Friday, August 24, 2001
By Jaswinder Kaur
Chief Minister Datuk Chong Kah Kiat today stood firm behind Sabah Parks rangers and guides who were involved in the search and rescue operation for Briton Ellie James, 17.
Elaborating on claims that Sabah Parks had delayed search and rescue operations soon after Ellie was reported missing last Thursday morning, Chong said the rangers were well trained and were experienced.
He said there was no need for anyone to query why Sabah Parks sought help from the Special Malaysia Rescue Team (SMART) several days after Ellie went missing.
“We will not seek immediate help (from SMART). We have sufficient manpower (from Sabah Parks) who are experienced and trained. We know when to ask for further help,” he told newsmen after visiting the Likas Sports Complex area, today.
Ellie was found dead by rangers at a 65 degree slope close to St John’s Peak yesterday, a week after she went missing.
The Chief Minister also said those who climbed Mount Kinabalu did so on a voluntary basis.
He said before making the ascent, climbers were already aware of what to expect.
“Climbers have to follow rules set by the Sabah Parks,” he said.
To another question, he said there was no need for others to make comparisons on how safe it was to climb Mount Kinabalu with other destinations.
The BBC had in a report claimed that it was unsafe to climb Mount Kinabalu, which is the highest in South East Asia.
Meanwhile, statistics show that at least 30,000 people climb the mountain every year.
A check at Kinabalu Park also revealed that local and foreign tourists were still keen to climb the mountain, despite Ellie’s death.
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy: A tribute to Ellie James (1985-2001)
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 2): Setback in search for girl
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 3): Signs that missing British girl still alive
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 4): â€œSpiritsâ€ had lured Ellie astray
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 5): British girl found dead on Mt Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 6): Ellieâ€™s parents set up memorial fund to help villagers
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 7): Family of British girl who died on Kinabalu to cremate her