Friday, November 18, 2011

Nothing wrong for re-investigation into air crash – counsel. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

KOTA KINABALU: There was absolutely nothing wrong for a re-investigation into the plane crash that killed former Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and all 10 others on board a Nomad aircraft on June 6, 1976, to be conducted, the High Court here yesterday heard.

Counsel Datuk Simon Shim told Justice Dato’ Abdul Rahman Sebli that the ‘double six tragedy’ was a most important historical event in Sabah.

“Until this very day, no official report on the real causes of the plane crash has been released to public,” said Shim in the opening speech yesterday.

Shim is counsel for Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Yong Teck Lee and the party who were defendants in a RM50 million defamation suit brought by former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh.

Unfortunately, Shim said since the tragedy in 1976, the public had been denied their right to know of the truth.

He said because of the non-availability of official information on the real causes of the accident, various theories or speculations were formed on what caused the plane crash namely, that it was caused by overloading, pilot error, the serious design fault of the plane and also sabotage.

“These so-called theories and speculations are still continuing and the same were made worse by the Federal Deputy Minister of Transport’s recent very brief answer in Parliament on or around December 15, 2009 that he did not even get his basic facts right which prompted a MP to criticise that the answer was simply ‘unacceptable’.

“It was not until that very good Friday of April 2, 2010 that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah came to Sabah and dropped a bombshell about what happened that day (June 6, 1976) before the plane took off,” he said.

“We will hear evidence that this is the very first time that the people in Sabah heard from the horse’s mouth that Tengku Razaleigh was already strapped to his seat behind the late Tun Fuad, while the then Sarawak Chief Minister, Tun Rahman Yaakob and another dignitaries seated in the other seats with the other Sabah leaders and that he and the two others might not have been alive today had it not been for a last-minute invitation by the plaintiff (Harris) to board another plane to go to Pulau Banggi in Kudat,” he said, adding that the audience was stunned and shocked-virtually speechless.

He said Yong being a leader of the party and a well-known politician and also an ex-Chief Minister of Sabah, naturally made statements in response to Tengku Razaleigh’s disclosure of the new information by calling for a re-investigation of the incident.

“The witnesses will say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that,” he said, adding that what the defendants had done was to call for a re-investigation into the incident to be conducted.

“It is as simple as that. No one was named or targeted. No malice, nor ulterior motive, let alone the wild accusation that the plaintiff to be investigated,” he submitted.

He said the defendants would call five to seven witnesses to testify, inter alia, what Tengku Razaleigh did and said before and during the forum and it was the first time that the latter had revealed such a vital piece of information and no one had heard of it before.

He said that the witness would also testify that Yong had nothing personal against Harris, what the defendants did in the circumstances was correct and justifiable and they concurred with the call for re-investigation into the incident and that the public wanted to know the truth as well.

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