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Crashed chopper hampers SWP campaign

 | July 24, 2012

Sarawak Workers Party de facto leader Sng Chee Hua is on the lookout for helicopters to carry out his election strategy in the rural interior.

KUCHING: Newly registered Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) is handicapped. The aircraft, Eurocopter EC 120, which crashed near the Sungai Lingga estuary last Friday taking with it three victims, belonged to businessman Sng Chee Hua, who is also SWP’s de facto leader.

With the fast approaching general election, SWP has now hit a bump over its campaign plans. A helicopter was crucial to its campaign in Sarawak’s rural interior.

Registered in April this year, SWP has set its eyes on the six seats allocated to another BN component party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).

SWP, which has declared itself to be Barisan Nasional friendly will however take on BN ally PRS in Julau, Selangau, Kanowit, Hulu Rajang, Lubuk Antu and Sri Aman constituencies.

“Without helicopters, it is impossible to effectively cover these constituencies due to the mountainous and difficult terrains made worse by the absence of roads to the interior.

“These constituencies are many times bigger than some of the states in Peninsular Malaysia,” said a veteran politician who is familiar with the situations in the constituencies.

Last Friday’s crash involved the helicopter which Sng, his son Larry and SWP deputy president George Lagong and other party leaders were using and planned to use for their campaign in the 13th general election.

The helicopter belonged to Sebiro Holdings, a company owned by Sng.

Said the veteran politician, who wished to remain anonymous: “In the coming election it is obvious that the senior Sng needs a helicopter especially in the last minutes of the campaign to reach the rural areas.

“As a person who is familiar with his modus operandi, like in previous cases in Sri Aman and in Kapit, Sng deployed his helicopters to send ‘commandos’ together with some cash to the longhouses.”

The politician alleged that money bundled into RM500 each would be for a voter and another RM500 if his candidate won the constituency.

“In the meantime RM20,000 for a 20-door longhouse will be guarded by the commandos, and would only be given out after the election results have been known.

“In this way, the voters are attracted by the ‘carrots’,” claimed the veteran politician, pointing out that without the service of helicopters, he would not be able to do all these.

Meanwhile, it is rumoured that Sng and Sebiro are looking out to lease a number of helicopters.

Efforts to contact Sng, his son Larry and Lagong regarding the rent or purchase of the helicopters were unsuccessful.

Victims may sue

Meanwhile, the family members of the crash victims are seeking legal advice on whether to sue Sebiro Holdings or not.

Tunek Dingen, an uncle of Peter Ato Mayau who was one of the victims in the crash, said that the family members are seeking legal advice over the tragedy as they suspect that there were elements of negligence involved in the mishap.

As a retired search and rescue (SAR) personnel with the Royal Malaysian Air Force for 22 years, Tunek felt that several safety aspects had not been observed by the parties concerned.

“We want to know why there was no life jacket in the aircraft,” he said.

Family members of Henry Loh, who was also killed in the crash wanted to know the causes of the crash.

“We want the police to carry out the investigation and find out the cause of the incident,” said his wife.

The family members of the victims are also asking why a helicopter is allowed to be parked in the compound of Sebiro Holdings which is also the residence of the senior Sng.

The aircraft should have been parked at the Kuching International airport and to be subjected to stringent measures and regulations imposed by the Department of Civil Aviation.

“We want to know why,” they asked.

The other victim was Siti Khuzaimah Anuar.

They were on the way to Nanga Merit, Kapit to inspect a school project when the incident occurred last Friday at the mouth of Sungai Lingga, Sri Aman.


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