Sun, 1 Oct 2023


Harris calls for compensation
Published on: Thursday, May 04, 2023
Text Size:

Harris calls for compensation
Harris said the Nomad plane crash was criminal in nature since it claimed 11 people and the Australian Government, as a sovereign, democratic and civilised nation, was wrong in heeding the Malaysian Government’s request to classify its findings as “confidential”.
Kota Kinabalu: Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Mohd Harris Salleh has called for appropriate compensation by both the Malaysian and Australian governments to the families and those who suffered for 46 years due to withholding their respective findings into the Double Six tragedy as it came to be called.

“This is the requirement practised throughout the world.

The proposed claim for compensation is not for the accident but for the suffering endured for over forty years.

The Malaysian and Australian governments deserve to be sued for their actions,” he said.

He said the Nomad plane crash was criminal in nature since it claimed 11 people and the Australian Government, as a sovereign, democratic and civilised nation, was wrong in heeding the Malaysian Government’s request to classify its findings as “confidential”.

He believed the excuse given by the Australian Government that the “Malaysian authorities requested that the report be treated as confidential” is just to protect the Nomad plane manufacturer, Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) from any forms of liability and responsibility. 

“The Australian Report (on the crash) contained a minuted file note stating, “the Malaysian authorities requested that the report be treated as confidential”, which was the reason given by the Australian Government to not release the report. 

“This has been denied by Malaysia and makes a mockery of Australian sovereignty, which is supposedly not subject to instructions from foreign countries as to what to do and what not to do.  

“This Nomad plane crash is criminal in nature as it killed 11 people.

Surely the Australian Government as a sovereign, democratic and civilised nation would not resort to such criminal wrongdoings.  

“The Australian Government as reported by many papers and television documentaries, prided itself as having cutting edge technology.

By doing so the Australian Government purposely and intentionally concealed the criminal wrongdoings for the sake of nationalism and to protect sales of the aircraft,” said Harris.

He was referring to the Australian report on the Sabah Air Nomad 9M-ATZ crash that killed Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and 10 others in Sembulan here on June 6, 1976, that was declassified and made public by the Australian Government last Wednesday (April 26). GAF is the manufacturer of the Nomad. 

The Australian report followed court action by Harris against the Malaysian and Australian governments for classifying their reports as “Official Secret” and a special Daily Express revisit and video documentary in 2021 which won it the national Investigative Journalism award, and which Harris officially acknowledged as prompting his last push for disclosure at age 93.

The Australian report came on the heels of the release of the Malaysian investigations two weeks earlier, which established no evidence of sabotage, as speculated by some quarters. 

Harris said the much-awaited reports did not contain any matters considered to be “secret” and, therefore, it is not understood why the Malaysian and Australian Governments chose to classify them as such. 

“The families of the victims had suffered immensely the last 46 years, just so the Malaysian and Australian governments can ‘cover up’ reports that contain no secrets. 

“Therefore, it is important for the Malaysian and Australian governments to compensate for such suffering.

It is irregular for governments to think they can classify matters as secrets as and when they please without due consideration of the law.

The release of the investigation reports confirms there was absolutely no reason for not releasing the reports sooner,” he added.

Harris further said there were many reports that raised the question of defective design and therefore, the airworthiness of the Nomad aircraft. 

“The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) had released a 10-page report outlining such defects and withdrew all its Nomads during the 1990s.

It was also reported the Australian Government had compensated the Hughes Aircraft Company in the US the sum of US$4 million settlement for the 17 Nomads it had purchased after accusing the manufacturer (GAF) of deception and listing eight defects of the aircraft in its suit including the cracking problem in the tailplane.

“Since then there have been numerous crashes involving the Nomad that got it the accolade as the ‘widow maker’.

In 1985, the Australian Government stopped all production of the Nomad and has since rebranded GAF as Boeing Australia.

However, the damage is done and many suffered as a consequence,” he said.

Harris also said the Australian claim that Fuad sacked the most qualified Nomad pilot is completely untrue and fabricated. 

“It is not known where the Australian Investigation team got such an idea from. I have known Fuad since 1960.  

He was then a Member of Executive (Minister) and Legislative Counsel in the British North Borneo Government.  

I was then a Clerk of the Legislative Counsel.

Fuad is a kind-hearted person and would not have taken revenge against anyone, what more a pilot. 

“The Berjaya Government under Fuad was barely 50 days old when it took charge of a government that had been mismanaged with only RM2 million in the State Government account.  

“Therefore, given the short time, Fuad concentrated on putting Sabah back in order.

Nothing else. Sabah Air existed under the previous government and Fuad allowed it to continue as is. Sabah Air was never the priority at the time.  

“I knew Fuad very well as I was his Deputy at the Government and party level.  He always consulted me, especially on important state matters to be brought before the cabinet.  

“The claim that he sacked the most qualified pilot is untrue and is tantamount to insulting the good name of the late Fuad,” he said.

The Australian report suggests that Fuad may have unwittingly contributed to the tragedy by sacking the most experienced Nomad pilot six weeks earlier (before the crash). 

The replacement Captain Ghandi Nathan, who piloted the ill-fated aircraft that afternoon, was considered as not capable of safely operating multi-engined aircraft, according to the GAF investigation team. 

It also said that the way Sabah Air was operating at that time, “an accident was bound to happen sooner or later” as well as “operating illegally” as its Operations Manual although duly submitted to the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) had not been approved as required. 

“The families and Sabahans in general expected the reports to specifically single out reasons for the crash. Neither the Malaysian nor the Australian reports specifically singled out the cause of the crash.  

“Nevertheless, the Malaysian Report is more professional and in accordance with the Chicago Aircraft Accidents Convention. The Australian report contained innuendos and implied ‘Hearsay’ evidence.”

He said Sabahans and the families of the victims accept the fact that accidents including plane crashes do happen, but what Sabahans and the families who had suffered the last 40 over years want to know is why the Malaysian and Australian governments failed to release the completed report soon after.


The Daily Express’ award winning team of journalists presents ‘Double Six: The Untold Stories’, a documentary on the plane crash in Sabah (East Malaysia) killing the newly-elected Chief Minister of Sabah Tun Mohd Fuad Stephens, four state ministers and six others on June 6th, 1976. After 46 years the findings of the crash also known to many as The Double Six Tragedy have not been disclosed. Note: This series unravels information not previously available to the public, but does not in any way attribute blame for the crash on any party.

* Follow us on Instagram and join our Telegram and/or WhatsApp channel(s) for the latest news you don't want to miss.

* Do you have access to the Daily Express e-paper and online exclusive news? Check out subscription plans available.



Top Stories Today

Sabah Top Stories

Follow Us  

Follow us on             

Daily Express TV