Indonesia to probe Lion Air after deadly plane crash

The budget carrier has been a regular target of complaints about poor service, unreliable scheduling and safety issues. (Reuters)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Indonesia to probe Lion Air after deadly plane crash

  • The budget carrier has been a regular target of complaints about poor service, unreliable scheduling and safety issues
  • A week after the disaster, there is still no answer as to what caused the crash

JAKARTA: Indonesia is to launch a “special audit” of Lion Air’s operations in the wake of last week’s deadly crash that killed 189 people, the government said Monday.
The budget carrier has been a regular target of complaints about poor service, unreliable scheduling and safety issues, including a fatal 2004 crash.
That safety record has been under the microscope since a new Boeing 737-Max 8 plunged into the Java Sea just 12 minutes after taking off from Jakarta last Monday.
“We will...conduct a special audit of the crews’ qualifications and staff communication,” transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi told reporters Monday.
“This is a preventative measure ... (The accident) is a very expensive lesson for us.”
Civil Aviation authorities in the United States and Europe were also being consulted for their help in the probe, he added.
Meanwhile, authorities have extended their search as they collect more body parts and shattered debris from the spot where the plane crashed during a routine one-hour flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang.
Scores of body bags filled with remains have been collected and sent for DNA testing, but so far just 14 people have been identified.
Search and rescue agency head Muhammad Syaugi tearfully apologized Monday as relatives’ clamor for answers grew louder, with accusations that the pace of recovery is lagging.
“We are not perfect human beings,” he said, sobbing. “We have flaws, but we doing the best we can.”
The Lion Air investigation comes after Indonesia’s government ordered an inspection of all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in the country.
All were found to be airworthy although two required repairs for “minor” problems.
The ministry had previously removed several Lion Air executives and technicians, saying they were needed to help authorities in the investigation.
A week after the disaster, there is still no answer as to what caused the crash.
Divers have pulled the plane’s flight data recorder from the water, but are still hunting for the cockpit voice recorder — a key device that could provide clues to what caused the almost brand-new plane to plunge into the sea.
Lion Air’s admission that the doomed jet had a technical issue on a previous flight — and the captain’s request to turn back to the airport minutes before its fatal dive — have raised questions about whether it had faults specific to one of the world’s newest and most advanced commercial passenger planes.
But the accident has also resurrected concerns about Indonesia’s poor air safety record, which until recently saw its carriers facing years-long bans from entering European Union and US airspace.


Bosnia swears in a three-man presidency dominated by nationalists

Updated 35 min 1 sec ago
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Bosnia swears in a three-man presidency dominated by nationalists

SARAJEVO: Bosnia swore-in its three new presidents on Tuesday, with all eyes on Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik, who will be the first to take the helm of a government riven by ethnic divides.
The three men will rotate seats every eight months under the complex peace deal that ended Bosnia's 1990s war and split power between its three main groups: Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), Serbs and Croats.
In October voters chose nationalists to represent the first two communities, in a sign of how tribalism continues to shape politics more than two decades after the war.
The three men took their oaths inside Sarajevo's Presidency building before several dozen ambassadors and politicians.
Dodik, a pro-Russian politician who is sanctioned by the US, will co-lead with Bosnian Muslim president Sefik Dzaferovic, who hails from the nationalist conservative SDA party, and Croat president Zeljko Komsic.
Komsic, a Social Democrat, is an outlier among the two nationalists and has called for a "Bosnia of citizens" that would transcend communal divisions.
But he is already facing attacks from the main right-wing Croat party that accuses him of betraying his people and now threatens to obstruct activity in parliament.
"It is currently very difficult to find a common denominator between Dodik, Komsic and Dzaferovic for constructive work," Bosnian political journalist Ranko Mavrak said in a radio interview.
"These three will have to decide whether they want to act as a body that seeks points of agreement or creates problems," he added.
While the Dayton Peace Accords that designed Bosnia's power-sharing arrangement ended a devastating war, critics say the system has entrenched communal divisions and hampered effective governance.
The country's unwieldy government is further complicated by two separate administrations in its highly-autonomous sub-regions: one for Serbs and one shared by Croats and Bosnian Muslims.
Those so-called 'entities' are strung together by weak central institutions.
Dodik's elevation to the top office could mark another blow to the fabric of a country he has previously skewered as a "failed concept."
The firebrand led Bosnia's Serb-run half for over a decade and periodically threatened to hold a referendum on its secession.
Last year the US placed him on a blacklist for undermining the country's peace agreement.
The 59-year-old seemed to soften his tone slightly after he was elected to the national presidency, saying he wants to work with Bosnian Croats and Muslims "in the interest of all."
On Tuesday he repeated his assurance that he did not want to "act to the detriment of anyone" and wished for "effective cooperation".
Political analyst Tanja Topic said the politician appeared to be making a "conciliatory gesture," though "it is still difficult to say whether Dodik will be constructive and whether he will work in the interest of the state."
A day earlier Dodik had repeated his demands to undo parts of the Dayton Peace Accords, including shutting down the office of the High Representative -- an international envoy that has been sent by the UN since 1995 to oversee the peace deal.
"My policy is not changing, it's just my workplace that's changing," he said on Monday.
Among ordinary Bosnians, there is little hope for major changes in a paralysed political system that has allowed corruption to flourish and stalled economic reforms for years.
Unemployment affects up to one third of the country, where large numbers are migrating abroad for work.
"There's nothing more to expect here," said Almir Korjenic, a 32-year-old applying for a work visa at the Slovenian embassy, summing up a widespread sense of political fatigue.
"(The politicians) fought each other before the elections to position themselves well after the elections and resume looting the country," he said.