Monday, October 22, 2007

Ferry Incident: Can We Be Even Dumber Than This?

Goodness gracious.... I have just read a letter from Malaysiakini titled Dumb and dumber over ferry inferno from Norman Fernandez.

It seems that Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said there is an urgent need for a new jetty which could prevent untoward incidents.

How profound that is Jamaluddin ... I was dumb struck for a while.

Now let's read Norman Fernandez on this "brilliant" ideas only certain people can think of:
" Perhaps the minister would like to be informed that people had died from a ferry tragedy and not from a collapsed jetty. As of yesterday, the death count from the Tioman Island ferry tragedy is six and one passenger is still listed as missing. "

Simple isn' it? We do not require Einstein to solve this equation. No rocket science. Recent Ferry Tragedy = Caused by Ferry. Notice that the word "Ferry" is at both sides of the formula?

As if matters are not clear enough, A Tioman disaster waiting to happen letter from Alicia Au was published in Malaysiakini on 12th June 2006. She described the dangerous experiences she had to go through in the ferry service that she had taken. Now, it was found out that Disaster is waiting to happen in Redang too , according to a letter by Humble Teacher in Malaysiakini .

Point 1: Police Report Lodged Few Months Before Incident
The most important point is that a police report was actually lodged. Prominent socio-political blogger, KTemoc wrote a piece of article on the letter above : Tioman ferry disaster - Ministerial criminal negligence .

No one is sure if the related authorities had taken any action on Alicia Au's report. However, everyone can be sure that a big ferry accident happened currently ( as reported by Malaysiakini ). It is completely logic that survivors want answers from the authorities. One may ask why? The answer is simple as I quote from KTemoc's second writing on the tragedy:

Point 2: Alleged Unethical Operators
" However, there is another maritime tradition which requires the captain of the ship and his crew to leave the vessel in distress ONLY AFTER every passenger had been taken care of.It

Survivors accused the crew of abandoning them when the passenger cabin filled with thick, black smoke, and giving no help to the elderly and children on board. "

Point 3: Regulator or Transport Ministry Not Doing Their Job
" You may be shocked, but wait because there’s more. A Marine Department official said the ferry's permit to transport passengers had expired in December last year and not been renewed. That's almost one year of unlicensed sailing!

So? What's our regulator doing? Look, it's a Marine Department official who said that, so was there any close-one-eye thingy at the top? "

It is no doubt that a new jetty may help in preventing untoward incident but shouldn't we prioritize according to the points stated above? Jamaluddin's suggestions are not even close to eliminate the symptoms. He is suggesting something that is totally unrelated to the ferry incident.

In order to permanently stop a problem, just like a disease from recurring, the government should weed out the problem from the ROOT, not from the SYMPTOMS. Point 3 (from above) would be used to illustrate this.

A common step taken by most authorities in the Third World would be to penalise the operator involved in this incident. It is possible that the company will be banned and the owners be blacklisted. Other operators in Tioman Island would be investigated. If the authorities are hardworking (which I normally doubt), ferry operators all over Malaysia would be inspected as well.

One question remains: Would such a move prevent similar incidents from recurring in the future?

My answer: Definitely not. Perhaps few years later some operators may repeat what was being done. After all profit is the main ingredient for any business. The lesser maintenance on ferries, the lesser money being spent. The more people being packed in a ferry, the greater the profit ! The operators would most probably think: "Why should I care? The authorities are not going to check everytime".

Therefore this makes the approach a temporary solution. The issues are sorted from the "symptoms" level. The "disease" persists.

Sorting out issues from the Root perspective, the government should create a system to periodically, preferably quarterly, bi-annually or yearly run through of a database of all ferries. A list of those expired should be produced and checks should be performed. Operators should be demerited or penalised immediately. A rule stating upon a repeat of such offense on three counts would equal to revocation of license.

From time to time, the regulator bodies @ the government should randomly check on several ferries or operators to ensure the "health" is maintained. Slap them with penalty if the job is not
done properly.

An effective and efficient complaints line with proper contact information disseminated should be created. Bear in mind that a police report was lodged previously. That is an example of poor public service. The new complaints line should not work in that terrible manner.

With regular inspection and avenue for the public to become as watchdogs, the operators would be forced to maintain quality for business sustainance. This is the permanent solution that should be adopted. The "disease" can only be eliminated when the "root" of it is removed.

If Transport Ministry Chan Kong Choy can't perform or think of a "root" solution, wouldn't it be appropriate if a fellow citizen in Malaysiakini to ask : Isn’t it time for the transport minister to quit?

Malaysia cannot afford deaths of many for the non-performance of an individual. After all, democracy calls for Utilitarian Approach, Transparency, Accountability


Anonymous said...

Aiyah, it is so simple. more pulic money for new jetty = more kickback mah! If stricter safety enforcement on the ferry operators, then enforcement officer nak makan apa?

Anonymous said...

no to survive...gaji rendah...PROUD TO TELL INVESTOR WE HAVE LOW LABOR COST......

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the guy that suggested a new jetty thought he can ferry people using the jetty? Safer too...

Anonymous said...

he is an arsehole to say such a thing but may allah forgive him bec he is an imbecile