Make Double Six judicial inquest report public, urges former Sabah CM

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 29 Apr 2023

KOTA KINABALU: With the official Malaysian and Australian reports into the Double Six tragedy now declassified and accessible by the public, the same should be done for the judicial inquest report into the tragedy, says former chief minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee said.

He said there was still "missing information" from both the declassified reports on the June 6, 1976 Nomad aircraft crash that killed 11 people, including then chief minister Tun Fuad Stephens.

"The government should release the records, including witness statements and evidence of the inquest conducted in Sabah by a magistrate," he said.

He said the declassified reports on the Double Six Nomad 9M-ATZ air crash only raised more questions.

Among them was why the Civil Aviation Department allowed the Nomad aircraft to fly, because based on the declassified reports, approval was not given for carrying passengers at the time.

He said there were also differences between the Malaysian and Australian reports and the inquest report could help fill in the missing pieces to the many questions raised about the crash.

Yong said that the Malaysian report mainly contained the investigator's findings but internal communications among Federal and state government officials as well as Sabah Air were not included.

Yong said that the Australian report comprised one by the Department of Transport (government) and Government Aircraft Factories (GAF), the manufacturer of the aircraft.

The Australian Department of Transport report contained internal communications such as telegrams, memos and handwritten notes, he said.

He also noted that Australia's report said that Malaysia wanted the reports to be kept confidential and they should explain why this was needed.

Yong also said that both reports did not make any mention of the final moments of the ill-fated flight from Labuan as it approached Kota Kinabalu.

Yong said that former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in April 2010 had revealed that he had disembarked from the ill-fated 9M-ATZ plane to board another Nomad aircraft (9M-AUA) bound for Kudat.

The Malaysian report said some luggage belonging to passengers in the 9M-AUA flight were found in the wreckage of the crashed plane in Sembulan, Kota Kinabalu.

He said what happened at Labuan airport needed to be investigated to learn who loaded the non-passenger luggage to the Nomad 9M-ATZ.

He also said the Malaysian report also stated that the Nomad 9M-ATZ remained in Labuan overnight and flown there "by another Sabah Air pilot the previous day".

"Was this pilot called to give evidence?" he asked.

Yong said another issue was the loading of the crashed aircraft.

"The Malaysian report was definitive that there was no overloading as the 'calculated take-off weight' was 8,065 lbs (3,658kg)," he said, adding this was below the maximum take-off weight of 8,500lbs (3,855kg).

"The aircraft was loaded within the prescribed weight limit. The Transport Ministry needs to explain why – in its answers to Parliament in the past – that overloading was said to be the cause of the crash," he said.

Another discrepancy between the Australian and Malaysian reports, he said, was the weight of the cargo placed in the rear of the aircraft.

"The Malaysian report found that the rear baggage area had 325lbs (147kg) of luggage.

"But the Australian claimed that Rear Baggage was 415lbs (188kg). This 27.7% discrepancy needs to be explained," he added.

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