Current Affairs

Let Karpal’s ideals live on

By Lim Kit Siang

The outpouring of grief and respect by a sea of humanity at Karpal Singh’s funeral in Penang yesterday was a reaffirmation of Malaysians’ support for justice, the rule of law and democracy – the very ideals which Karpal had fought for in his whole life.

For four days, Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age or gender, grieved at the sudden and shocking death of Karpal at an accident at the North-South Expressway near Gua Tempurung.

The nation-wide grief and shock over Karpal’s death was so great and overwhelming that over these four days, the great tragedy of MH370 with 239 passengers and crew vanishing without any clue since March 8 and the shocking ESSCOM security situation with a tourist from China abducted at the Singamata Reef Resort off Semporna on April 2 were momentarily edged aside.

But Karpal, if still alive, would want proper closure for these two shocking events.

The tragedy of MH370 has entered into the 45th Day, still without any clue with no floating wreckage located after more than six weeks and no contact whatsoever after the Bluefin-21 AUV had completed its Mission 8 covering two-thirds of the focused underwater search area. Doubts are now bulking large as to whether all the civil and military search parties are looking in the right place as the MAS Boeing 777 did not end in the Indian Ocean.

In Sabah, there is no sign that the expensive “April Fool’s Joke” of Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) will cease, with the RM300 million ESSCOM shedding its notoriety as “toothless tiger” or “white elephant”.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim in Kota Kinabalu yesterday proposed a solution to ESSCOM’s impotence by creating three ESSCoM deputy director-general posts to enable it to function more effectively – to represent the three leading enforcement agencies, Malaysian Armed Forces, police and Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

This is most extraordinary – as the suggestion has come more than one year too late, as in early April last year, the press reported the upgrading of the original position of Datuk Mohammed Mantek as ESSCOM Director to Director-General, who will be assisted by four “division directors who will helm four units, namely defence, security and public order, joint intelligence and public”.

All that Shahidan is suggesting is the upgrading of the four ESSCOM directors to three ESSCOM deputy director-general – leaving completely untouched the crux of the problem of ESSCOM being powerless with “no authority to command, direct or order any action” in ESSZONE whether by the army, police or the maritime agency.

His Ministerial colleague, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has meanwhile made a completely different suggestion – that ESSCOM command be rotated between the police and the army instead of being an independent body now.

It would appear that it is not only ESSCOM Director-General who is stricken with impotence with “no authority to command, direct or order any action” in ESSZONE, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the entire Cabinet are also stricken with “impotence” as they do not know what to do with ESSCOM despite the expenditure of over RM300 million to try to make Eastern Sabah safe not only to Sabahans but also to the tourists.

It has been reported that Karpal’s accident took place at the “black spot” of the North-South Expressway between Km291 and Km310.8 where at least 44 deaths had been reported from 2011 until Thursday’s accident involving Karpal, claiming two lives.

Police statistics revealed that there were 11 fatal accidents in 2011, 21 in 2012, 10 last year and two so far this year. The same statistics revealed that more than 100 people also suffered injuries in the accidents.

What action have the authorities, including the Ministry of Works and the NSE concessionaire PLUS Malaysia Bhd, to end the 20 km of “killer black spots” of the expressway near Gua Tempurung before more lives are lost through accidents?

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