KUCHING: The state Disaster Relief committee had failed to respond to calls for search and rescue (SAR) operations when the helicopter crash on July 20, 2012 as there was nobody to coordinate the operations, claimed See Chee How vice-Chairman of Sarawak PKR.
In the crash Peter Mayau, an engineer, Siti Khuzaimah Annuar (surveyor) and Henry Loh (architect) were killed. They were on the way to Nanga Merit, Kapit, to inspect a school project when the helicopter crashed at the mouth of Sungai Lingga, Sri Aman.
The pilot, Rico Steger was the sole survivor.
See, who is the Batu Lintang Assemblyman said: “The bodies of the three victims were recovered by civilian volunteers – fishermen and villagers of Sebuyau.
“The disaster relief committee had not done anything,” he said in replying to remarks made by Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang, who is the chairman of the State Disaster Relief, committee.
Jabu had told reporters that he could not be bothered with the criticisms of the Opposition leaders who also wanted him to resign as the Chairman of the Relief committee.
“I will not resign as the chairman of the committee as demanded by the Opposition,” Jabu had told reporters.
“It is up to them to say what they want to say. The bottom line is I am always in contact with our disaster relief headquarters’. I can’t satisfy everybody, but this does not mean I am not in touch with the situations.
“As for the recent helicopter crash, I have sent my condolences to all the families of the three victims. Only God Almighty knows what I am doing,” he had said.
Unhappy with the reply, the PKR leader said: “Jabu was very evasive with his answers when pressed by the reporters for an explanation.
“I think he should personally apologise to the families of the three victims.
“He just said that he has done lot things. He does not want to say that he had done nothing to help in the SAR operations.
“I think he is being irresponsible, because we talk about people’s lives. Just say that you have not done anything and apologise to the family members and promise that you will do better in the future.
“The chairman of the State disaster Relief committee has an important job and carried out heavy responsibilities,” See said, pointing out that when things go wrong, the people expect him to come out and do something.
The Batu Lintang Assemblyman said: “It was unbecoming of Jabu to say ‘let the opposition say whatever they want to say.
“I think this is bad enough. I hope he can be more responsible in answering question by us. We want to know where he was on the day the incident occurred.
“Did the committee initiate the SAR Operations? Were there any boats, helicopters or planes being deployed? And who was in charge? Had the committee met after the crash?
“These questions need answers, but Jabu avoided them.
“It is obvious that he has failed to do anything,” he said, and asked the State Cabinet to remove Jabu and replace with someone who is much younger and more committed.
“If they cannot find anyone suitable, I am prepared to offer myself. Even if the State Cabinets finds someone, I am prepared to volunteer to help,” he said.