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BarF eFerry tragedy must be taken seriously and lesson must be learnt

Media Statement 
by Lau Weng San 

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): A thorough investigation must be carried out on the ferry catching fire while heading for Pulau Tioman, leading to the death of four passengers and a number of others suffering serious injuries and with some missing.


It was a very serious matter involving the safety and health of the public and the crew concerned.


The investigation should determine the cause of the tragedy, whether there was any negligence on the part of the ferry owner and operator in relation to the adherence to safety standards and regulations by the ferry operators, compliance with appropriate occupational safety and health practices, provision of adequate safety vests and safety briefing and instructions given to passengers in the event of any emergency before the ferry took off as well as the verification of the validity of the ferry license which was claimed as expired by the Marine Department (the ferry owner had claimed otherwise).


Investigation must also be conducted to check whether the enforcement by the relevant authority had been lax, leading to the tragedy and whether the crew members had done their best to evacuate and help save the passengers when the fire broke out.


These and other related questions need to be fully answered by the Ministry of Transport when the investigation is carried out, and the result of the investigation must be made public.


It is also report that two other ferries belonging to the company that operated the ferry which caught fire off Mersing have been seized as the two ferries also did not have the proper documents for them to go to sea.


Southern Region Marine Department director Hazman Hussein said the vessels, Seagull Express 3 and Jentayu belonging to Seagull Express and Accommodation Sdn Bhd, did not have domestic shipping licenses and manning certificates though the two vessels had passenger certificates, Hazman said.


A domestic shipping license determines the places where a vessel is allowed to operate while a manning certificate is required when a vessel needs to have qualified crew members.


This is not the first time a ferry tragedy had occurred. There were other tragedies in the past but obviously we have not learnt from past experiences and have taken the safety of the public for granted.


It is a typical Malaysian behavior that very time a tragedy occurs there will be promises of investigation to find out the causes, but whether the lessons learnt from each tragedy will be observed and practiced to prevent future tragedies is very doubtful.


After a while when everything dies down, the lessons are forgotten and we wait for another tragedy before we go though the same rigmarole.


That until and unless all ferry operators are prepared to put into practice good occupational safety and health practices and make safety a culture in the course of their operations, there is no guarantee that another tragedy will not occur in the future.



*Lau Weng San, DAP Selangor Secretary.

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