Employee says named as director but never paid



KOTA KINABALU: The Sessions Court here heard that Leong, who is one of the accused persons in the trial over the catamaran tragedy in January, had named one of his employees as the director of the tour company.

Fredeli Embon, 32, testified before judge Noor Hafizah Mohd Salim that his name was registered as a director and used for the tour company, Golden Sailing.

To a question by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nartiah M. Sambatan, he said he did not carry out the duty as a director in the tour company.

Fredeli, who worked for Leong and Leong’s mother since three years ago, said Leong’s mother was also the director of the company as well as the owner, while Leong was his boss and who was also managing the tour company.

Nartiah: Do you know why Leong did not use his own name since he is the one who manages the company?

Fredeli: I do not know.

To another question by Nartiah, Fredeli, who worked as a kitchen assistant and driver at a restaurant in Asia City here, said Leong promised him that he would pay him RM500 monthly but Leong did not make such payment.

Nartiah: Have you received any commission as a director of Golden Sailing?

Fredeli: No.

Nartiah: Have you ever been promised by Leong or his mother to be given commission as a director?

Fredeli: Yes, he had promised to pay RM500 per month but it was not paid.

Nartiah: Who promised to pay you the RM500?

Fredeli: Leong

Fredeli, who is the 14th prosecution witness, was testifying in the trial of three persons, Sharezza Salian, 23, Leong Vin Jee, 44, and Leong’s mother Chung Ket Siew @ Chung Siaw Ping, 64, in the catamaran tragedy in January.

Sharezza, who was the skipper, Leong, the operations manager of the travel company, and Chung, who was the owner of the travel company face up to 10 charges and claimed trial to the charges, which were read to them on March 16.

The three accused were each charged with causing hurt to 20 passengers, all from China aged between 17 and 50, by taking the boat to sea so negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of others.

They were charged under Section 337 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to six months or a maximum fine of RM1,000, or to both, upon conviction.

Sharezza, Leong and Chung were also alleged to have negligently caused the death of four China nationals, including two women, aged 27 and 49, but not amounting to culpable homicide.

The charges were framed under Section 304A of the Penal Code, which provides for a jail term of up to two years, or a fine, or to both, on conviction.

Sharezza and Leong also face two joint charges under the Ports and Harbours Regulations 2008 for 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 was not a designated landing point.

The 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.

The indictment carries a maximum fine of RM500,000 or a jail term of up to two years or both, on conviction.

Meanwhile, Leong and Chung were jointly accused of failing to keep the boat licence 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 was 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 Regulation 13 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) Regulations 2008.

All of the alleged offences were committed at Kampung Tanjung Aru Lama Jetty, at a travel company at Asia City and in the waters off the coast of Mengalum Island here between 9.15am and 11am on January 28.

In cross-examination by counsel Edward Paul, Fredeli said  his name was added as a director since last year and agreed that he had no role in the company.

“My name was borrowed to open Golden Sailing and at that time, I was still working as a kitchen assistant and a driver,” he said.

Fredeli also agreed that he was an employee of Golden Sailing and had nothing to do with the operation of the catamaran which was run by the company.

To another question by Edward, Fredeli said he was unsure whether Chung knew or not about the company’s operation as Chung and Leong spoke in the Chinese language.

“All  decisions on the company are made by their family members only, including his wife and father,” he answered.

To a question by Nartiah, Fredeli said Leong and Leong’s wife were the ones who were actively managing and making decisions for the company.

The management of the boat to carry passengers was done by Leong, he answered.

The court fixed October 9 – 13, 16, 19 and 20 this year for the continuation of trial.

Leong and Chung were released on bail of RM19,000 and RM16,000 with RM3,500 and RM3,000 to be deposited, respectively, with two local sureties while Sharezza is currently released on bail with a deposit of RM1,500, pending disposal of the case.

Nartiah appeared together with the DPP from the Maritime Department, Nurun Nazifah Mohd Iyen.

Edward represented Leong and Chung while counsels Benazir Japiril Bandaran and Michelle Usman represented Sharezza under the National Legal Aid Foundation (NLAF).