(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): A week ago, I called for the resignation of Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik as Transport Minister for refusing to come clean and truthfully over the serious allegations of MAS compromising the safety of passengers with its dangerous low-fuel policy.
Liong Sik had at first categorically denied British media reports early last month that MAS had flown "on empty" into London with "just over three tonnes - the equivalent of a car running on a pint of petrol" which breached the minimum fuel requirements of British aviation regulations and then later admitting that it was a MAS aircraft after all.
Liong Sik later contended however that the MAS aircraft, which had 3.6 tonnes of fuel on board when it landed at the Heathrow Airport, though lower than the minimum reserve fuel stipulated by the British authorities, i.e. 4.5 tonnes, was enough to meet International Civil Aviation Organisation requirements.
Last weekend, MAS flew six Malaysian newsmen to London to prove that its fuel policy is in line with international standards that require commercial aircraft have not less than 30 minutes of fuel on touch down.
The MAS fleet management chief pilot, Captain Abdul Wahab Ibrahim said at 30 minutes, a 747-400 which services the KL-London route, would have between 3.7 tonnes and 4.2 tonnes of fuel depending on the aircraft weight.
He said on the KL-London route, MAS had only on two occasions came close to the 30 minutes trigger point. The first occasion was due to a problem with the fuel quantity indicator while the second was a result of delayed time in reading the fuel indicator since it was recorded at the parking bay after fuel was burnt for several minutes.
The MAS explanation is most surprising, as Captain Abdul Wahab was denying that no MAS aircraft had ever had less than 30 minutes of fuel on touchdown - i.e. between 3.7 tonnes and 4.2 tonnes depending on the aircraft weight - when Liong Sik had admitted that the MAS aircraft concerned had only 3.6 tonnes.
Although Captain Abdul Wahab had described as baseless British media reports that MAS had been flying into London's Heathrow airport with insufficient fuel in the past 30 months, the question is why MAS had not demanded retraction and apology by the British media or filed defamation suits against the British press for besmirching its reputation as having compromised the safety of passengers and the public by consistently indulging in dangerous low-fuel practices just to cut costs and maximise profits.
I do not know how the issue of whether MAS aircrafts had compromised the safety of passengers by dangerous low-fuel practices could be put to rest by carrying six journalists on the KL-London route.
What Malaysians demand is not a P.R. exercise by MAS, but a full and
independent report on the allegations which had appeared in the British
media, on issues such as whether it is true:
As MAS is accused of having practised dangerous low-fuel policy which compromised the safety of its passengers, and dare not file legal action against the British media to clear its name, and the Civil Aviation Authority and the Transport Ministry have been strangely quiet on the subject, DAP calls for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to ascertain whether there is any basis in the allegations in the British media that MAS had compromised the safety of its passengers with its dangerous low-fuel policy.
My call to Liong Sik to resign as Transport Minister remains as he has again shown that he had failed to uphold the public interest, in this case, to get to the bottom of the British media allegations that MAS had compromised by safety of its passengers with its dangerous low-fuel policy.