Skip to content

Enforcement 101: National Tragedy, Investigating 28 Deaths

bus death malaysia cameron highlands

(With 28 deaths, this has to be one of the worst bus accident in the country and made worse by the fact that most who died are foreign tourists. Image source: Al Jazeera)

Sometimes it simply does not make any sense – perhaps it was not meant to be so.

Early this year, the Coroner’s Court investigating the death of Teoh Beng Hock returned an open verdict. There was outcry on this decision from the general public and politicians from both sides of the divide. The Cabinet despite earlier not agreeing on a Royal Commission is looking into setting up a Royal Commission but whether an RC would finally find the cause of Teoh Beng Hock is yet to be determined.

How do we want to investigate the death of one person in proper when we are screwing up the investigations of the death of 28 people?

Read this first:-

Universiti Putra Malaysia vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi will head an independent inquiry board investigating the high-decked bus crash in Cameron Highlands on Dec 20 last year which left 28 passengers dead.

In a statement yesterday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the Cabinet had agreed on the appointment of Prof Radin, who has a PhD in traffic safety engineering and a Master’s in transport and traffic engineering


It’s great to know that we are getting the best to head the investigations – certainly the next of kin of the 28 who died in the tragedy has every right to know exactly what had happened. And by getting the right people to head the investigating team means no stones would be left unturned in discovering the cause of the accidents where there are too many deaths.

Was the tragedy due to malfunction of the bus brakes? Or was it due to some illegal modifications of bus structure? Or was it was due to the recklessness of the driver or the condition of the road itself?

Certainly, this independent inquiry board would also come up with the right recommendations and suggestions – not that we have not heard recommendations and suggestions after major incidents involving deaths. One thing for sure, the independent inquiry board investigation is going to take considerable time, money and resources.

But hold on to your horses there! What about this piece of reporting?

An accident involving a high-decked bus that crashed on its way down from Cameron Highlands last month is due to human error and not caused by an oil spill on the road as speculated earlier.

State Infrastructure Committee chairman Datuk Ramly Zahari said police investigations showed human error was the reason for the crash which killed 28 people.

He said although the accident was caused by human error, the state government would improve the physical condition of the road at the accident site.


In case you missed it, let me highlight what I think is the deep screw to the investigations proper – “human error was the reason for the crash which killed 28 people”.

This means one of two things:-

One  – If the police already investigated and already found the cause of the accident – that it is due to human error (and not the road condition), then why we are wasting time appointing an independent inquiry board? Don’t you think it is kind of redundant?

Assuming we go ahead and appoint the independent inquiry board and they end up coming to the same conclusion, so why appoint them anyway in the first place?

Two – If the independent inquiry board is the rightful entity appointed by the Government to get to the cause of the accident, is the State and the police are jumping the gun with their analysis? What if the outcome of the independent inquiry board turns out to be something else?

Then we will end up having 2 entities with 2 different conclusions for the same accident – that would be interesting.

Shouldn’t the State and the police submit their findings to the independent inquiry board once they have started their investigations and let them decide on the final conclusion as to what caused the deaths?

The concern is that if we can’t even agree on who is going to formally investigate a tragedy that took the life of 28 innocent people in seconds, wonders how we are going to investigate the death of one man proper? Would it be a case of too many cook spoils the soup?

Please Leave Your Thoughts on the Post