Declassifying 'Double Six' report a step towards open governance in Sabah, says think tank

KOTA KINABALU: The declassification of the Double Six tragedy report serves as a sign that further initiatives will be implemented to ensure transparent and open governance in Sabah and the federation's relationship with the state, says a think tank.

Institute for Development Studies (Sabah) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Ramzah Dambul said the declassified report is hoped to offer solace and closure for those directly and indirectly involved with the incident, even if it has taken 47 years.

He said the decision to make the report accessible to the public is a significant effort by the Federal Cabinet and should be made the basis of validated evidence to end all questions and conspiracy theories.

"The secrecy has cultivated unwarranted speculation and (caused) grievance to victims' families and the people of Sabah," he said in a statement on Wednesday (April 19).

"Although the tragedy has passed, the consequences and strong sentiment will remain a permanent fixture in the Sabahan psyche", Ramzah said.

He said the report concluded that the probable cause of the tragedy was attributed to an error in management of baggage, leading to the aircraft's centre of gravity to be compromised.

He said though the balance of probability substantially derived from careful consideration with the report and other sources was consistent with the report, IDS was able to conclude this to be the "most likely" situation.

"We also would like to laud the openness and transparency of the Federal Government and we hope there will be a prevailing attitude of upholding these key principles in paving the way forward, thus increasing the people's confidence in good governance," he said.

He said as the tragedy remains a significant chapter in Sabah's history and IDS would remain committed in assisting the state government and the public to manoeuvre through these developments towards a positive trajectory.

Ramzah added that IDS had initiated an open platform for the public to navigate through the event's timeline as it unfolds.

"One of the mechanisms is to gauge public sentiment through data analytics, and we look forward to seeing the public use this platform meaningfully to ensure they are well-informed", he concluded.

The Double Six tragedy report was declassified and made public on April 12.

However, many affected families are dissatisfied with the findings, saying, among others, that the information provided did not portray why it had to be kept a secret for almost five decades.

In the incident on June 6, 1976, a total of 11 people, including the then-chief minister Tun Fuad Stephens were killed as the aeroplane they were travelling in nose-dived into the Sembulan river as it neared the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

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