From T K Chua
Tragedy has struck again, this time on a catamaran loaded with holiday-makers off Sabah.
Now the police have detained the owner, the skipper and a crewman for investigation. So far, two are confirmed dead while five others are still missing.
By all means, investigate but I think it will not compensate the mental anguish of those who have suffered the ordeal or bring back the lives of those who have died.
I remember not long ago there was a Pulau Tioman ferry fire which took a few lives as well. We were told in that incident the crew abandoned the passengers to fend for themselves when the ferry was in flames.
Without fail, we can see the common thread running through all these unfortunate incidents — no clear standard operating procedures, lack of professionalism and training of the crew, no safety precautions, overloading, non-compliance with regulations, and no clear search-and-rescue response time and procedures.
Why are we such a cowboy country doing things this “chin chai” way?
We can look at this problem in so many ways.
First, maybe there are no proper regulations governing ferry services at sea.
Second, even if regulations exist, maybe no one is really aware of them.
Third, the operators don’t care because no one is enforcing the regulations anyway.
Let’s be realistic; I think Malaysia is far from becoming a developed country.
We do not have professional regulators, enforcers, owners/operators and rescuers. We leave it to chance and the whims of owners/operators and their half-baked skippers.
Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz may try very hard to promote tourism but sometimes it is incidents like this that have done the most damage to our country.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.