Is something very inadequate or wrong in the uniformed services training programmes to result in the death of a woman RMAF trainee pilot and a woman army recruit in a matter of 60 hours?
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Malaysians regardless of race, religion or political affiliation are very concerned about the death of a woman Royal Malaysian Air Force trainee pilot, Lt Muda Mai Elny Sefrina Jalaluddin, 23 and woman army recruit, Norazlina Abdul Aziz, 21, in a matter of 60 hours, which raise the question whether there is something very inadequate or wrong in the uniformed services training programmes to have caused or contributed to their deaths.
Norazlina, of Muar, who had been training with 300 other women recruits in Negri Sembilan, was found unconscious at 5 p.m. on Friday, while on a 12 km run at Kampung Sri Rusa, Port Dickson. She was taken to the army hospital, later referred to the Port Dickson Hospital and then to Seremban Hospital where she died six hours later at 11 p.m.
New Sunday Times (10.8.03) reported that post-mortem revealed Norazlina had died from “a hard blow to the head” and that six other women army recruits were admitted to hospital for lethargy and 22 given outpatient treatment for fatigue and dehydration during training on Friday.
Mai Elny from Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan, died when the Pilatus PC-7 trainer aircraft she was flying crashed into a rubber smallholding near Jalan Bukit Kayu Hitam-Changlun at about 12.20 p.m. yesterday. She is the first woman RMAF pilot to be killed in a crash.
DAP sends deepest condolences to the two bereaved families and joins Malaysians in wanting a full and public inquiry into the true causes of the death of a woman army recruit and a woman RMAF trainee pilot within 60 hours of each other and in particular, whether there is something very inadequate or even wrong in the uniformed services training programmes.
Norazlina is at least the seventh RMAF casualty from Pilatus PC-7 crashes, which had included:
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should explain how the RMAF stands in world tables with regard to seven deaths from a fleet of some 40 Pilatus PC-7s in the past two decades as compared to other air forces, and what the RMAF had done to reduce the high incidence of Pilatus PC-7 crashes and deaths.
The safety and security of uniformed services training programmes to the trainees has become an even bigger public issue with the ill-considered rush to implement the national service training programme, starting with 100,000 18-year-olds next year, which would involve military drills and training.
Najib, as the Minister in charge of the national service training programme, should explain what lessons have been learnt from the two deaths and what measures have been taken to ensure that the national service training programme will not be so accident-prone as to cause deaths.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman