Authorities must probe helicopter incident — Abdul Aziz

Abdul Aziz Isa

KUCHING, Aug 6: Democratic Action Party (DAP) Batu Kitang chairman Abdul Aziz Isa has insisted the authority to probe the helicopter incident involving assistant minister Datuk Snowdan Lawan.

He believed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) and state Education Department should step in to investigate the incident, where a helicopter carrying Snowdan had landed at SK Sacred Heart Semeba and caused some minor damages at the school.

“I was taken aback by the recent statement made by Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports, Datuk Snowdan Lawan, who claimed that the minor damages to the guardhouse and signboard at SK Sacred Heart in Kampung Semeba here, allegedly caused by the helicopter landing on Aug 4, have been amicably resolved and that he considered this matter closed,” Abdul Aziz said in a statement.

“The assistant minister can claim that the issue has been amicably resolved between him and the school management but is he in the position to claim that the matter is closed entirely? Is he above the law?” he added.

Abdul Aziz, who is also special assistant to Sarawak DAP chairman and Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen, pointed out that landing a helicopter in an unpaved school field, which was within close proximity to several villages, can only be justified in times of emergency.

“Snowdan has put the safety of a primary school at risk. I’m sure he is fully aware that Kampung Semeba is merely 15 kilometres from Kuching City.

“In fact, it’s just 10 kilometres or a 15-minute drive from the Kuching International Airport (KIA), where a helicopter can be landed safely,” he said.

Abdul Aziz added that landing a helicopter at the school to attend a party function does not qualify for an emergency.

“Can anybody clarify that the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) function held at Kampung Semeba was considered an emergency?” he questioned.

He added that Snowdan’s alleged request for the pilot to drop him off at the school to attend the function was selfish, unprofessional and potentially breaking the rules and good practice of the civil aviation laws.

“MACC should step-in to investigate if the taxpayers’ money are being used to rent the helicopter to attend a political function,” he said.

Snowdan had responded to the issue, which was viraled in social media, saying that he was on his way back from Betong and as the route to Dewan Kampung Semeba was along the way, he cordially requested if the pilot could drop him off at the school.

He explained that it was probably due to the strong wind from the helicopter blades that caused minor damage to the rusty zinc roof of the guardhouse located at the school’s entrance, as well as and the small school signboard.

Snowdan added that he went to the school the next day with his officers and met the school teachers, staff and representatives of the Padawan District education officer to assess the damage.

According to him, all parties amicably agreed with the replacement of a new roof and the school’s signboard.

In addition, Snowdan pledged RM5,000 for the school’s Parent Teacher Association, whereby RM3,000 for upgrading its sports facilities and RM2,000 for the school library. — DayakDaily