Friday June 22, 2012
Inquiry a hazy affair?
By CHRISTOPHER TAN
THE Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) did not invite the concerned parties to an inquiry into a parasailing mishap in Batu Ferringhi that left eight people injured.
A source said the concerned parties — the company where the eight worked and the hotel near where the incident happened — were left out of the inquiry.
It was attended by representatives from the MPPP, the police, marine police, a hotel association and water sports operators at the City Stadium in Lorong Kulit on Wednesday.
The eight was part of a group on a company trip taking part in a team-building activity along the beachfront of the Hard Rock Hotel on Monday when the mishap occurred at about 10am.
One of the eight was seriously hurt.
The source said that if the hotel and the company had been invited, they could have provided the council with a wider understanding of the whole incident.
Council Recreation, Tourism and International Affairs Department director Mohamed Akbar Mustapha could not be reached for comment.
The source also said that the council was not serious in regulating water sports activities by the beach.
“There is no proper demarcation of the designated area for parasailing,” the source said yesterday.
“What we can see now are cones placed on the beach and signage in Bahasa Malaysia.
“How can tourists understand what these cones are for?”
The source added that there were three types of people conducting beach activities along the beach in Batu Ferringhi.
“There are those who operate the business themselves, those employed by the operators to run the business for them, and the touts who work for commission.
“The touts would run away once there is a mishap. Take for example, the mishap on Monday.
“How do we know who are the operators? They do not have armbands or vests nor any safety apparatus when operating water sports activities,” he said.
He added that the operators did not even have the necessary first aid tools in case of emergency, and had to depend on the hotels to respond to the situation.
On Wednesday, council Urban Services, Public Health and Licensing Unit director Dr Judy Shoba commented that the inquiry found that no party should be held responsible for the parasailing mishap.
Dr Shoba said evidence adduced showed that the group of employees from the networking solution company were warned twice that they were in a sports designated zone prior to the accident.
“Are they trying to say that if anyone walks into the designated zone and got hurt then nobody can be held responsible?” asked the source.
He added that parasailing by the beach was hazardous, as there was a lot of mobility.
“A better option would be to conduct parasailing in the middle of the sea just like in Thailand, where they built a platform for that,” he said.
In December last year, two Australian women suffered serious injuries after their water scooter collided with another scooter, and were warded at the Penang Hospital.
In June last year, a five-year-old girl also sustained injuries after she was hit by a horse ridden by a man fleeing from council officers.
A 32-year-old Myanmar national was jailed six months by a magistrate’s court here for ramming his water scooter against a tourist from China, Zhu Li, on Feb 5, last year, leaving her with broken legs.
All water scooter and parasailing activities in Penang were temporarily banned on Sept 6 last year, following the spate of accidents.
However, the ban was lifted three weeks later after the state government reached an agreement with the MPPP, water sports operators and hoteliers on beach zoning for water sports.
Several water sports operators have also had action taken against them by authorities for ignoring safety issues.