Liong Sik should not trifle with lives and safety of the people of Bintulu by giving vague promises that a new Bintulu airport would be completed within 24 months but allow the project to overrun after September 1997


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

Liong Sik should not trifle with lives and safety of the people of Bintulu by giving vague promises that a new Bintulu airport would be completed within 24 months but allow the project to overrun after September 1997

The Transport Minister, Datuk Sri Dr. Ling Liong Sik should not trifle with lives and safety of the people of Bintulu by giving vague promises that a new Bintulu airport would be completed within 24 months but allow the project to overrun after September 1997.

Liong Sik told reporters after a post-Cabinet meeting that new airports for Tawau and Bintulu could be completed within 24 months.

This is good news for the people of Bintulu who are having nightmares after the Tawau aircrash which killed 34 people as half the Bintulu town would been turned into a cemetery if the aircrash had taken place at the Bintulu airport rather than in Tawau.

The Bintulu airport is the most dangerous airport in the whole Malaysia, as it is sited smack in the heart of the town, with two schools – one primary and another secondary – with a total of 3,000 students adjoining the Bintulu airport.

Liong Sik should realise that if there is any mishap at the Bintulu airport before it is relocated, causing half of Bintulu town to be destroyed and a toll in terms of hundreds of human lives, it will be on his conscience!

There is some scepticism in the low-keyed announcement by Liong Sik yesterday that the new Bintulu airport could be completed within 24 months, as demanded by the people of Bintulu as well as air-travellers, in their mass signature campaign immediately after the Tawau air-crash.

This is because for four days, there was no positive response from the Federal or State government leaders to the renewed concern and fears of the people of Bintulu that they are sitting on a time-bomb and want the relocation of the Bintulu airport to outside town within 24 months to be given top priority.

The reaction from Federal and State government leaders were mostly cold and unsympathetic, with everybody claiming that all the airports in the country are safe. The Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud outdid everybody by claiming that the Bintulu airport has “all the necessary safety features and is safe for the daily use of light aircraft”.

However, when asked to specify the details of “all the necessary safety features” which could allay the fears of the people of Bintulu that they are sitting on a time-bomb, Tan Sri Taib was unable to give any details.

I hope that the “good news” given by Liong Sik that the new Bintulu airport would be completed within 24 months is really “good news” and not a play to appease the people of Bintulu and Sarawak after the Barisan Nasional had suddenly realised that it would have to hold a state general elections in Sarawak in the next 12 months.

The new Bintulu airport must be declared a “fast track” project, so that by the time the next state general election is conducted sometime next year, the people of Bintulu should be able to see for themselves that the speed of the construction new airport would definitely meet two-years deadline for its completion.

Liong Sik should also explain publicity whether he had received a special “green light” from the Cabinet meeting yesterday to give the construction of the new Bintulu airport the topmost priority!