Kayaking accident: Should organiser be held accountable?

The kayak belonging to Madam Puah and Mr Tan found at Penyabong Jetty on Aug 14, 2019.
The kayak belonging to Madam Puah and Mr Tan found at Penyabong Jetty on Aug 14, 2019.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

While the search for the missing Singaporean kayakers has ended, the role the trip organiser/guide played in the delay in reporting the incident has not been adequately addressed.

The organiser/guide had waited till Aug 9 to make a police report although the pair was found to be missing on Aug 8 around 6pm (Mersing kayaking incident: 'We had to keep paddling, or risk drifting away', Aug 18) .

The organiser and several others had reportedly gone out on a search in their safety speedboat till 8pm, when it became too dark to continue.

The group of 13 rested overnight on Pulau Mertang Timur, where there was no phone network signal.

In the morning, the organiser went with the boatman in the safety speedboat to the mainland to get help and make a police report.

A search and rescue team was sent at around 3.30pm - some 22 hours after the pair was first found to have been missing.

According to media reports quoting the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the organiser did not seek approval from the agency or the Royal Malaysia Police for the trip.

Pulau Mertang Timur is 15km or less from the mainland. Why did the organiser not notify the Malaysian authorities sooner, given that search and rescue operations are time-critical?

While individual participants are ultimately responsible for themselves, what are the responsibilities of a trip organiser/guide?

What should participants be aware of when participating in potentially high-risk leisure activities?

Does the Singapore Canoe Federation, People's Association PAssion WaVe or any other sports associations have any advice for sea sports enthusiasts even if the activities are not undertaken in Singapore?

Sylvia Tan