper.
“A catamaran has a capacity of more than 30 passengers. However, the Sabah government limits the number of passengers for tourism purposes,” he told reporters.
Catamarans registered outside Sabah can carry more than 30 passengers.
Pang said Jesselton Point, and not Tanjung Aru Jetty, is the normal jetty used by boats to reach tourist resorts on islands on the west coast of Sabah.
The operator’s decision to switch to Tanjung Aru Jetty could be due to high passenger traffic at Jesselton Point due to Chinese New Year.