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Date [ 2014-03-20, 04:49 ]


(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by Ramani Rathir = More than 10 days have passed since MH370 disappeared from the skies. On board were 227 passengers, plus 12 crew members, bringing the total passenger count to 239. This included two Iranians travelling under stolen Italian and Austrian passports.

However nineteen year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, 29 have been cleared by Interpol of any terrorist links. The other nationalities flying on the ill-fated flight were from Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, India, France, USA, New Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands.

So what comes to mind first on hearing a Malaysia Airline plane had gone missing? What are the authorities doing? It pains one as a Malaysian that Malaysia has come under flack for responding so slowly. Add to this various top officials making conflicting statements and you have China accusing us for lack of communication and information. “Chaotic’ was the exact word used. What more for embarrassment?

Next the FBI and Interpol were waxed that their offers of help had not been taken up. They also announced that very few countries made use of their international list that carried data of millions of missing or stolen passports. Does this then explain how Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza were able to get on the plane? News has now emerged these passports were stolen in Phuket.

What was unexpected was the intense international media interest that arose over the missing plane. With even the BBC descending on Malaysia and the US and Australia giving it close television coverage, our country had come under close scrutiny. The way Malaysia handled the search was like having the circus coming to town.

The international media with family members of the Chinese passengers had gathered at a hotel in Beijing. They waited for news that came sporadically and without much information, and had the relatives venting their frustration on MAS and Malaysian authorities. Telling them to prepare for the worst on the third day of the search was also not very encouraging or diplomatic.

All this while, the search was conducted as for a missing plane coming down into the sea or land. Now after close to two weeks, Prime Minister Najib Razak made an announcement that stopped short of confirming a hijack and thereby taking the drama into uncharted new territory. It had Gerry Soejatman, a Jakarta-based independent aviation analyst tell AFP Najib's remarks are "extremely difficult to understand."

After hints of a sudden mid-air explosion, catastrophic equipment or structural failure or a crash into the South China Sea, now a possible hijacking! No wonder it has left the families of the 239 passengers and crew distressed, really angry and hungry for details. One can understand their frustration with Malaysian authorities for not being able to provide any confirmation. Worst, this is happening with the whole world watching how Malaysia is handling this tragedy.

Now attention has been turned as to who would have diverted the plane and why? Raiding the pilot’s and co-pilot’s homes and carting away their laptops is certainly throwing a heavy blanket of suspicion on them. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53 joined MAS in 1981 and has had 18,365 hours of flight experience. Why would he now do such a thing?

It is certainly heartening to know Malaysia has now requested the help of 15 countries to help in the search. A US destroyer and surveillance plane is now
already operating in the Bay of Bengal, as it is believed the plane may have been forced to fly in this direction.
One question that comes to mind, do not Malaysian authorities and MAS itself have any contingency plans to handle a situation like this. Or is it that familiar Malaysian habit, wait for a disaster to happen before moving into gear?
 
It is a good thing and a source of pride that Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record. Perhaps it can now look at other aspects of its service much more closely?

Finally let us hope this saga comes to an end without any untoward tragedy. Let us hope MH370 lands home safely.

abc@koreanpress.net

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The Malaysian Antic-Not my cup of tea! (2014-03-13 11:48:23)