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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sabah history incomplete without details of Double Six tragedy

People are curious about the secrecy that still shrouds the 1976 crash that took the lives of several Sabah leaders.
KOTA KINABALU: It’s been 41 years since Sabah chief minister Fuad Stephens and 10 others died in the so-called Double Six plane crash.
Although so many years have passed, some Sabahans still remember how they felt when they heard the news. And they are still wondering what it was that caused the crash.
It was called the Double Six Tragedy because it happened on June 6 in the shallow Sembulan waters. The plane was on its way from Labuan to the Kota Kinabalu airport when the GAF Nomad’s nose dropped in a one-and-a-half spiral plummet before crashing.
Among those who died with Fuad were finance minister Salleh Sulong, finance ministry permanent secretary Wahid Peter Andu, local government and housing minister Peter Mojuntin, works and communications minister Chong Thien Vun and assistant minister to the chief minister Darius Binion.
After investigations had been completed, deputy communications minister Mohd Ali M Sharif announced that the crash was due to human error, but the full findings were classified under the Official Secrets Act.
Joseph Madis says people need to know why and how the plane actually crashed.
Joseph Madis says people need to know why and how the plane actually crashed.
Joseph Madis, now 53, heard about the crash in the night, a few hours after it happened. His brother roused him from his sleep and said, “Our leaders, Fuad Stephens, Peter Mojuntin and others are now gone.”
Joseph, who then lived in Kampung Duvanson in Putatan, did not feel like sleeping any more and got up from bed to go to the scene, 10km away.
“The news was like a nightmare for me,” he told FMT. “The government should release the full findings because only that way will the public be fully satisfied. We need to know why and how exactly it crashed.
“Why didn’t it try to land? How was the communication like between the plane and the air traffic tower, which I remember was very small then.
“What we know is not enough. We want the full details.”
Able bin Ellon agrees official report should be released and says it's not as if national security is at stake.
Able bin Ellon agrees official report should be released and says it’s not as if national security is at stake.
Abel Bin Ellon, who was 35 in 1976, was at home in Kinarut, 17km away, when he heard about the tragedy from friends.
“I agree that the full official report should be released to the public,” he said. “It’s not like our national security is at stake if we release it.
“Nowadays, governments and the authorities are transparent even when really serious air mishaps happen. Why can’t we get all the details now?”
Rastim Othman said he believed Sabah history would be complete only when the full findings are made known to the public.
Rastim is now 73 and the imam of a mosque. When the tragedy happened, he was working at the Sabah power authority’s office in Tanjung Aru, 1km from the crash scene.
“I left the office on hearing the news and rushed to the scene,” he said. “But it was quite far in the waters. So I and many others just watched the rescue efforts from the seaside village road.
“The government has to declassify the findings and make them publicly known. What we know about the incident at present is so patchy. We don’t know how we lost our great leaders.
“If my generation doesn’t have a clear picture of what happened, how can we expect the generations to come to know the full history of Sabah? It’s so sad.”
We lost our top leaders and still don't have a full account of the accident, says Fatimah Padri.
We lost our top leaders and still don’t have a full account of the accident, says Fatimah Padri.
Fatimah Padri, 67, has feelings similar to Rastim’s. She was working in a shoe factory in Papar, 35km from the crash site.
“We learned about the tragedy on radio and all of us were shocked,” she said. “We just couldn’t continue working for the remainder of the day.
“We lost our top leaders and until now we still don’t have a full account of the accident. I’m just a regular Sabahan but we should know everything that happened.” -FMT


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  2. "George Mojuntin, the eldest son of the Mojuntin family, was one of the eyewitnesses of the aircraft crash. He and his friends were playing golf when the aircraft crashed into the Sembulan Sea while it was trying to land at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. The aircraft was 600 feet above, flying at 86 knots, approaching the runway from the north, seemed to stalled mid-air with one wing dipped down and suddenly spiraled (exactly one and a half turns) towards the shallow sea which was three feet deep and crashed. It was 3:41 pm and 27 seconds.[2] Eyewitnesses at Kampung Sembulan Baru reported that they heard an explosion at about 3:30 pm. When they rushed out from their homes, they saw an aircraft broken into two with cockpit embedded in the sandbank about three feet deep.[1] Parts of the aircraft was embedded in the sea while part of it was exposed above the water. According to Far Eastern Economic Review published on 18 June 1976, the aircraft flown over the Kampung Sembulan Baru at 200 to 300 feet as it approaches the north eastern end of the runway. The aircraft was veering from side to side before it went into a spiral and crashed.[2]..." - http://en.wiki.hancel.net/wiki/1976_Sabah_Air_GAF_Nomad_crash