Jinxed By VMY2007

I have been observing this closely and worryingly about the safety standards taken by the tourism authorities in Sabah in high risk areas such as beaches and mountains. I was unsure if this was merely a jinx from VMY2007, but all the incidents that have already claimed lives of tourists must be taken seriously.

There is no point promoting tourism concentrated only in the areas of beauty, facilities and decoration if one of the most important aspects of all – health & safety was taken lightly. Lack of first aiders and rescue personnel with poor infrastructures will definitely tarnish the country’s reputation. Tourists that realised this weakness in these areas will definitely return home without coming back again.

In less than 2 weeks after VMY2007 kick-started, Sabah was already in the shitlist by having 4 casualties consists of 3 foreigners and 1 local. This was reported in the media, but we are unsure if there were any isolated incidents which go unreported to the mainstream medias. To have 4 deaths within 10 days after VMY 2007 was launched isn’t good news at all. That’s scary!

Let’s recap;

First incident (2/1/07) – Korean tourist drowned;

Kota Kinabalu: A 48-year-old Korean woman drowned while swimming off Pulau Sapi just before noon Tuesday. Baek Mi Sook was taken out of the water by Sabah Parks’ life guards but pronounced dead on arrival at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) later….

Sabah Parks life guard, Harry Rapiti, and his colleague Mark Julius, both 20, spotted Baek experiencing difficulty while swimming about 50 to 60 metres from the beach. Both swam to get her but by the time they reached her, her body was already under water. Harry, who has been working as a life guard there for three years, said they gave her CPR, managed to pulled her to shore and helped her to a boat for the Sutera Harbour Resort jetty….

The boat reached the marine the jetty at about 12.05pm and using a vehicle provided by the resort, she was rushed to the QEH. She arrived at the hospital at about 12.23pm but she was already dead. Baek was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident, according to Harry….

Second incident (3/1/07) – Japanese tourist drowned;

Kota Kinabalu: A 63-year-old Japanese tourist drowned in waters off Pulau Sapi here Wednesday, barely a day after a South Korean holidaymaker died near the same spot. Junko Noguchi , who was on holiday with her daughter Noguchi Kayo, 36, when she was seen struggling in fairly shallow waters off Pulau Sapi.

Lifeguards failed to resuscitate Junko and she was taken on a tour boat to the mainland and rushed by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She was pronounced dead on arrival.

Third incident (10/01/07) – Local tourist drowned;

Sandakan: A tourist boat with 11 people heading to Libaran Island in stormy weather, capsized off the east coast of Sabah, leaving a woman dead. The incident occurred near the Padas rivermouth at 12.15pm yesterday. The local victim in her 40s was identified as Mariahmah Kawari. Tour guide, Robert Ernest, 26, who was reported missing earlier, was rescued at about 7.15pm.

Sandakan acting police chief Supt Mohd Zain Yaacob said the boat had left the Padas River jetty at about 10.45am in bad weather and was hit by high waves near Tanjung Pisau off Pulau Libaran.

Fourth incident (12/01/07) – Russian tourist drowned;

Kota Kinabalu:: A Russian tourist drowned while swimming at Karambunai near here Friday. The man, Boris Puchkov, 59, had gone for a swim at about 10am and after a while, a lifeguard at a nearby resort noticed him struggling in the water.

The lifeguard rushed into the water, pulled Puchkov to the shore and administered first aid. Puchkov was rushed to the Sabah Medical Centre and arrived there at about 11.10am. He was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. The body was later sent to the Queen Elizabeth hospital here for a post mortem.

First incident indicates that the safety jacket was too tight and the women refuse to wear it. The fault goes equally to both parties – the deceased and the tour operator. Health and safety cannot be compromised by ill-equipped facilities and also the problems of enforcing it as solid excuse. That is just not good enough. Tour operator must ensure that all the holidaymakers stick to the health & safety rules no matter what and as responsible tour operators they must perform checks before they were allowed to their activities. This shows tour operators aren’t strict enough in enforcing their health and safety rules.

Second incident is a mystery as the tourist was met with difficulties in shallow water AND first-aiders failed to resuscitate her? Irony of ironies it seems as I cannot comprehend what sort of difficulties that can happen in shallow water, unless the tourist herself was having a bad medical record such as heart-attack or stroke etc. I also doubt if those first-aiders are really qualified to perform resuscitation?

Third incident is pure negligence. It was obvious that the weather was bad but the tour operator insists of sticking to his itinerary. The result is – near death experience for half of his holidaymakers and himself with a single loss of life. This incident can be clearly avoided if the tour operator uses some common sense instead of risking the lives of those holidaymakers just for the sake of sticking to his itinerary. Itinerary is flexible, as it can be called off or postponed if situations are life threatening and risky. Some common sense can actually save lives!

Fourth incident was reported vaguely by the papers but I can say it was almost similar as the second incident. His death maybe is the result of his own bad medical record. Nuff said.

Anyhow, shit happens, and is best the tourism authorities start looking in this matter more seriously before Sabah and VMY2007 jinxed by the tourists forever.