Cabinet to consider declassifying report on Sabah Double Six air tragedy

STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan.

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan is hoping the federal Cabinet will finally agree to declassify the investigation report on the Double Six air crash.

Kitingan told FMT, when contacted today, that the Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook, in a written reply to a question by Kitingan in Parliament, said the proposal to declassify the investigation report will be reviewed by the government.

The ministry will inform Kitingan on the decision and any further action to be taken once it gets the approval from the federal Cabinet.

The Double Six tragedy refers to the air crash involving a GAF N-22B Nomad of Sabah Air, which took place on June 6, 1976 in Kota Kinabalu.

The tragedy killed all 11 people onboard, including Sabah’s chief minister Fuad Stephen. Fuad’s party, Berjaya, had won the state election just 53 days prior to the tragedy.

He and his entourage, which included four ministers as well as his son, were on the way back to Kota Kinabalu from Labuan when the plane crashed in shallow water near the Kota Kinabalu airport.

Kitingan, who is also Keningau MP, welcomed the positive response from the ministry and hoped a decision will be made at the earliest Cabinet meeting.

The letter written by the Government Aircraft Factories manager to all members of the company about the investigation on the crash in 1976

“This will put both the families and the departed at peace, finally. With the declassification of the investigation report, the truth of the tragedy will finally be revealed.

“I also hope the report will put to rest all the issues and questions on the Double Six tragedy,” he said.

Although Loke did not specifically give any deadline, Kitingan said he is hopeful it would be done as soon as possible.

“I hope the government will not drag this on for years again. I will write a letter to follow up on this,” he said.

On the 43rd anniversary to remember those who perished in the crash last month, Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew said it was up to the federal ministry whether or not to declassify the report.

She claimed many in the government and the opposition supported the call to publicly reveal the investigation report but acknowledged that the federal government may have its own reasons not to reveal the details.

The crash was investigated by Australian authorities but the investigation report, entitled “G Bennett — Sabah Air Nomad — Report by Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) investigation team on a crash of Nomad aircraft in Malaysia 9M-ATZ on 6 June 1976” had remained classified to this day.

According to an excerpt of the report though, a manager of the company that manufactured the aircraft, in a letter, had instructed all members of the GAF not to issue any statement on the matter.

However, he also implied there was no need to worry that the crash could have been due to a failure of the aircraft.

Previously, unofficial statements from various sources had stated that the crash was due to either human error or overloading.