Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tribute to plane crash victims (Double Six)

Dear Readers,

Toh Puan Rahimah Stephens with a portrait of her late husband, Tun Fuad Stephens, at the Double Six Gallery yesterday.
Toh Puan Rahimah Stephens
with a portrait of her late husband, Tun Fuad Stephens,
at the Double Six Gallery yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: It might seem odd that Toh Puan Rahimah Stephens was smiling rather broadly as she walked hand-in-hand with her 9-year-old granddaughter, Johanna, yesterday at the place where her husband was killed.
It was 34 years ago that she became a widow when her husband, Sabah's first chief minister Tun Fuad Stephens, was among 11 people who died in a plane crash dubbed the Double Six Tragedy.

She also lost her eldest son, Johari, in the crash.

But the 80-year-old Rahimah saw a reason to smile yesterday as she had just officially opened the Double Six Gallery, a tribute to the victims of the tragedy at the site of the crash and just a few metres from the Double Six monument in Sembulan.
About 200 people, including families of the victims, Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim and former chief minister Datuk Harris Salleh came to pay their respects and witness the opening of the gallery.

"I think the gallery is lovely and City Hall has done a good job commemorating the victims," she said, adding that she hoped more features and information would be added to the gallery.

On June 6, 1976, a Nomad aircraft took off from Labuan for Kota Kinabalu here when it crashed into the water villages of Sembulan, missing the nearest stilt-house by metres.

Fuad, along with finance minister Datuk Salleh Sulong, local government and housing minister Datuk Peter Mojuntin, communication and works minister Datuk Chong Thain Vun, assistant minister to the chief minister Datuk Darius Binion, finance ministry's permanent secretary Datuk Wahid Peter Andu, Economic Planning Unit director Dr Syed Hussien Wafa, federal finance minister's private secretary Ishak Atan, Captain Gandhi Nathan and Fuad's bodyguard Corporal Said Mohamed died in the crash.

Fuad had just led his Berjaya party to victory in the state's election a few weeks earlier.

For Fuad's youngest son, Asgari, 49, walking through the gallery on his father and brother's death anniversary brought back memories of his father and the day he found out that he was killed.

"I still remember the day quite clearly. My brother Affendi and I were studying in Australia at the time and were informed of the incident the next morning after arrangements had been made to fly us back home."

Affendi, Fuad's oldest son died last year, leaving Asgari and two sisters -- Fauziah and Faridah.

Read more: Tribute to plane crash victims http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/21balus/Article#ixzz1aP9Rq0rj

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