By Patrick Joseph
Two boys said to be pulled by currents while swimming in the sea national park
FOUND: Zaid’s body is taken to the national park centre
BINTULU: One of the two Form 4 students who were on a study tour to Similajau National Park, about 30 km from here, and feared drowned on Feb 2, was found about 3.45pm yesterday by a team from the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) and an emergency and rescue team on three jet skis.
The body of 15-year-old Zaid Mohd Dzulkhairi Julaihi was found some 200 metres from where he was last seen at 12.20pm on Saturday.
The other boy has been identified as 15-year-old Mohd Arif Abdul Rahman.
The search and rescue (SAR) teams formed by the police, marine police, Bintulu Port team, Shell, and Rescue 991 went into action soon after receiving news about the missing boys on Saturday afternoon.
Bintulu police chief, Superintendent Sulaiman Abdul Razak, who led the SAR teams, said they searched the jungle, beach, shore, sea, and also from the air.
“The SAR is still on, and we are using all means to locate the second boy,” he said, adding that Mohd Arif who was also believed to have drowned, had yet to be found.
On how the SAR moved, he said they used two helicopters belonging to the police and Shell, police boats and jet skis.
The two boys were among 30 Form 4 students of Kolej Tuanku Haji Bujang at Tanjong Lobang, Miri who had just completed their Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examinations last year.
Their study tour to the national park was organised by the school, and they were minded by two teachers and six senior students.
When asked why a group of 30 students were only guided by two teachers (a ratio of 1:15), Sulaiman said: “That was what we were told. We need to check further on the actual number of teachers in the tour.”
It was also alleged that the group arrived at the park about 9am that day, and walked seven kilometres through the jungle to Turtle Beach I. The walk takes three hours.
Zaid and Mohd Arif were said to be swimming in the sea, and though the water was only chest-deep they were pulled by strong currents.
Another student was said to have tried to stop them from drifting out, but he too experienced some difficulties.
A Shell helicopter based in Miri was sent to take part in the search. Coincidentally Zaid was the son of a Shell worker in Miri.
The search for the boys started as early as 5am yesterday (second day). On the first day, the search was called off due to heavy rain.
It was also said the parents of both boys were with the search and rescue team since day one.
According to Sulaiman, the search continued yesterday despite the darkness.
“The weather was kind to us, so we went on,” he said.
Everytime I read this piece, I feel sick. As if I’d eaten something foul for dinner but couldn’t vomit them out. And it’s weird considering I don’t know who they were, or their family or anything. I just know they’re students of Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang, the school I once attended for 5 years. And that’s enough for gorillas to hit the gong in my stomach.
But it’s not only that. It’s knowing they went there not knowing they were jungle trekking towards their death. It’s knowing they were only 16 years old, only in form 4, only starting to live. It’s knowing after CNY hols, their classmates and teachers will glance occasionally at their empty seats, wishing the 2 students are sitting they as they always did. And worse, it’s knowing how scared they must had been when they were struggling with their lives.
Now that it occured, questions are brought up. It was when Terence (and everyone else) asked, “How come they were only 2 teachers?” 2 teachers and 30 students, went on a 7 km jungle-trekking, wasn’t it too much? The questions make me nervous for my former school. They give way for people to doubt and raise more questions. The school’s system, the principal, the teachers. 2 students died, and the consequences are what as they should be. This time, there wouldn’t be any excuses.
Why they were only 2 teachers…for those who participated in camps organized by KTDTHB before, they should be aware that there are usually not more than 3 teachers supervising. Another why, but that’s how it usually works. Only in this case, no, it didn’t work. They should have been more teachers. That kind of camps were done before with maybe the same amount of teachers in charge and nothing happened. All went well and nobody bothered to comment on anything. But now when something DID happened, people start to dig for anything that could be the reason. Who could blame the parents? They need someone to vent out their anger. They need someone to blame and take responsibility for what had happened. And I guess the question “Why were there only 2 teachers?” sounded better than “Why did they go into the water when they weren’t supposed to?”. Nobody would be able to answer the latter. No matter how you look into it, it’s still the adults that were supposed to be resposible.
Whatever questions are raised to attack and whatever defences are thrown back, the trip took two students’ lives and nothing could change that.