by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, March 25, 1993:
Ghafar should direct Liong Sik to explain publicly next Tuesday what has happened to the inquiry and its findings into the Subang International Airport Control Tower Fire last October
The visit of the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, to the Subang International Airport next Tuesday to get a first-hand look at the security situation there is most appropriate and timely.
This is because the Malaysian public have lost totally confidence in the Transport Minister, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, after three security scandals at the Subang International Airport in less than a year, despite public assurances that airport security was being tightened each time there was a security scandal.
It is clear that the problem with the airport security is not lack of funds, but lack of leadership – in particular Ministerial leadership! The comment by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Hanif Omar, yesterday is most apt when he said that the Subang Inter¬national Airport had one of the best monitoring systems and yet there had been a breach as the people monitoring the system were careless.
Tan Sri Hanif said: “We should not be wasting money on multi-million ringgit monitoring systems when those doing the monitor¬ing themselves fall asleep on the job.”
It is crystal clear that if the Minister of Transport is allowed to ‘fall asleep on the job’ where three airport security scandals can take place in less a year, without having to accept any responsibility, it is difficult to demand higher standards from the subordinates responsible for civil aviation or airport security.
Ghafar Baba should investigate as to whether Liong Sik is fit and competent to continue as Transport Minister or he should be removed from the Cabinet
If Ghafar Baba’s visit to the Subang International Airport next Tuesday is going to be meaningful, and to ensure that there is not going to be a fourth airport security scandal in the near future, he should not only look into the security measures being taken by the airport authorities, but he should investigate whether Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik is fit and competent to continue as Transport Minister or whether he should recommend to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, far his removal from the Cabinet.
In his forthcoming Tuesday visit, Ghafar should also direct Liong Sik to publicly explain what has happened to the inquiry into the Subang International Airport Control Tower fire last October, as Ghafar had himself announced on 17th October last year that the Cabi¬net wanted the report into the second Subang International Airport fire in six months to be submitted as soon as possible.
Ghafar had stressed then: “We want the report to be submitted to us within a week or two and there is no such thing as a postponement or delay.”
What credibility can the Deputy Prime Minister and the Cabinet command when the solemn statement that “there is no such thing as a postponement or delay” means nothing whatsoever – as there is now a postponement of 24 weeks!
In failing to get the report of the inquiry of the Subang International Airport Control Tower ready within the two-week deadline announced by Ghafar, Liong Sik had failed to fulfil the conditions set by the Cabinet itself.
In this connection, Ghafar Baba should direct the Malaysian Airport Berhad not to embark on a petty exercise to take ‘vengeance’ against the reporters for their expose of the airport security weak¬nesses by imposing unreasonable restrictions on journalists covering the airport beat.
The Deputy Prime Minister should instruct MA.B to consult with the National Union of Journalists before introducing any new restrictions at the airport, and that in the meantime, the status quo for the journalists at the airport should be maintained.