Column - Lost but not forgotten

07 Mar 2017 / 21:15 H.

TODAY is a day of mourning in remembrance of those who went "missing" on flight MH370 three years ago. Despite all efforts, it remains a mystery what took place on the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew. Despite the many claims of how advanced the airline industry is, the MH370 tragedy has raised questions of security and safety.
It left no clue that could be relied upon to bring a ray of hope towards a disclosure. The countless gadgets, personal effects and accessories on the plane also failed to surface. To top it all, reports suggest no Mayday call was made.
It therefore defies the imagination as to where the plane is. Condolences may not be enough for those who are involved, yet this is all that can be offered for now as a sign of empathy. Our hearts go out to the anguished family members.
That is why it was comforting to read last week that the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court order compelling Malaysian Airlines Bhd to provide documents of the flight. In the suit, the family members of the passengers claimed negligence, breach of contract and others. The next of kin sought 37 documents, including communications, correspondence and other materials like internal documents related to MH370. It is only right that they get access to the documents given that the search was called off in January and there is still no solution in sight. After spending millions to search an area covering 120,000km² west of Australia, the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre officially suspended the "fruitless trawl".
The time spent has exceeded the two years taken to "recover" Air France flight AF447, which "disappeared" over the Atlantic on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in June 2009.
According to British aviation expert Chris Yates, even if the black boxes are found "it seems unlikely that we will get that answer" why MH370 ended up thousands of kilometres off course.
This is among the issues in which Malaysia was scrutinised the world over when dealing with the tragedy. Being inexperienced in handling such an unprecedented disaster, there was no lack of criticism suggesting we must learn to put right quickly while taking responsibility for the "missteps" that happened so as to maintain a high level of public trust.
Going by the book Flight MH370 – The Mystery by Nigel Cawthorne, this is imperative. For example, Chapter Six – Terror in the Skies is most instructive when it alleges that "the Malaysian authorities promised to tighten security at Kuala Lumpur after criticism that it had grown lax in recent years". It also highlighted the controversial issue of two passengers travelling on "fake passports".
Such reminders are all too important now that the country is thrust into another unprecedented "tragedy" flagging world attention again. This time it revolves around a yet to be identified "victim" "murdered" by a notorious banned neurotoxin (now being contested) at klia2.
Inevitably all of these raise issues of "security and safety" once more. And it does not help to see on TV the process of "mopping up" klia2 by personnel who were in full protective gear while virtually all media counterparts covering the scene did not even have a facemask on! The contradiction and laxity is too obvious.
In addition, just as the authorities were quick to reaffirm that airport security is never compromised, a high definition CCTV footage of the klia2 "murder" case was aired on a Japanese TV channel for the first-time showing how the victim was attacked and his subsequent movement to seek medical help at the airport. The leaked footage was replayed many times over the local channels attesting that it is real. Although the "leak" is reportedly being investigated scepticism is beginning to set in.
This is further compounded by reports that the "victim" could be travelling on two (fake) passports, under two different identities, one as Kim Chol.
The current episode has sparked a diplomatic spat where Malaysia has stood its ground, though no one can really tell what the end game will be. Our only hope is in the end Malaysia will walk away unscathed with its pride held high.
With some four decades of experience in education, the writer believes that "another world is possible". Comments:

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