Monday, July 23, 2007

Contemptible exploitation of Nuri tragedy

malaysiakini published a letter from Rozmal Malakan titled Ayah ku dan helikopter Nuri in which she, re-living her life as an army kid, described the frightening age of the RMAF’s Nuri helicopter.

She provided quite a comprehensive description of the RMAF’s fleet and her impression of how the Nuri, acquired since ‘antiquity’ is still flying when other aircraft types have been replaced.

She was of course commenting on the recent tragic crash of a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) helicopter where all six on board sadly perished. She concluded her letter with:

"Jika masa dahulu ketika Nuri masih baru, hati ku sebagai anak seorang perajurit sentiasa berdebar-debar menantikan kepulangan ayah dari operasi, apatah lagi sekarang ini seorang isteri, seorang anak menanti-nantikan kepulangan suami atau ayah mereka daripada menjalankan operasi dengan menggunakan pesawat Nuri? Fikir-fikirkanlah."

Very loose translation placed within context of letter: "Even when the Nuri was new, we as children of a soldier awaited our dad’s return from operations by the Nuri with beating hearts. What more then with an aged Nuri today, for other families of soldiers who too await the return of their loved ones in such a helicopter. Consider their worries."

Very subtle but nonetheless a veiled criticism of the use of an old Nuri aircraft.

But in an earlier malaysiakini letter by Helpless Anak Malaysia posted on Thursday, a none too subtle accusation of
Six lives could have been saved if ... launched straight into condemnation of, guess who, yes, DPM Najib for seeing 'fit to continue allowing our air force to fly the Nuris after nearly four decades in operation.'

Apart from also using the opportunity to dig at a submarine deal (involving guess again who, yes, the DPM and Razak Baginda), the letter attributed the crash and thus the six lives to the Defence Ministry's decision to continue operating the Nuris.

Can we criticise a politician like DPM Najib? Most certainly, all politicians who have issued bad policies or not issued good policies are fair game in a democratic system. But we need to ask what's the criticism about? Was there a failed policy? Have we confirmed yet (to a reasonable degree) that his failed policy had brought about the Nuri Crash?

An air crash could stem from a variety of causes, and the case of the Nuri accident is yet to be determined in a professional manner by aviation accident investigation experts.

That's right, we are yet to know whether the accident had been the cause of technical problems, structural failure, weather, procedural errors, human factors, etc, or a combination of the mentioned factors.

But we already have a pre-emptive strike against Najib.

Given that a certain political party has taken to even exploiting hearsay evidence about a (up to now, non-existent) photograph in a murder trial to target Najib, with its shameless grubbiness manifested in a doctored photograph, one cannot help but sense the usual poo-smearing bull has begun again.

Yes, I get bad vibes that Helpless Anak Malaysia's pre-emptive and highly ill-informed accusations could be politically driven. They would be akin to the pronouncements of those American frontier days' vigilante corp, where an accused was guilty until proven innocent, assuming he or she could do it before the immediate execution by hanging or shooting.

I suppose desperate times for a desperate party requires shonky desperate measures.

We all know the aim of that party’s questionable and immoral campaign has been to embarrass, and hopefully destroy Najib politically. Perception is everything in politics - truth or facts aren't important.

It is noteworthy to mention here that by contrast, the leader of that opposition party has avoided criticising PM AAB or SIL, or if they had been made, were very circumspect, just a light tap on the wrist (maybe even a friendly caress).

And I was informed that Australian viewers heard from a world renown reformist in a recent TV interview that PM AAB is somewhat 'compassionate' - how touching!

Thus the seeming selective targeting of Najib has made even more plausible the GAN conspiracy theory that we learn from Raja Petra Kamarudin Malaysia-Today.

Of course criticism of any BN leader by an opposition party is part of the democratic process, but two things stood out like the proverbial in this particular example – (1) AAB and SIL have been left virtually untouched, and (2) the criticisms against Najib have been based on hearsay evidence or as yet undetermined findings, with even a recent demand by that party for Najib to produce the alleged photograph and explain his involvement.

Now, that last silly demand may sound moronic, but in fact has been part of an ongoing campaign to blacken Najib’s name, politically of course, for in truth I doubt there is genuine interest in justice per se for Altantuyaa. Obviously the objective seems to be to maintain the sensationalising and 'rage' against Najib (and bugger the evidence) for political benefits.

And as mentioned earlier, 'ere the investigation into the accident has been completed we get a so-called expert telling us that those six unfortunate lives could have been saved if a newer helicopter type had been used by the RMAF.

The fact is that properly maintained older generation aircraft are not by themselves a safety problem. Many air forces around the world including the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have operated and still do these older generation aircraft. For example, the RAAF operated the venerable C-47, a military version of the DC-3, for more than 50 years, from the early 1940's until the last two were retired in 1999.

Then there are the (comparatively younger than the C-47 but quite old) Caribou aeroplanes which saw service in the RAAF in 1964 during the Vietnam War and are still operating today. The RAAF Caribous are a lot older than the RMAF Nuris which only entered Malaysian service around 1968. Some Nuri airframes are actually much younger than 1968, when they were bought to add to an explanding Nuri fleet in later years

So, the condemnation of Najib for allowing the RMAF to continue using the Nuri had been premature but WTF, the aim has never been about truth but more about getting Najib (but not AAB or SIL).

Such premature or politically driven allegations are immoral and unprincipled for the reason they would unnecessarily and unfairly intrude into the private bereavement of the flight crew's families, and unjustifiably aggravate their tragic distress for their monumental loss. How would those families feel when they believe Helpless Anak Malaysia’s words? So he shed some crocodile tears for the unfortunate families but alas, what a grubby letter to unscrupulously exploit a tragedy and possibly set the families' griefing into greater despair.

Yes, I regret these unconscionable political exploitations of human tragedies. They are really tactics best consigned to the gutters. It has assumed a hue not unlike the nonsensical '50 Dalil Kenapa Anwar Tidak Boleh Jadi PM' and the political crucifixion of Tengku Razaleigh because of his innocuous wearing of a Sabahan headgear.

We now witness similar contemptible campaigning by the opposition party.

So, how can such a party offer itself as a better political alternative when it wallows in the same sort of cesspool, not forgetting the unbelievable existence of a de facto leader in a party which has the brazen nerve to preach about democracy and due process.

Indeed, the acorn does not fall far from the oak tree.


  1. Hi KT,
    This is your blog, so I will be polite here :-)
    My thoughts on the Nuri, Defence Minister etc.
    Ministers ARE RESPONSIBLE AND ACCOUNTABLE for the good functioning of the portfolios under their charge. Whether there is a conspiracy against Najib currently doesn't change that a single bit. Najib has to take the heat on the high accident rate of the Nuris the same way Samy Vellu has to take the heat on the failure of the Middle Ring Road or the poor state of new government buildings.

    The Sikorsky Sea King (which we call Nuri) is considered one of the finest helicopters ever built - many air forces still operate it - safely. Marine One - the US President's helicopter transport - is normally a Sea King. The US, Canadian and Australian Airforces do not indicate an abnormal level of accidents with the Sea King. Without jumping to conclusions regarding the cause of the latest crash, it is obvious to me the RMAF has deficiencies with maintenance, pilot training or both.
    Yes, the helicopters are aging, and will require strict maintenance discipline. I shudder to think how the Nuris will survive under combat conditions.

  2. Kk46, ;-) thanks. You’ve always been polite at my blog, though civility in discussion, even robust ones, is what would be essential in meaningful intelligent exchange of views. Politeness would be a bonus.

    My posting is not about ministerial responsibility – that’s a given in any democratic system. It is about the obscene lack of due process by the very people who condemned the government for lack of due process, yet now condemned him before the investigation into the accident has completed. Is that due process?

    All air force, where pilots are trained to fly and do fly to the limits, suffer from aircraft accidents, either during training, operations or on combat missions. The USAF, RAF, RAAF, Indian Air Force and air forces of most Western nations have. But what would be an acceptable rate of accident in peacetime or during combat operations?

    There are international benchmarks but those benchmarks are of course for comparison, with local conditions and environment etc considered. An example would be the far more demanding weather conditions in Canada than that for Australia.

    But I question the premature condemnation (note I stated ‘premature’, meaning the condemnation could still be made when the facts of the issue are released by the accident investigation panel) of a political figure that’s know to be uniquely targeted by an opposition party whilst the PM and his controversial SIL aren’t.

    The party’s grubby exploitation of a non-existent photograph, brought out in a court trial and deemed as hearsay evidence, hasn’t done much for the credibility of that party.

    It is within this political context, that of unscrupulous political stunts, that I posted my criticism of premature condemnations, related to the Nuri crash, against the Defence Minister and his ministry. Let’s not forget the feelings of the bereaving families – is there no iota of common decency left?

    As before, for my posting, I am expecting the usual bankrupt condemnation of me as someone who is paid by the government to write such stuff. Only wish it’s true. I could do with a few extra ringgit.

    Some people just cannot tolerate statements of fairness that are adverse to their cause. They only enjoyed my postings when those condemned the government. But my advice is that they shouldn’t hold their breath expecting me to relent and be party to their grubbiness or bias.

  3. Further to my comments regarding the need for very disciplined maintenance due to the Sea King's age.

    This is the outcome of the Australian Airforce's very frank inquiry into the tragic crash of a Sea King during the humanitarian mission in Indonesia after the Tsunami

    Unfortunately you will never see such quality investigation in Bolehland, as Najib has already Prematurely declared that all the Nuris are well maintained. No RMAF investigation officer with any hope of keeping his pension will dare to contradict Da Boss.

  4. What an irony. We are not even at war and yet our servicemen are dying one by one, from neglect.