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Hishammuddin: UPNM system review being mulled after death of cadet officer

KUALA LUMPUR: The Defence Ministry is considering a major system review at the National Defence University (UPNM) following the death of 21-year-old final year navy cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the Ministry viewed the case seriously, adding that UPNM's management should not shirk on its  responsibility over the matter.

"I want UPNM and our military academy to be responsible. If there is a need to, we will review the system. They cannot wash their hands as we do not want the victim to die in vain," he told reporters at an event at the Putra World Trade Centre here on Sunday.

Asked to comment on what kind of review, Hishammuddin said he will announced it to the public after receiving the full proposal from UPNM.

Hishammuddin was asked to explain the actions being taken to curb bullying at UPNM.

Zulfarhan died on June 1 after being bound, beaten and burned with an iron, allegedly due to a dispute about a laptop.

Following his death, five UPNM students were charged in a magistrate's court on Wednesday with murder while another student was charged with abetting the five in causing Zulfarhan's death.

Another 13 were brought to court on Wednesday to face charges under Section 330 of the Penal Code read together with Section 34, which provides for a jail term of seven years and a fine, upon conviction.

On a separate matter, Hishammuddin said that the investigation was still ongoing into the crashed Hawk 108 fighter jet in Chukai, Terengganu.

"I have ordered for a transparent and detailed investigation and so far, we believe that the Hawk fighter jets can still be used in any RMAF operation," he said.

"We are not looking at other fighter jets so far," added Hishammuddin.

On Thursday, the Hawk 108 training fighter jet took off from the Kuantan air force base at 11am and lost contact half an hour later. 

The bodies of Mejar Yazmi Mohamed Yusof, 39, and Mejar Mohd Hasri Zahari, 31, were found at 2.30pm. 

The 108 is a two-seater version of the Hawk 208 fighter, which made air strikes in Lahad Datu, Sabah, against an armed incursion by militants in 2013.