Monday, 5 April 2010

The plane crash on 6.6.1976 that killed Tun Fuad Stephens

By Ronnie Klassen

Ku Li Opens Up More Uncertainties?
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah may have been the last man on the face of the earth who spoke to the late Tun Fuad Stephens on the 6th of June 1976,pursuant to the controversial 5% oil royalty to Sabah.The death of Sabah's first Huguan Siou (Paramount Leader of the Kadazan / Dusuns)that perished in a "strange", fatal plane crash on the 6th.June.1976,will continue to haunt Sabahans and probably Malaysians in general for decades to come?Was the last conversation between Tengku Razaleigh and Tun Fuad Stephens on the oil royalty of 5% or was it 30%?, we will never know. Are there secrets that have yet to be unearthed?

I had the distinguished pleasure of interviewing Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah during his visit to Sabah on 2nd.April.2010 at Hyatt Kota Kinabalu,over lunch,that lasted for about 2 hours..Among those present were Dato' Dominic Puthucheary,Mazlan Harun,Thamrin Ghafar Baba and a few others.Ku Li was here as part of his nationwide roadshow,championing the oil royalty issue that has now become the focus of attention among the oil producing states in Malaysia.This was the transcript of my exclusive interview with Tengku Razaleigh.

Ronnie : Tengku,you were probably the last man on earth to have met the late Tun Fuad Stephens,prior to the fatal plane crash.Did Tun Fuad agree to the 5% oil royalty?

Tengku : I had a telephone conversation with Tun Fuad Stephens on the 5th.June.1976,and he agreed to the 5% oil royalty,since Sarawak had also agreed to a similar percentage.

Ronnie : We understand that there was an agreement between the Sabah Government and the Federal Government/ Petronas,which was to be signed on the 7th.June.1976.The signing ceremony however was deferred to the 14th.June1976,in view of the fatal plane crash.Were the contents,particularly the percentage of the oil royalty in the agreement dated 7th.June and 14th June similar?

Tengku : Yes.Both agreements were similar and no changes or amendments were made,only the signatories were different.Datuk Harris Salleh signed on behalf of the Sabah Government,in his capacity as Chief Minister and witnessed by Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Ronnie : Tun Fuad Stephens boarded a Nomad Aircraft on the 6th.June.1976 bound for Labuan at 10am.In his entourage were State Cabinet Ministers of Sabah.What's mind-boggling is,why did Tun Fuad Stephens travel to Labuan with his Minister's to meet you,knowing very well that you would be in Kota Kinabalu on the 7th.June.1976 to formalized the signing of the oil royalty agreement? Was Fuad Stephens actual intentions to meet you in Labuan to re-negotiate the 5% as he finally realized that the percentage was insufficient?

Tengku : No.Tun Fuad Stephens agreed to the 5% oil royalty and he was not re-negotiating the terms.

Ronnie : Were you joining Tun Fuad Stephens on board the aircraft that was bound for Kota Kinabalu on the 6th.June.1976?

Tengku : Yes,actually I boarded the plane and strapped myself with the seat belt.I was together with Datuk Rahman Yaakub (Chief Minister of Sarawak). Datuk Harris Salleh then came on board and invited me to accompany him to Kudat/Banggi to visit his cattle farm.I subsequently unfastened my seat belt together with Datuk Rahman Yaakub and boarded another Nomad Aircraft.

When we arrived at our destination,we were immediately requested to disembarked and move away from the aircraft.I was rather puzzled and was later informed that the plane carrying Tun Fuad Stephens had crashed in Kota Kinabalu.I felt very sad,knowing I had just lost a dear friend.

Ronnie : So, Datuk Harris signed the agreement on 14th.June.1976 on behalf of the Sabah Government or more approximately on behalf of the people of Sabah.Tengku,Sabah being an oil producing state in Malaysia was once the richest state in the country.Today as you are very well aware,Sabah is now the second poorest state in Malaysia,although governed by Barisan National.Has any attempt been made over the last 34 years by any Chief Minister after the death of the late Tun Fuad Stephens to re-negotiate,request or demand a higher oil royalty percentage from the Federal Government?

Tengku : No Chief Minister has attempted to request for an increase of the 5% oil royalty from the Federal Government.

Ronnie : Sabahans have been crying foul over the manner that the Federal Government has been treating Sabah,do you honestly think that Sabah should be demanding for higher oil royalty?

Tengku : The people of Sabah have every right to request or demand for a higher oil royalty,the question is whether the Federal Government is prepared to oblige.

Ronnie : Tengku,allow me to sidetrack my next question away from the oil royalty issue.The upcoming Hulu Selangor by-election has now been fixed by the Election Commission.Nomination will be on the 17th.April while Polling has been fixed on the 25th.April,2010.In your opinion,how would you rate the chances of UMNO/BN and the Opposition?

Tengku : The Hulu Selangor by-election will not be easy for Barisan National.PKR will draw support if it's Malay candidate is good.Barisan National will not get the support from the Malays.

With that I concluded the interview.

Have the people of Sabah been betrayed by the greed and arrogance of the past Chief Ministers of Sabah? Will Sabahans finally decide what is important and what rightfully belongs to them or will Sabahans still continue to allow the crooks that walk the corridors of power to dictate and decide the fate of Sabahans at their own desecration?

I also attended the talk by Tengku Razaleigh themed "Minyak Sabah Untuk Siapa" which was organised by the Sabah Dusun Association and the Persatuan Bloggers Sabah at the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association Hall in Penampang,Sabah.Ironically,the same Tengku Razaleigh that was so fiery and vocal in his speeches in Kelantan recently about how Kelantan was short changed,wasn't the same person.

The presence of "fully armed" police personnel at the venue was also mind boggling.Did the police special branch or UMNO play a role in toning down Tengku's "NO HOLDS BARRED" fiery readiness to expose the truth? Was Tengku Razaleigh going to disclose the truth of what actually transpired in his last conversation with Tun Fuad Stephens?Was there a hidden hand that prevented him from telling the truth?

What was hoped to be an eventful talk and dialogue about the oil royalty by Ku Li turned out to be mere rhetoric and a shamble due to poor turnout. It was not too well-organised - publicity materials were unseen,other then the banner located at the entrance of the Building,which was too small,that one needed a magnifying glass to read it's contents.To those that did attend,it was a wasted and frustrating night for many,as visibly seen by the disgruntled faces.

Nonetheless, it was a daring effort, and hopefully we can see some improvement in the near future

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