Yesterday, after exiting the Genting Highlands tunnel driving towards the city, I saw a group of reporters and photographers gathered by the roadside, patiently with their cameras aimed at the hovering rescue helicopter over the hills across the road.
Six air force personnel have lost their lives in line of duty. My heart goes out to the families of the fallen heroes and at the same time I was furious. Furious at why the government still saw it fit to continue allowing our air force to fly the Nuris after nearly four decades in operation.
In the prime time 8pm TV news, the deputy prime minister, amid weeping relatives and families of the casualties, said the government would call for an open tender for a new fleet of helicopters to replace the Nuris. How heart wrenching to hear this statement, which should have been made years earlier. All in all, 67 airman have lost their lives in Nuris since their deployment.
Our airmen certainly deserve better and safer equipment in carrying out their duties. It is such a bizarre move on the part of the government to go for the luxury of procuring submarines for the navy rather than replacing the Nuris.
What irks the rakyat more is that this procurement went through another third party which has no military experience whatsoever to offer apart from its so-called consultancy service. Perhaps the government was conned and the rakyat was insulted in this deal. The purported 10% commission paid to this third party could have been saved to purchase new helicopters for our air force.
Better still, scrap the submarines procurement and spend the money more wisely on replacing the Nuris. Had this done much earlier, these six lives and perhaps that of previous Nuri casualties could have been saved.
Yes, please have a real open tender to replace the Nuris. No hanky-panky for the sake of the country's reputation, integrity and also the safety of our armed forces personnel, protectors of our country. No party or parties should acquire personal and sinful gains through deals like this.
Decision-makers, please dig deep into your conscience and do a clean and just job for the sake of the country and your families' reputations.
May Allah bless the souls of the fallen six.