Today is the 11th day of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
What is traumatic and excruciating for the families, relatives and friends of the 239 passengers and crew on board as well as an international community united in their prayer for their safety is that despite spawning the largest-ever multi-national air-sea search – involving over a hundred ships and aircrafts from 26 countries – there is nothing to indicate the whereabouts of the aircraft or the people on board.
This is the time for everyone regardless of race, religion, politics or nationality to continue to unite as one to pray and hope for the safety of the 239 people on board the missing MH370.
As I said in my speech in Parliament last Thursday (the sixth day of the missing MH370):
“With each passing day, our hopes and prayers that the 239 passengers and crew of MH 370 can survive safely through their ordeal become more and more tenuous, but even so, we must not give up hope and must continue to pray for a miracle for MH 370.
“All Malaysians, in fact all humanity, regardless of race, religion, politics or nationality, have come together as one to pray for the safety of the 239 passengers and crew on board MH 370.
“We cannot pretend that many questions are not being asked, whether by the aggrieved families, relatives and friends or by the humanity at large, whether in Malaysia or internationally, and which increase with each passing day, about the MH 370 tragedy, but the answers to these questions will have to wait as the sole focus and priority must be to find the aircraft.
“Malaysians and the world, however, must be assured that at the right time and place, answers to all the questions that are being asked in the country and worldwide will be found.”
I had suggested that the Malaysian Parliament, which represents all Malaysians, must play its role in this MH 370 tragedy, not only giving full support to all the efforts in the “search and rescue” efforts by the government and the various agencies but also subsequently to conduct full investigations into the MH 370 tragedy and its various controversies and confusions, referring to six such controversies.
This was why I called for the immediate formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee on Disasters to give full support to MH 370 “search and rescue” operation and to hold itself in readiness to conduct investigations after SAR ops to address all queries on the MH 370 tragedy.
I regret that up to now, there has been no response from either the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak or Hishammuddin to this proposal for a Parliamentary Select Committee.
In the past six days, while the “search and rescue” operations have expanded to involve a larger expanse of land and sea, we are still without a clue as to what actually happened or where is the final location of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, more questions have surfaced. The latest question, for instance, arises from the backtrack on a key statement in the daily press conferences regarding the sequence of events leading up to the disappearance of the missing aircraft.
On the ninth day of the MH 370 SAR, Hishammuddin stated that one of the plane’s communication systems, ACARS, had been switched off at 1.07 am, minutes before someone in the cockpit verbally signed off, “all right, good night” at 1.19 to air traffic controllers – which seemed to clearly confirm foul play and even implicate the pilot who spoke those final words.
But yesterday, on the 10th day, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya stated that the ACARS system, which communicates every 30 minutes, was still active at 1:07 a.m., but failed to send its next scheduled update at 1:37 a.m.
Thus, the system could have been disabled at any point within the 30 minute window. As a refresher, the plane’s other communication system, its transponder, failed at 1:21 a.m.
The new information opens up the possibility that the plane’s two communication systems were disabled at the same time, rather than successively, which had been previoulsy reported as a clue the systems were intentionally shut off rather than cut off by a mechanical or electrical failure.
With the increase in questions, confusions and controversies surrounding the MHY370 crisis, it is most unfortunate and regrettable that the Acting Transport Minister is holding a “For BN MPs only” briefing on the MH370 crisis in a Kuala Lumpur hotel at 8.30 pm tonight.
This is a very negative and divisive development as well as inimical to Parliament’s role to conduct full investigations into the MH370 tragedy after the SAR operation.
Hishammuddin must be reminded that there was an independent Japanese parliamentary inquiry on the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster – the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl – which caused the evacuation of some 150,000 people. The six-month inquiry of the Japanese parliamentary commission concluded that the disaster of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident was “man-made” and that “the direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable”.
I would urge Hishammuddin to respect and not to compromise in any way Parliament’s special interests, rights and responsibility to conduct full and comprehensive inquiry into the MH370 crisis after the SAR operation and to ensure that his briefing is given to all MPs and not just a section of MPs, and that such briefing should be given immediately without any delay.
(Media Statement in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 18th March 2014)