It was a last-minute decision made by Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Shabery Cheek that probably saved the minister’s life.
Just before boarding the helicopter reported missing in Spaoh, on Thursday, Alfred Jabu pulled Shabery to another helicopter on standby to take him to Kuching.
“He pulled my hand and led me to another helicopter, fastened the seat belt for me.
“As he closed the door, Alfred spoke to me like a father would to a son and said, ‘It is my responsibilty, although I can’t travel with you’,” Shabery recounted to The Star on Friday.
Shabery, who travelled by road to Tanjung Bijat from Kuching, took a helicopter ride together with Alfred Jabu from Tanjung Bijat to Spaoh on Thursday.
“I went to visit a padi seed processing plant and from Tanjung Bijat. I took a helicopter to Spaoh. From there I was supposed to travel to Kuching on another helicopter. Datuk Noriah Kasnon and I had separate programmes.
“There were two helicopters on standby to take us back to Kuching. Instead of putting me in that ill-fated helicopter, (Alfred) led me to the other helicopter. The weather was rough on the way to Kuching and we arrived 40 minutes later.
“When I heard the news about that helicopter which I was supposed to board, I could only think of Alfred. I am grateful for him for making that decision for me,”
That helicopter crash incident did not deter Shabery from carrying out his duties on Friday.
When he spoke to The Star, he had just taken another helicopter ride to Batang Ai to inspect a fresh water fish project.