Caught under a conservationist fire, Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob today said he abstained from eating turtle eggs served at a recent dinner because it is 'high in cholesterol'.
"I abstain from eating turtle eggs because it is high in cholesterol. It has been a long time since I've eaten turtle eggs," he is quoted by The Star as saying.
He said he only ate fish at the dinner.
Conservationists slammed Ismail Sabri ( photo ) after a photograph of him at a dinner in Sandakan, where turtle eggs were served, went viral on the internet.
Served during the dinner with Beluran Umno chief James Ratib was a large lobster and what looked like a couple of dozens of turtle eggs.
However, the Umno division chief told the daily that he did not know what sort of eggs it was.
The Sabah government is investigating the matter.
Harvesting of turtle eggs is allowed under strict and limited licensing on the peninsular east coast but is illegal in Sabah, under the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997.
Those guilty of harvesting, selling or consuming the eggs in the state can be fined up to RM50,000 or jailed for five years or both.