Call to release inquest report on Double Six crash

KOTA KINABALU: The judicial inquest report on the “Double Six” Nomad air crash that killed 11, including then chief minister Tun Fuad Stephens, should also be released, says former chief minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee (pic).

He said there was much “missing information” in both the declassified Malaysian and Australian reports on the June 6, 1976 crash.

“I believe that the government should release the records, including witness statements and evidence, of the inquest that was conducted in Sabah by a judicial magistrate into the deaths of the persons in the Double Six air crash tragedy,” he said.

He added that the declassified reports on the Nomad 9M-ATZ aircraft had raised more questions.

Among them was why the aircraft was allowed to fly by the then Civil Aviation Department (DCA), which the declassified reports said had not given the aircraft approval for flying passengers at the time.

He said there were many differences in details between the Malaysian and Australian reports, and revealing the inquest report could help fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle.

Yong said the Malaysian report contained mainly the investigator’s findings and conclusions and none of the internal communications between government officials (both federal and state) and Sabah Air.

He said the Australian documents consisted of two reports – one by the Transport Department (government) and the other by Government Aircraft Factories (GAF), the Australian manufacturer of the aircraft bought by Sabah Air in 1975.

The Transport Department report contained internal communications – telegrams, memos, some handwritten notes, which put in context the GAF report on the crash, he added.

He also noted that Australia’s report said Malaysia wanted the reports classified and treated as “confidential”.

“The onus is now on the Malaysian government to explain why Malaysia had requested the report be classified in the first place,” he said.

Yong also said that both reports did not make any mention of the final flight of the ill-fated Nomad aircraft that took off from Labuan for Kota Kinabalu.

He said that former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in April 2010 had spoken about leaving the ill-fated plane to board another aircraft bound for Kota Kinabalu.

“Tengku Razaleigh publicly spoke about he and two others disembarking from the Nomad to board another Nomad (9M-AUA), which was bound for Kudat before proceeding to Kota Kinabalu,” he added.

The Malaysian report said that some of the luggage of passengers in the Nomad 9M-AUA (flight to Kudat) was found in the wreckage of the Nomad 9M-ATZ at Sembulan, Kota Kinabalu.

“This fact itself would require investigation of what happened at Labuan airport. For instance, who had loaded non-passenger luggage to the Nomad 9M-ATZ?” said Yong.

The Malaysian report also stated that the Nomad 9M-ATZ had remained “in Labuan overnight”, having been flown to Labuan “by another Sabah Air pilot” the previous day.

“Was this pilot called to give evidence to the investigation committee?” he asked.

Another question, Yong said, revolved around the load factor of the ill-fated aircraft.

“The Malaysian report was definitive that there was no overloading as the ‘calculated take-off weight’ was 8,065lbs (3,658kg). This was below the maximum take-off weight of 8,500lbs. The aircraft was loaded within the prescribed weight limit,” he said referring to the Malaysian investigation report.

“The Malaysian Transport Ministry needs to explain why, in its answers to Parliament in the past, it said that overloading of the aircraft was said to be the cause of the crash,” he said.

Yong said the Australian report contained a news report (Last Moments of Nomad) by the Herald on June 11, 1976, with the report saying “the Nomad plane crash that killed Sabah State Chief Minister Mohamed Fuad occurred after the plane had been turned away on its first landing approach. It had to make way for another plane, officials said today”.

“This version of the final moments should have been explained in both reports,” he added.

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