DAP reiterates call for Royal Commission of Inquiry into Tawau aircrash which should also investigate into the pilots’ complaints about the runways and maintenance of MAS aircraft


Press Statement (2) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, September 21, 1995:

DAP reiterates call for Royal Commission of Inquiry into Tawau aircrash which should also investigate into the pilots’ complaints about the runways and maintenance of MAS aircraft

The failure of the Cabinet at its meeting yesterday to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Tawau aircrash which killed 34 people is most disappointing.

DAP reiterates its call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Tawau aircrash which should also investigate into the pilots’ complaints about the condition of the airport runways in the country and maintenance of MAS aircraft.

Immediately after the Tawau aircrash, there were newspaper reports quoting pilots as saying that Tawau is reputed to be one of toughest airport in the country and is described by many Boeing 737 pilots as a “captain’s airport”.

The pilot has to fly over a mountain range and then immediately descend sharply for the Tawau airport approach for the short 1,700-metre runway.

Other pilots have also described airstrips around the country as “difficult to land on” as they have uneven surfaces and pilots do not know what to expect when they hit the runway.

The reaction to these reports by the Department of Civil Aviation has been a most negative and bureaucratic one. The DCA director-general, Zaini Omar said that no official complaint had been received regarding landing conditions at airports in the country and that “there are forms” which are available to pilots to complain if they feel that certain airstrips need improvement.

“Forms” and the mentality cannot stand in the way of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Tawau aircrash, including the conditions of airport runways and airstrips in the country after 34 people had paid with their lives!

Furthermore, such a Royal Commission of Inquiry should also conduct a through investigation into the important aspect of aircraft maintance by MAS.

Two days after the Tawau aircrash, the DC chief investigator, Capt. Syed Zainal Syed Mohamed said investigations have ruled out mechanical fault as the cause of the Tawau aircrash. If this is the case, then the only cause would be human error. However, the bureaucratic mentality again intervened, and suddenly Capt. Syed Zainal was unsure of what he had said about ruling out mechanical fault as the aircrash.

This is why only an independent inquiry could be satisfactory- and 34 human lives is more than enough justification for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the MAS Fokker 50 aircrash in Tawau.

Otherwise, Liong Sik must explain how many people must be killed before the government is prepared to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry.