Helicopter crash deals new blow to Najib
MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Najib Razak said "no stone will be left unturned" by investigators determining the cause of a helicopter crash that killed his chief of staff and a senior member of Umno, as officials said the helicopter and pilot were certified to fly.
"We have lost two figures who had made great contributions to the government, party and country in this tragedy," Bernama quoted a tearful Mr Najib as saying at a press conference late on Saturday.
The helicopter was carrying guests back from a wedding reception for Mr Najib's daughter. It exploded in mid-air over a rubber plantation during a heavy downpour, then crashed into the ground in the town of Semenyih outside Kuala Lumpur at about 4.50pm.
Mr Najib's chief of staff, Azlin Alias, and Jamaluddin Jarjis, an Umno Member of Parliament and former Malaysian ambassador to the United States, were among those killed in the crash.
The other four killed were identified as businessman Tan Huat Seang, the pilot, co-pilot and a bodyguard.
Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the helicopter had undergone maintenance on Jan 29, followed by a flight test on Feb 9, and was given a "clean bill of health".
The pilot, who had almost 13 years of experience, was also certified to fly, he added.
All six bodies were recovered from the wreckage on Saturday night, officials said. The black box was found at about 11.30am yesterday and was in good condition, The Star quoted the police as saying. It will be sent to Britain for analysis.
Malaysia's civil aviation department has begun an investigation and an initial report is expected within a week.
Mr Najib said he had known Mr Jamaluddin since their university days and they were close political allies. Mr Jamaluddin, a former minister, had played a significant role in building close ties between Malaysia and the US, he added.
"His loss is a big tragedy to me and I am deeply saddened by what has happened," said Mr Najib, whose private secretary Mohd Po'ad Jelani, 50, died of lymphoma cancer last Monday.
It has been a difficult week for Mr Najib, who is under fire from former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who openly called for his resignation on Saturday.