Re-Think The Conditional MCO, Please

A stretch of vehichles queue for inspection at a police roadblock ereted to combat the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak at Jalan Kuala Kangsar, Ipoh – RONNIE CHIN/The Star

Locking down a country is an expensive exercise, no doubt.  After 45 days and almost RM63 billion loss made, the government has decided to loosen the Movement Control Order (MCO) a bit to kickstart the economy.

The announcement of a Conditional MCO (C-MCO) by the Prime Minister was made as part of his Labour Day speech.  Most sectors of the economy will be allowed to operate again on Monday 4 May 2020, except those that involve services where physical contact cannot be avoided, or where crowd control is virtually impossible.  Restaurants are allowed to operate as long as they meet requirements such as checking the body temperature of customers, prepare a registry for customers to leave their contact details in case contact tracing is required, maintaining a 2-meter distance between tables, and place lines on the floor for customers to queue before paying their bill.

Offices, too, should produce their own Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and prepare physical health risk mitigation measures such as providing body temperature checks, separating cubicles, common area and items cleaning procedures, flexible working times so that workers do not all come to the office at the same time, and so on.

For those who are health-conscious, they can now resume jogging, or riding their bicycle, play tennis, badminton or even golf – as long as social distancing is maintained and not done in a large group.

Some say it is high time that the government returns the responsibility of not spreading the virus back to the public.  After all, it is not like the virus is going to go away in such a short time.  It will take another two years before the war against COVID-19 can be won.  Therefore, we should learn to live with it.  Just follow the recommendations: maintain your social distance and wash your hands thoroughly more frequently.

The only problem is rules and regulations to Malaysians are like bicycles are to fish.  They just don’t care.  Almost immediately after the announcement was made, traffic on the road increased, parents took their children out to do groceries, some are already without face masks.  Wet markets no longer see social distancing.  Videos and photos of the Batu Berendam Wholesale Market, the Sumayyah Market in Tumpat, and the Taman Maluri Wet Market showed that it was free for all again.  That night and even last night, cars were back on the roads while motorcycles raced through the wee hours of the morning. And to top that all off, a policeman was killed by a speeding Toyota Hilux driven by a drunk driver!

I understand that it is costing the government in the region of RM2.4 billion for every day that the economy is under a lockdown.  I understand the need to kickstart the economy so that money could be made and jobs could be saved.  But pray tell, how does playing tennis or going jogging help kickstart the economy?

The announcement of the implementation of the Conditional MCO was made on a Friday, such wrong timing, because the implementation starts the following Monday.  There is not enough time for companies to have SOPs and physical health risk mitigation steps in place.  I do not know why is there a rush to get things done but this is just like that stupid decision to allow barbers and hairdressers to operate – a decision that was rescinded the following day.

The government should have given time between Monday 4 May to Friday 8 May for these measures to be in place first and announce the first day of work as Monday 11 May instead.

It is also good that restaurants are allowed to open, but dining-in is really not necessary.  Most restaurants have remained open since the start of the MCO to allow operators to deliver food to customers or for them to do self-pickup.  Yes, sales must have been a lot less than normal then, but how many tables and chairs can a restaurant have with social distancing being a prerequisite?  The whole idea of an MCO is to reduce exposure to the Coronavirus.  People will be going back to work and will definitely need to eat.  Therefore, I think it would be wiser to maintain restaurant operations for takeaways and deliveries as the volume of sales will go up anyway.  That would help reduce the exposure to the Coronavirus.

According to Dr Phillippa Lally, a Senior Research Fellow at the University College’s Behavioural Science and Health department, it takes more than two months before a new behaviour becomes automatic – 66 days to be exact.  What it means is that it takes 66 days for this new habit of wearing face mask, washing of hands for more than 20 seconds, social distancing and so on would take 66 days before it becomes a habit.

For that reason, during the first three months of military training no recruit or officer cadet are allowed to have visitors or go on outings because new values are being grinded into them.  Once these values have become a new habit, they are allowed some freedom.  These new habits will only become a lifestyle in six months, the time that they are allowed to graduate.  For officer cadets, they spend another six months being turned into officers from mere soldiers.

Even Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit agrees that the Conditional MCO has been introduced too early.  Citing the 95 local transmissions out of 105 new cases on Saturday, the Nipah virus expert said that there are still too many local transmissions for the government to relax the MCO.

The academician who was involved in the discovery of the Nipah virus in 1998 said in a press statement that he does not object to the loosening of MCO, but the relaxation is far too much and too soon.

“With the relaxation of MCO, there is every likelihood of a surge of new clusters and cases. Can we really cope with increased testing and contact tracing?

“Can we empower and engage the community to do their part in preventing the spread of the coronavirus?” he asked.

He expressed concerns that if the country faces a resurgence of cases, the MCO would have to be reinstated and what had been undertaken would be wasted.  Already on Sunday 3 May, we are seeing 122 new cases, with only 52 imported cases while 70 others are local transmissions.  There were two deaths as well.

The government should seriously re-think this Conditional MCO and not bow down to any pressure given by any quarter.  It was doing very well with its way of handling the COVID-19 crisis and citizens sang praises for it, until the PM decided to announce the Conditional MCO.

(This article was first published by The Mole )

Lion Air Flight JT610: An Over-Reliance On Intrumentation?

The Lion AIr Boeing 737-MAX 8 (PK-LQP) that crashed in the Java Sea on 29 Oct 2018

LION Air Flight JT610 went down in the Java Sea 13 minutes after departing from Jakarta. It is very highly unlikely that any of the 189 souls on board had survived.

This tragedy mark’s the 14th incident in Lion Air’s 18 years of operation, an unimpressive air safety record with an average of one incident in every 16 months.

The aircraft that went down was a spanking new Boeing 737-8MAX delivered to the airline last August.

The aircraft first flew on the July 30 2018 and was powered by two CFM International LEAP-1B engines.

However, it suffered from a faulty airspeed indicator during a flight on the night before the fateful flight.

The airline’s engineers claim that the fault had been corrected before the aircraft was allowed to fly. But 12 minutes into the flight the cockpit crew requested to return to base without describing the nature of the emergency it was facing. They never made it back.

While it is still too early to tell for JT610, blocked pitot-static port have contributed to many airliners going down; the previous crash being the Saratov Airlines Antonov An-148 Flight 6W703 on February 11 2018, killing 71 people. It also contributed to the crash of Air France Flight AF477 in the Atlantic Ocean on June 1 2009.

When a static port is blocked, the on-board instruments will give false readings. False readings caused pilots in flights AF447, 6W703, and Birgenair Flight 301 and Aeroperu Flight 603 to react erroneously.

In the case of Flight 603, problem started just two minutes after take-off. There was confusion between the pilots.

Within six minutes, the pilot said: “We don’t have controls. Not even the basics.” The altimeter showed that they were still on the ground, while the three was no airspeed indication.

The above all happened in new generation aircrafts where computers and automation were incorporated to lessen the burden of its flight crew thus increasing the crews’ reliance on automated flight systems.

The FAA has directed airlines to include a blocked pitot tube scenario in simulator trainings to familiarise pilots with the condition.

But how much training is given to pilots? The bare minimum as required by regulations?

Out of the 14 incidents involving Lion Air’s fleet, only four can be attributed to technical errors. The other 10 were due to pilot errors, with wrong flap settings for take-offs and landings, and runway excursions being the top most incidents.

Lion Air, as did most other Indonesian airlines, was once slapped with a ban from the US and European Union’s airspace due to safety concerns. The last Indonesian airlines on the list only had their removal from the list in June of this year.

Indonesia is in the Aviation Safety Network’s list of top 10 countries with the most fatal air accidents – at number nine with 98 fatal accidents that resulted in the deaths of 2,035 people.

How much emphasis is given to the flight crew coordination and conflict management training?

In an incident involving Adam Air Flight 574, the flight crew became too preoccupied with troubleshooting the Inertial Reference System (IRS) that no one was actually flying the aircraft.

When either one of them inadvertently disengaged the autopilot that caused the aircraft to go into a steep bank, both pilots had become spatially disoriented. To add salt to injury, Adam Air’s pilot training syllabus did not cover the failure of the IRS, and neither did any of the pilot receive any training in aircraft upset recovery, including overcoming of spatial disorientation.

The maintenance regime is something that needs a serious look into.  In the four incidents involving the technical aspects of Lion Air’s aircrafts, one was when a thrust reverser was not working and caused the deaths of 25 people, one aircraft’s braking system was not at optimum level, one landed without the nose gear down, while the other had fuel pouring out of its tanks due to non-functioning safety valve and overflow detector.

In the case of Flight JT610, the pitot-static port of the aircraft did not function properly during the Jakarta-Denpasar-Jakarta flight the previous night. A technical logbook of the doomed aircraft detailed an “unreliable” airspeed reading on the flight, giving different altitude readings to the pilot and co-pilot – a symptom of blocked pitot-static ports.

Lion Air’s engineering department said that the issue was resolved before the aircraft was allowed to fly the next day. But was it?

The flight reminds me of what happened to Indonesia Air Asia’s Flight QZ8501 in December 2014.  Both flights faced technical snags the previous night. Both aircraft were given a clean bill of health by their engineers to fly the next morning. Both aircraft were not brought down by weather.

QZ8501 was brought down, in part, by a cracked solder joint on an electronic card that caused the rudder travel limiter to malfunction.  The joint had been repaired several times before instead of being replaced. An action by both pilots, which was not recommended by the aircraft’s manual, was the final nail in the flight’s coffin.

We still don’t know for sure what actually caused Flight JT610 to suddenly drop from the sky into the sea.

Aeroperu Flight 603 flew with blocked pitot-static tubes, that caused faulty data to be transmitted not just to the pilots, but also to the Air Traffic Controller, causing maximum confusion between them.

Spatial disorientation also hit the pilots; they had no idea how high were they flying while the TC told them they were at 10,000 feet, when they were not. In the end, one of the wings struck water and the aircraft crashed into the sea.

The day after the JT610 crash, another flight taking the same route to the same destination showed its altitude upon leaving the shoreline of West Jakarta to be at 16,800 feet at a speed of 370 knots.

JT610’s system transmitted its altitude when passing the same area to be at only 5,100 feet at 318 knots. Its data showed that it was flying at 5,200 feet at 334 knots when the flight crew informed the ATC that it was returning to base.

That they were flying only at 11,600 feet lower than the next day flight in the same area could be an indication of something going wrong.  Previous flights all flew higher than 10,000 feet except for the ones that took a right hand turn after departure.

That no emergency was declared when a request to make a turn back was made seemed odd.

Had the pilots declared an emergency then, the ATC would have immediately given the aircraft landing priority and an assigned runway.  There was no such request.

Those are the issues that are floating around right now, which can only be answered by the retrieval and processing of both the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder.  Until then, your guess is as good as mine.

(This article was first published on The Mole)

Bila Rantai Dilepaskan

Selamat kita menjalani ibadah puasa selama sebulan di dalam bulan Ramadhan di mana syaitan-syaitan diikat dengan rantai.

Tatkala anak bulan Syawal kelihatan, maka berakhirlah bulan Ramadhan semasa masuknya waktu Maghrib, dan dengan itu syaitan-syaitan dilepaskan dari ikatan.

Dan dari sebelum kewujudan Adam itu lagi, hamba Allah yang digelar Iblis telah memohon kebenaran daripada Allah ‘Azza Wa Jalla untuk menyesatkan manusia dan didatangkan dalam berbagai rupa kepada manusia.

Seorang bekas menteri yang merupakan budak suruhan parti DAP yang juga bekas ahli parti PKR dan presiden parti KITA telah mengkritik tindakan juruterbang pesawat Air Asia X yang meminta para penumpang mendoakan keselamatan mereka apabila enjin sebelah kiri pesawat tersebut mengalami kerosakan 90 minit setelah berlepas dari Perth, Australia.

Kata beliau, sekiranya Kapten pesawat tersebut mahu berdoa, eloklah Air Asia menggajikan seorang Imam.

Dalam reaksi balas terhadap kenyataan Zaid Ibrahim itu, Ahli Parlimen Pasir Mas Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz menyelar Zaid.

Saya cuba mengagak bila Datuk Zaid Ibrahim berdoa kepada tuhannya? Bila saatnya?

Pesawat Airbus A330 tersebut telah mengalami kerosakan enjin di sebelah kiri (Enjin No.1) yang bukan sahaja telah mengakibatkan gegaran teruk kepada rangka pesawat malah mengakibatkan pesawat tersebut tidak dapat mengekalkan paras ketinggian penerbangannya.

Gegaran ini berterusan walaupun setelah enjin dipadamkan akibat fenomena yang digelar ‘windmill effect‘ di mana udara yang melalui bilah kipas turbin enjin yang dimatikan menyebabkan putaran kipas berterusan (free-wheeling) yang menghasilkan gegaran.

Gegaran berterusan ini boleh juga menyebabkan enjin tersebut tertanggal dari sayap, atau mengoyakkan hos minyak (fuel lines) atau merosakkan sistem elektrik yang kritikal.

Kehilangan enjin melalui tertanggalnya enjin tersebut dari sayap boleh mengakibatkan malapetaka yang amat sukar dielak dan menyebabkan kehilangan kesemua nyawa krew dan penumpang pesawat tersebut.

Kerosakan enjin tersebut dipercayai telah  diakibat oleh kegagalan struktur salah satu bilah kipas turbin enjin tersebut yang telah tertanggal dan kemudiannya memusnahkan sebuah pam minyak (oil pump) dan sistem hidraulik sebelum ‘ditelan’ oleh enjin tersebut dan menyebabkan lain-lain kerosakan.

Kerosakan seumpama ini dikategorikan sebagai satu insiden yang amat serius kerana hampir mengakibatkan kehilangan pesawat serta nyawa krew dan penumpang.

Maka, adalah berpatutan Kapten pesawat, selain meminta para penumpang mematuhi arahan anak-anak kapal, juga meminta agar mereka mendoakan keselamatan mereka semua.

Inilah yang dipersoalkan oleh Zaid kerana bagi diri beliau, ianya seolah-olah Kapten pesawat telah pasrah dan tidak lagi mahu ambik tindakan kecemasan, dan berserah kepada tuhan untuk menentukan nasib mereka pada ketika itu.

Mungkin Zaid lebih cenderung kepada menyuruh mereka berbuat apa jua yang dapat menghiburkan hati mereka termasuk mungkin juga meminum sebanyak mungkin minuman beralkohol yang mungkin dijual di dalam pesawat tersebut.

Sekurang-kurangnya mereka akan mati dalam keadaan gembira seperti mereka di dalam gambar berikut ini.

Sebab itu saya katakan, syaitan akan menjelma dalam berbagai rupa. Dan mereka bebas kembali menghasut anak Adam dengan berakhirnya Ramadhan.

Investigating The Hospital Sultanah Aminah Tragedy – Part 2

There is a huge possibility that the culprit of the tragedy is electrical fire.  In a previous article I discovered that out of the five fire incidents prior to the tragedy, three were electrical fires, the last incident bekng on the 15th October 2016. What I discovered next is alarming:

A Harian Metro headline of a scoop that was first exposed by TV9’s daring and no-nonsense senior broadcast journalist Zulhazri Abu Bakar

We wonder if fire prevention and electrical safety audits took place at the Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) at all. The Minister of Health, in a briefing to the members of the Dewan Rakyat assured us that it has been done.

Impressive! Electrical maintenance is being done every quarter, half yearly and annually.

But look at how messy the wiring is, and this photo was taken after the second electrical fire incident that occurred in the Operating Theatre on the First Level. Let us take a closer look:

The above does not resemble The quality of electrical work done by a person certified by the Energy Commission to carry out such works. And by the look of it, this has definitely gone through several annual electrical inspection and maintenance schedules but obviously no corrective action has been taken. My question is, were the scheduled audits and maintenance mere paper exercises? Or in the words of safety practitioners – tick the boxes exercise?

According to the JBPM statistics collected between 1990 and 2002, electrical fire is the largest contributor of fire incidents. Regulation 67 of the Electricity Supply (Regulation) Act, 1990 requires a minimum of one inspection per month by a competent person of electrical installations not exceeding 600 Volts!

For larger voltage installations it is obvious that the frequency has to be increased! All these regulations are in place to provide the guidelines for building owners to perform routine inspections and maintenance to minimise incidents of electrical fires!

Obviously the concessionaire tasked with ensuring that everything is in good order, Medivest Sdn Bhd (formerly known as both Tongkah Medivest and then Pantai Medivest) had not done its job as required! The Energy Commission’s Regional Director Idris Jamaludin was spotted heading a nine-men team of electrical and gas experts into the HSA and we anxiously await their findings.

The Minister continues:

The HSA had requested last month for a fire drill to be conducted. This request I was told, was turned down by the Fire and Rescue Services Department (JBPM) because the HSA was not equipped with a fire-fighting systems control panel and nor were there the respective floor plans included in its fire safety plan! 

How could fire drills be conducted if the fire safety plan is not complete? Which begs a question from me – when was the last Fire Certificate issued to the HSA?

Word has it that between 2014 and 2016, no fire and evacuation drill nor fire-fighting training was ever conducted. The last drill and training that was recorded was in 2009! Therefore it is safe to say that the last Fire Certificate was obtained then! How is it possible that Medivest Sdn Bhd, a company that was given the 30-year concession to maintain the operational safety of our hospitals be allowed to do things against whatever safety laws and regulations that are there to protect lives and government properties? Are they not suppose to conduct at least one training per annum as briefed to the Dewan by the Minister?

This is by no means a witch hunt. This is borne out of frustration and the utter disbelief that such complacency and incompetence are allowed to flourishby especially the state health department and the top management of Medivest Sdn Bhd.

Lives have been lost! Dozens more affected by their loss and injury! Millions of Ringgits worth of government properties have been lost because some people do not do their job as expected!

Heads therefore must roll!

Investigating The Hospital Sultanah Aminah Tragedy

The ICU Ward on the 2nd floor of the HSA on fire. Six people lost their lives in the tragedy
The ICU Ward on the 2nd floor of the HSA on fire. Six people lost their lives in the tragedy
A fire broke out at the Intensive Care Unit on the Second Floor of the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Bahru on the morning of the 25th October 2016 that killed six patients and injured one hospital staff.  It was said that the hospital staff was one of the nurses who refused to leave the doomed patients undergoing intensive care inside the ward.  They had to be pulled away to safety.  One of the dead was a man who had had a brain surgery two days earlier.  Taking the patients off their life-support system to safety was definitely a Catch-22 situation for the hospital staff and this would be a tragedy they would carry with them for the rest of their lives.  The Fire Forensics team of the Fire and Rescue Services Department will now have to secure the fire scene, protect the trace and transient evidences, identify fire patterns and try determine the cause of the fire.

A Board of Inquiry will be held and with all the evidences and statements from witnesses to be made available to them once the investigation has been completed, they would have to determine the root causes of the incident, what went wrong, why they went wrong, what barriers or control measures that have failed, and what barriers or control measures that were not adhered to.

This was not the first fire incident that has occured at the Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA). There had been at least five other incidents, three of which occured in the Intensive Care Unit ward itself. On the 30th July 2008, a fire broke out at the ICU ward where the latest tragedy had occured destroying properties inside the store room. Then on the 20th October 2009, a fire broke out at the Ground Floor of the Main Block at the Phase IV Development Site Office.  In early January 2010 a fire broke out at the Southern ICU Ward. This was caused by a damaged electrical fuse. On the 17th April 2010, an overloaded power supply switch caused a fire inside the Main Block’s Air Handling Unit’s room.  And finally I was told that about three weeks ago, sparks were spotted coming out from the panel inside the ICU ward where the latest incident took place.

Given that fire is not uncommon at the HSA, I am sure that the hospital does have a Fire Response Plan as prepared according to the Arahan Perkhidmatan 1986, Bab Lapan Peraturan Am. This Arahan Perkhidmatan would require the HSA to hold fire drills and fire-fighting training as well as the inspection by the Fire and Rescue Services Department of fire-fighting equipments AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR. I used to hold one each week for the Drilling Rigs under my charge, fortnightly on board the offshore support vessels and once a quarter for each of the Mass Rapid Transit project package.

The Fire Safety Policy of the HSA would also require for a Fire Safety Team (PAKKHSA) to be formed and a Fire Security Officer to be appointed.  The Fire Security Officer would be tasked among others would be to conduct scheduled fire-fighting equipment inspections together with the entity that is responsible for the maintenance of these equipment – Pantai Medivest Sdn Bhd.  Pantai Medivest I am sure would in turn appoint local contractors to sub-contract the inspection and maintenance works out.

My questions would be:

  1. When was the last time a fire drill held?
  2. When was the last time an evacuation drill held?
  3. When was the last time the PAKKHSA underwent a fire-fighting training?
  4. When was the last time hospital staff trained on how to handle portable fire-fighting equipment?
  5. When was the last time that fire and fire fighting equipment inspections were conducted?
  6. What were the findings made during the post-mortem of each of the drills and whether they had been addressed?
  7. What measures were taken to ensure that the electrical sparks that appeared in the ICU ward three weeks ago do not recur?
  8. Did Pantai Medivest physically verify the corrective actions taken to prevent the recurrence of the sparks?
  9. When was the last time Pantai Medivest audited its contractors as part of its contractors anagement plan?
  10. When was the last time that the State Health Department audited Pantai Medivest’s performance as well as its adherence to the HSA’s and MOHs fire safety policies?

The above would be the basic question that I would be asking but of course my questions would not limited to just those. The more we find out during the investigation the more questions that would be raised.  My only hope is that a truly thorough investigation would be conducted especially that Pantai Medivest is the common denominator at all Government Hospitals in the country, and any weakness not identified would be another costly tragedy waiting to happen, and by learning nothing from this tragedy the six would have died in vain.