The shameful incident at Kuala Lumpur International Airport warrants an independent inquiry as conspiracy theories of 'sabotage' are rife.
A Sabah MP has called for an independent inquiry into the runway lights failure that disrupted more than 50 domestic and international flights and affected around 6,000 passengers.
Chua Soon Bui, the Tawau MP, said the government should set-up an independent inquiry to allay growing fears of a cover-up being set in motion to prevent embarrassing those in high positions.
She said the shameful incident at the country’s second busiest airport after the Kuala Lumpur International Airport warrants an independent inquiry as conspiracy theories of ‘sabotage’ are being put forward by Minister of Transport Kong Cho Ha as a possible cause.
“The sabotage theory could be just a convenient ploy to cover up something that is far more serious and damaging to the reputation of the ministry concerned, and the entire Barisan Nasional government as a whole,” Chua said.
She said questions had been raised over the possibility of negligent workmanship and inferior materials being used in the on-going work being undertaken to expand the airport.
“This can only be revealed through an independent inquiry,” she said, adding that corruption or delayed of payments by the government or non-payments to sub-contractors were among complaints she had heard about the lengthy delay in completing the upgrading of the airport.
Last week’s KKIA night flight shutdown caught many off guard despite airport authorities being aware that the runway lighting system was unstable.
Chua said that as similar incidents had happened before, there should have been a fail-safe back-up system in place and if there was such a system, questions should be asked why it had failed.
She added that as it took more than 48 hours for the Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to get the runway lights back in operation and it showed that something was amiss in the management of the KKIA.
Clueless airport officials
The airports runway lights flickered out at 6.20pm on Thursday, the eve of Hari Raya Haji, leaving thousands of passengers stranded after scores of evening and night flights were either cancelled or diverted.
MAHB has been in the firing line since the fiasco. The government has reportedly spent RM1 billion for the ongoing KKIA runway extension project which is almost two years behind schedule.
Chua who is also a vice president of the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) further questioned the crisis management abilities of the Malaysia Airport Bhd whose officials were said to be clueless on how to handle the situation as the result of diversion or cancellation of flights.
“I was made to understand that the stranded passengers who included many foreign tourists were not promptly informed of the actual problem causing their flight delay and there was not even an apology from the relevant authorities at that material time,” she said.
Passengers who had arrived for their flights hours before their flights were scheduled to depart complained that they were only informed that their flights were cancelled much later.
Among the stranded passengers were a large number of Universiti Malaysia Sabah students who were heading home and many were forced to spend the night sleeping on the floor of the airport.