GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - More than 15 prized orchids worth a total of RM20,000 (S$7,800) have been stolen from the Penang Floral Festival venue, including a grand prize-winning endangered species that could only be found in Sabah.
The flowers, which were on exhibition at the Penang Botanic Gardens, vanished overnight.
Event manager Tony Tan, who is also Federation of Malaya Orchid Society vice-president, said the orchids had been displayed at the same spot since last Sunday but were found to be missing when a committee member arrived at the venue on Friday morning.
"When I was notified, we proceeded to inform the Gardens which provided the guard duty from 7pm to 7am daily," said Mr Tan, adding that they lodged a police report.
He said the committee had contacted the respective plant owners to apologise.
"We estimated that the total worth of the stolen orchids at RM20,000. The Paphiopedilum rothschildianum is priceless since it is an endangered species and can only be found in Sabah.
"Some owners have expressed disappointment and said that they might not participate again next year," he said.
The owner of the Paphiopedilum rothschildianum, Mr Sin Chan Wah, 56, took the news in good stride when he was informed about the theft.
"I am disheartened but I trust the organising committee to handle the issue," said Mr Sin, who owns a plant nursery in Cameron Highlands.