Tun Dr. Mahathir is greeted by supporters upon arrival in Kuah, Langkawi, on April 28, 2018. — Sunpix by Sunpix by Adib Rawi Yahya
KLANG: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has hit back on the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) and private jet charter company Vista Jet for refuting his allegations that the private jet he was supposed to board had been sabotaged.
In a statement today, Mahathir said despite their denials, both CAAM and Vista Jet admitted that there was some fluid leakage from the front wheel which would disable it from steering the plane.
“This is a very serious thing because it may result in the plane going off track when taking off or landing.
“But fortunately, the pilot discovered the leak before the plane took off and told me he cannot fly in that condition,” he said.
Dismissing Vista Air’s claims that another jet was offered as “sheer nonsense”, Mahathir stressed that he had opted to borrow a private aircraft from his friends.
“I contacted three friends. Normally they would lend me their aircraft. But this time they refused to lend their aircraft and one of them indicated that he is under pressure not to lend me his aircraft.”
Denying that the plane is his private jet, Mahathir said neither CAAM did anything nor did it provide an alternative aircraft.
He deduced that based on both instances, the first being the damaged plane and the inability to borrow a plane that there was a deliberate attempt to stop him from flying to Langkawi.
“If I wasted more time, I might not be able to be nominated on April 28. Fortunately, a friend had chartered a plane to go to Singapore. I persuaded him to let the plane take me to Langkawi.
“That’s how I got a plane to Langkawi without any help from CAAM,” he said.
Having flown “thousands of times” in private jets, Mahathir insists that he had never experienced an instance which forced the aircraft to be grounded.
“This is the first time, I have to experience damage to the front wheel of the aeroplane. At other times engine may not be functioning well and they could be repaired in time but this damage to the front wheel of the plane is a very serious damage.
“And it could have stopped me from flying to Langkawi. That this should happen on this occasion is very significant,” he said.
Vista Jet, he said, has been the same charter company that he has engaged to fly the same leased plane on many occasions in the past without any problems.
He also expressed his awareness that one of the ways for BN to stop Pakatan Harapan from winning the elections is by stopping people from being named as candidates.
“There are other attempts of course where several of the Pakatan Harapan candidates cannot be registered or nominated as candidates.
“For example not having an Election Commission pass, which is not necessary at all. I have never used the pass before and it is enough for you to show a blue Identity Card for you to be nominated and named as a candidate,” he said.
The uncontested victory for the caretaker Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, he opined was due to a deliberate attempt to stop an opposition candidate from contesting.
“And there’s the case of Tian Chua who has every right to be named as a candidate but again on a flimsy reason was unable to be nominated,” he said.
Reiterating that the jet incident was very serious, Mahathir said CAAM’s denial is not the result of a proper investigation but a denial to dismiss his statement on the matter.
“I am not accusing CAAM of doing anything wrong. I know the CAAM does not have a very tight security all over the country to ensure that planes are not tampered with,” he said.
While admitting that CAAM has a “big job” to investigate the incident, Mahathir concluded that they are dealing with a government party that is known to use all kinds of tricks in order to win an election.
“One of the tricks, of course, is to stop me from being nominated, especially me because I happen to be the Opposition leader and if I am not nominated as a candidate, this will have a negative effect on Pakatan Harapan.
“So I maintain my belief that the plane was deliberately tampered with to stop me from going to Langkawi,” he added. / Posted on 30 April 2018 – 06:55pm / Last updated on 30 April 2018 – 07:00pm / G.Surach / [email protected]