Tanjung Bungah residents are shocked that the consultant engineer and engineering firm implicated in a fatal landslide in their locality in October 2017 were merely fined RM40,000 each.
Tanjung Bungah Residents Association chairperson Meenakshi Raman urged the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to review and file an appeal over the decision of the Sessions Court in Penang yesterday.
"We are shocked by the imposition of such a paltry fine, given the gravity and seriousness of the offence which led to the deaths of 11 workers," Meenakshi (photo, above) said in a statement.
"In fact, the State Commission of Inquiry (SCI) into the landslide tragedy had found the engineer grossly negligent and recommended that criminal investigations be conducted by the police (under the direction of the AG, if needed) to determine whether prosecution ought to be commenced under Section 304A of the Penal Code, which deals with causing death by negligence, " Meenakshi said.
Yesterday, the consultant engineer, Khoo Koon Tai, and the firm, Perunding KAA Sdn Bhd, pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 15 (1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.
The firm was charged under Section 15 (1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 for failing to provide engineering calculations for the temporary slope for the Granito project where the landslide occurred, thus failing to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all the workers at the site.
Khoo, a director of Perunding KAA, was charged together with the firm under the same section of the Act.
Section 304A of the Penal Code states: “Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.
'RM40,00 fine no deterrent'
Meenakshi said the imposition of a RM40,000 fine by the Sessions Court was no deterrent at all, and that it was a mere "slap on the wrist" of the engineer and his firm.
"It does not commensurate with the seriousness of the matter.
"A jail sentence ought to have been imposed to set an example for other engineers," she added.
Meenakshi expressed disappointment with the sentence handed down and called on the attorney-general to review and appeal the decision for a higher sentence that would also be more deterrent in this circumstance.
"We also call on the police to commence criminal investigations under the direction of the AG, as recommended by the SCI, and seek prosecution under Section 304A of the Penal Code," she said.
"If no serious and deterrent measures are taken, the loss of lives of the 11 workers would be in vain and the SCI findings would not have been given due effect and meaning."