'Double Six' crash report: Too many questions, not enough answers for now

Never forget: A file photo of the late Toh Puan Rahimah (front) and Jikilin being helped during their visit to the memorial in Kota Kinabalu. Iskandar Salleh (inset) is the son of Salleh Sulong.

KOTA KINABALU: After a 47-year wait, the report on the Sabah’s tragic “Double Six” air crash is finally out. And it has turned out to be a huge disappointment for the families of the victims.

Many are bewildered as to why it took the government almost half a century to declassify such a tame report, blaming the crash on the pilot.

“I mean, come on. This is frustrating. We waited 47 years for this kind of report?” asked Iskandar Salleh, 52, the youngest son of the late state minister Datuk Salleh Sulong.

He felt that the report was incomplete, did not make sense and was just not satisfactory.

He said Malaysia should push the Australian government to declassify its findings on the June 6, 1976 Nomad N22B, 9M-ATZ plane crash.

“We want the Australian report, not just this Malaysian version. We have more questions than answers now,” Iskandar said.

He added that the report also blamed the airline company for its incompetency in checking the aircraft prior to flying, and wondered if he, as the family, should sue the company.

“I think if the company is really at fault, then they should take responsibility and compensate the families involved,” he said.

Many were left asking why the government kept the report a secret if it was pilot and standard operating procedure error. The families, they said, had yearned for answers for so long.

Datin Jikilin Binion, the 88-year-old widow of the late state assistant minister Datuk Darius Binion also could not believe that it was just pilot error.

“If this is all what the report is about, why make us wait 47 years, as if the government was hiding some kind of controversial top secret matter?” she asked.

Jakilin said many of those involved in clearing up and responding to the crash at that time have died, and now it was even more difficult to get real answers as to what could have led to that fateful crash.

“Is there anything else I can do now? I might have to just accept it,” she added.

Prior to the release of the report, Jakilin said she had been ecstatic and was hopeful for some sort of closure when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced that the government would be declassifying the report and making it public.

“Now, this is all that we get. It is so disappointing, we still don’t have answers,” Jakilin said.

In the tragic incident, 11 people including the then chief minister Tun Fuad Stephens were killed.

Other victims of the plane crash were state ministers Datuk Peter Mojuntin and Chong Thien Vun, Sabah Finance Ministry permanent secretary Datuk Wahid Peter Andau, Isak Atan (private secretary to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who was then finance minister), Kpl Said Mohammad (bodyguard to Fuad), pilot Capt Gandhi J. Nathan and Fuad’s eldest son Johari Stephens.

They were on a flight from Labuan when the aircraft crashed in waters off Sembulan while approaching Kota Kinabalu Airport.The Star has also reached out to other families of those who perished in the crash including Tun Fuad Stephens’ daughter Faridah and Datuk Peter Mojuntin’s son Datuk Donald Mojuntin but they needed time to process the report.

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