Copter tragedy: Form an RCI to investigate crash, says Lam Thye

KUALA LUMPUR: A Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) must be set up to find out the causes of the recent helicopter tragedy in Lumut, Perak and determine the remedial action needed to prevent a repeat, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

The Alliance for a Safe Community chairman said the RCI would have the clout to conduct a thorough and independent investigation.

"This heart-wrenching tragedy marks the worst helicopter crash in the country in the last nine years.

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"The commission must conduct its investigation in an open and transparent manner, leaving no stone unturned and no neglect or shortcoming, if any, unexposed," he said in a statement on Thursday (April 25).

Lee said the authorities had to quickly get to the truth and actual cause of the tragedy.

"Considering the seriousness of the tragedy, setting up a board of inquiry, as has been announced, is not sufficient.

"Only truly qualified and competent persons should be appointed to a Royal Commission to investigate," he said.

A comprehensive investigation should involve gathering evidence from the crash site, analysing flight data recorders and interviewing witnesses, if any, and seeking expert advice from aviation experts, engineers and meteorologists, Lee said.

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"We have to know whether it was due to nature or human factors or mechanical issues.

"Leave it entirely to the members of the commission to investigate and come out with the findings.

"Only then can we strengthen our aviation regulations to ensure they are robust enough to prevent repeat tragedies," he said.

The tragedy is not only a loss to the Defence Ministry and the families of the victims but also to our nation, Lee said.

"Adequate support should be provided to the families, including counselling and financial assistance.

"It is good that Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin has pledged cash aid as preliminary assistance to the families of the Lumut crash.

"It is hoped that such assistance will be continued with counselling and further support in the days and years ahead," he said.

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Collaboration among government agencies, aviation authorities, airlines and industry stakeholders is essential for implementing comprehensive safety measures, Lee added.

"Regular meetings, conferences and forums should be held to exchange best practices, share lessons learned and foster a culture of safety across the aviation sector.

"We cannot afford another similar tragedy. We have had one too many.

"We have to quickly learn the right lessons from the past tragedies to show us the right way to save lives in the future," he said.

On Tuesday (April 23), 10 Navy personnel, based in Lumut and Kota Kinabalu, were killed when two helicopters collided in mid-air over the Lumut naval base and crashed.

The incident occurred during a rehearsal for a flyover for the 90th Naval Day celebration, which has since been cancelled.

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