Mersing Boat Crew Shorthanded

30 Dec

MERSING: The boat that sank in Mersing, claiming the lives of four Singaporeans, requires two deckhands and a driver to operate, according the Malaysian Authorities.

But only the driver was on board when the vessel ran into trouble as it made its way from Sibu Island to Tanjung Leman Ferry Terminal last Sunday.

The man behind the wheel when the vessel capsized, 67-year-old Wan Abdul Rashid Mahmud, was brought on Wednesday to the accident location and also the kelong, as part of the ongoing investigations into the sinking.

MediaCorp understands that the boatman has worked at Ah Yu kelong as a helper for about 30 years and sometimes drives the boat out.

It is believed he has a licence to operate the vessel.

However, on the day of the accident, he violated safety regulations when he took in 29 people onto his boat, which was supposed to carry only 12 passengers.

That is why he and the boat owner, 58-year-old Wong Pak Mai, have been in remand since Sunday.

Mr Wong is also the owner of Ah Yu kelong, a popular destination for anglers.

No charges have been filed against him and Mr Wan Abdul Rashid.

The authorities will decide on Thursday if the remand period should be extended to facilitate investigations.

They could be released on bail.

The two men could be charged with negligence and causing death under Section 304 (A) of the Malaysian Penal Code.

If found guilty, they could face two years' imprisonment, and fined.

A fifth Singaporean is still missing, and search and rescue operations are ongoing. The search resumed at about 8:30am on Wednesday.

Channel NewsAsia understands that about 170 personnel, including divers, were deployed.

A total of four boats left the jetty on Wednesday morning to comb the waters.

Malaysia's Coast Guard has also stepped up checks on boats in the southern waters to make sure they are seaworthy.

It will also ensure vessels are not over-loaded, and have enough life jackets.


Channel News Asia


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