Call to reopen probe not politically motivated

(WikiSabah) – Former Finance Minister Datuk Haji Mohammad Noor Mohammad Mansoor told the High Court here yesterday that the call for re-investigation into the plane crash that killed former chief minister Tun Fuad Stephens and all 10 others on board the Nomad aircraft onJune 6, 1976was not politically motivated.

Mohammad Noor, who held the post during the Berjaya government, said the family members of those leaders who perished in the air crash have their right to say what they wanted to say and to do what they wanted to do but there are one or two million of Sabahans, including himself, who wanted to know what really happened on that day.

Mohammad Noor was responding to counsel Trevor Maringking’s suggestion during cross-examination.

Trevor had earlier on said that from the press statement issued by some of the family members of the perished leaders, they wanted politicians to leave out the crash tragedy alone and just argue on the issue of oil royalty based on the statement of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, and suggested that they were saying that this call for re-investigation is politically motivated.

Mohammad Noor was testifying before justice Dato’ Abdul Rahman Sebli in the ongoing hearing of a RM50 million suit brought by Tan Sri Harris Salleh against Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Yong Teck Lee and the party for allegedly insinuating that he (Harris) was involved in causing the plane crash.

Mohammad Noor was the first witness called by the defendants who are represented by counsel Datuk Simon Shim and Flora Dius.

Harris, 81, who filed the suit on June 6, last year, is claiming 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 employees or agents from printing and publishing further the statements and similar libel in any form or means.

Harris is represented by leading counsel Yunof Maringking and Trevor.

To another question from Trevor, Mohammad Noor said he was aware that some of the family members of the perished leaders were not in favour of re-investigating the air crash despite the purported new information by Tengku Razaleigh being reported in the newspapers.

“Yes, I heard of that but that is their right and I also have my own right,” he said, adding that as a Sabahan, he wanted to know what really happened and Sabahans also have their right to know what really happened.

“Once the investigation is on and the real cause is known, probably those who perished can rest in peace and we, also as Sabahans, would have peace of mind,” he said.

He said that until now there was no proof of the cause of the incident otherwise all people have the benefit to read the report now.

However, the witness said that he was not aware that sometime in 2009, the then Deputy Transport Minister had given the government an explanation concerning the cause of the aircraft incident in parliament.

Mohammad Noor agreed that it was possible that Harris had given a briefing concerning the cause of the air crash during a cabinet meeting that he (witness) did not happen to be present.

He agreed with Trevor’s suggestion that if members of that cabinet were not satisfied with the cause of the incident, they could pass a motion in the state assembly or during a cabinet meeting to ask for the Federal Government to make further investigations into the air crash at that time.

Meanwhile, when Yunof suggested that since Harris had contradicted Tengku Razaleigh’s account of the event prior to air crash, it would be prudent and indeed obligatory for Yong to clarify with both the plaintiff and Tengku Razaleigh before making any further statement on the matter, Mohammad Noor said, “I think the first defendant is acting, just like me as a Sabahan, to know what really happened.”

To a further question from Yunof, Mohammad Noor disagreed that the most interested group to find out the real truth on the cause of the air crash tragedy were the family members of the air crash victims.

“The victims were a chief minister and almost the entire State cabinet. As a Sabahan, I think I have the right to know what happened. The family members of those who perished have right to know.

“We should not be deprived of this right to find out what really happened,” he said.

He also disagreed with Yunof’s suggestion that since the second defendant is now out of Barisan Nasional, it has to create a new issue and no other than the double six tragedy for him to convince the people of Sabah to support him during the next general election.