Real cause of air crash never known - Yong
KOTA KINABALU, Dec 23, 2011: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Seri
Panglima Yong Teck Lee told the High Court here yesterday that he was only
asking the relevant authorities to re-open the air crash tragedy file and
re-investigate as the formal investigation report and the real cause of the air
crash has never made known to the public.
New Page 1
Yong, 53, said that in his press statements, he had never even once made any
reference to the plaintiff Tan Sri Harris Salleh as he alleged.
"It is a well-known fact by the public and the people of Sabah that the formal
investigation report and the real cause of the air crash are never released to
the public and the people of Sabah despite concerns and questions by the people
on what was the real cause of the incident," he said, adding that he was not the
only one who raised the issue for re-investigation into the incident.
The former chief minister testified that the newspaper reports which Harris
alleged were defamatory to him was basically a call by him (Yong) for the air
crash tragedy known as the "Double or Triple Six Tragedy" to be re investigated.
"The reason is, so that all doubts about the true causes of the crash are
removed," he said.
Yong was testifying before Justice Dato' Abdul Rahman Sebli in the on-going
hearing of a RM50 million suit brought by Harris against him and the party for
allegedly insinuating that he (Harris) was involved in causing the plane crash
which killed former Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and all 10 others on board
a Nomad aircraft on June 6, 1976. Harris, 81, who filed the suit on June 6, last
year, is claiming for general damages, aggravated and exemplary damages of not
less than RM50 million to be assessed separately against Yong and SAPP as the
first and second defendants respectively.
He is also seeking an injunction to restrain the defendants whether by
themselves or their servants or employee or agents from printing and publishing
further the statements and similar libel in any form or means.
Harris is represented by counsel Yunof Maringking and Trevor Maringking while
Yong and the party are represented by counsel Datuk Simon Shim and Flora Dius.
In that newspaper reports, Yong said he was also commenting on the revelation by
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that the Usno-led government under the late Tun Datu
Mustapha Datu Harun in 1975 was unwilling to sign the petroleum agreement and
this had revived a relevant issue in Malaysia federalism, the intrusion of the
Federal Government on uncooperative state governments.
"I was again commenting that normally it is proper to re-open an investigation
into an old accident if new information surfaces.
"I also said that maybe nothing new would come out of the re-investigation or
maybe something big and depths of history," he said.
He said the government had decided in a few other cases in which public
inquiries were conducted because the public demanded for them.
"For example in the case of V.K Lingam Video Clip and the death of Teoh Beng
Hock because they involved the interest of the public," he pointed out.
Yong said, the government even formed an independent commission to investigate
incidents which involved abuse of powers by the police force.
He said he and the plaintiff have political differences but he has never made
any disrespectful statements on the plaintiff.
Thus, he said he was merely making fair comments in response to Tengku
Razaleigh's statement during his talk at KDCA on April 2, 2010, which was
published in the Daily Express with regards to the ill-fated aircraft that
"It was Tengku Razaleigh who made the statement that he and two others were
already on board the ill-fated aircraft but the same left the said aircraft due
to the last minute invitation by the plaintiff to board another plane to Pulau
Banggi, Kudat. I did not make that statement.
"In response to that statement, I commented that for so long nobody really knew
about the cause of the air-crash, I said that proper investigation should be
made so the people would know what really caused the crash," he said.
Yong pointed out that there were a few theories of the incident.
"Some said it was caused by sabotage, some said it was because of pilot error,
some said because of overloading and some said it was because the Nomad plane
"However, the official investigation report of the cause of the crash has never
been released," he said, adding that these theories were discussed in some books
like the books of "The Sabahan - The Life and Death of Tun Fuad Stephen" and
"The Harris Salleh of Sabah".
"I also think that my party and I were merely exercising out rights of freedom
of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution to call for a
re-investigation into a very significant event in response to the revelation of
the personal account of Tengku Razaleigh before the air crash. He was there
before the plane flew," he said.
Yong told the court that if a public inquiry or re-investigation is conducted,
there will be a witness who can testify on the conditions of the plane and of
the passengers at that time and that the plaintiff can also be called to testify
on his own account of the event.
Earlier in the proceedings, Yong told the court that he had an appointment at
Tengku Razaleigh's office on Nov 14, and Dec 8, in Kuala Lumpur.
He said in the first meeting on Nov 14, they talked about his (Tengku
Razaleigh's) speech and informed the latter that arising from his speech and the
news reports, he was now being sued by the plaintiff in respect of what he
(Yong) said in responding to the speech.
Asked by Simon on whether Tengku Razaleigh did say anything about his speech,
Yong said, "Yes." Yong added that Tengku Razaleigh's memory of his speech and
the June 6, 1976 air crash itself was very clear.
"Since we were both seated in his office, he was gesturing like putting on the
seat belt and he described how the plaintiff had gotten into the plane and
invited him to visit a cattle farm in Kudat and he said that he was very sad to
lose friends who died in the subsequent air crash," Yong said.
In the second meeting, Yong said, he informed Tengku Razaleigh that the
defamation trial had started and that they wanted him to be as a defence
"He was reluctant saying that he is very busy," he said, adding that during the
meeting, Tengku Razaleigh reconfirmed what he had said at the forum on April2,
Yong said that Tengku Razaleigh was also aware of the two books, namely "The
Sabahan - The Life and Dearth of Tun Fuad Stephen" and "Harris Salleh of Sabah"
but said the authors of the books never interviewed him.
Yong told the court that he showed Tengku Razaleigh the transcript of the
latter's speech and also wanted to personally pass him the subpoena.
He said as they left his office, he passed a copy of the subpoena together with
a covering letter from the legal firm with his (Tengku Razaleigh) officer who
was also the officer who arranged the appointment.
Yong also told the court that he had to cancel his arrangements to fly to Kuala
Lumpur for, a rescheduled interview with Tengku Razaleigh which was supposed to
be held on Dec 14, 15, and 16 as he was outstation.
Meanwhile during cross-examination by Trevor, Yong told the court that it was a
sufficient account of what happened on June 6, 1976, much more than a passing
remark in Tengku Razaleigh's oil royalty speech in KDCA.
He said the remarks itself generated public interest.
To another question from Trevor, Yong said, the various possibilities or causes
on how the airplane crashed should be re-investigated.
He also said that everybody knew the facts of Tengku Razaleigh and two others
not in the ill-fated plane but the facts of Tengku Razaleigh and two others
leaving the plane at that moment before departure were not known.
"As I said since three passengers have left the plane, the issue of overloading
should be re-opened for investigation, irrespective of the cargo," he said.
By The Borneo Post