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  • Wartawan Nabalu News

Penampang fire tragedy: Conduct investigation and explain in Parliament - Phoong


13 Sept 2021

By Wartawan Nabalu News


KOTA KINABALU: DAP state assemblyman for Luyang, Phoong Jin Zhe has called on the Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Reezal Merican to conduct an investigation on the recent Penampang fire tragedy that claimed the lives of four family members and provide an explanation in the Parliamentary sitting.


He said this is not only to uphold justice for the deceased but also to prevent any similar incidents from repeating in the future.


It was recently reported by the media that firemen arrived late at the location due to miscommunication about the address given by callers.


Phoong stated that a resident of the housing area, Chai, has reached out to him and claimed that reports made by the fire department are certainly false and that it has been confirmed by another neighbour, Angel, in an article published by Daily Express on Sept 13.


“According to Chai, he made a call (to the fire department) at 2.48am that lasted for six minutes and thirty seconds. Earlier on, the assistant fire commissioner stated that according to protocol, the information would be channelled to the operations centre of the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department.


"This is clearly inefficient as the information has to be channelled to various departments which would increase the risk of communication breakdown.


“Chai further clarified he mentioned 'Taman Hungab, Penampang' (the location of the fire tragedy) numerous times throughout the call and was firm that he did not provide incorrect address information to the call centre. The dispute then arose as Angel also claimed she gave the correct address to Sembulan fire station.


“If that is true, the fire department must not run away from accountability and investigate whether there was a communication error and revise the protocol if necessary," he said in a statement today.


Meanwhile, he said Chai mentioned that the firemen did not arrive at 3.04am as claimed by the fire department.


Quoting Chai, Phoong said the concerned neighbour has made another call to the MERS 999 call centre at 3.04am that lasted for two minutes and 37 seconds and that the firefighters only arrived after the call.


“This has also been proven by Angel. If Chai and Angel are not lying and they have no reason to, the fire department must explain to the public, we are not discussing time error but the lives of four that are sacrificed in the tragedy."


Quoting Angel’s comment published by Daily Express on Sept 13, Phoong said: “If Chai was wrong and really gave any false information, what about Angel? She made calls to various fire departments namely Penampang and Sembulan. She felt helpless as she had to make up to seven calls until firefighters attended the fire site.


“After hearing further clarification from Chai today, I demand the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to conduct an investigation for an explanation in the current Parliament sitting over the recent Penampang fire tragedy, reveal the truth and return justice to the deceased," he stressed.


Phoong who is also the Pakatan Harapan Sabah Youth Chief also seconded the call of leaders from both the Opposition and the government to reform and decentralise the emergency call system.


Currently, there are only three MERS 999 call centres - in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Melaka. As an equal partner to Sarawak and Peninsular, he said Sabah should have its own call centre.

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