Ten days after my speech in Parliament proposing a Parliamentary Select Committee on the missing MH370 crisis, with 239 passengers and crew on board in the early hours of March 8; three days after the Pakatan Rakyat press conference on Wednesday in Parliament on a formal proposition to set up a Parliamentary Select Committee on MH370 by way of an amendment to the pending Motion of Thanks for the Royal Address currently undergoing debate in the Dewan Rakyat and two days after the Pakatan Rakyat MP for Seremban Anthony Loke having moved the formal proposition in Parliament on Thursday for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on MH370, there is still not a word from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak whether the government would support a Parliamentary Select Committee on MH370.
The search for the missing MH370 Boeing 777-200 aircraft is already the longest in modern passenger-airline history, as the previous record was the 10-day search for a Boeing 737-400 with 102 people on board operated by Indonesia’s PT Adam Skyconnection Airlines, which went missing off the coast of the country’s Sulawesi island on January 1, 2007.
The MH 370 search has entered the third week with today being the 15th day of the missing aircraft, but despite the deployment of the world’s largest-ever 26-nation multi-national air-sea search-and-rescue (SAR) operation covering two vast tracts of territories totaling 2.24 million square nautical miles (about the same size of Australia), there has been no clue as to what happened to the aircraft and the 239 passengers and crew in the early hours of March 8, how and why it happened!
All Malaysians fully support every effort by the government to find the missing MH370, fervently praying for the safety of the 239 passengers and crew, but they cringe at the spate of adverse publicity especially in the international media which put the country in a very poor light – especially the many unnecessary confusions and contradictions which should not have happened at all.
The most recent incident is the admission by the MAS CEO yesterday that MH370 was carrying lithium ion batteries in its cargo, after he had denied five days earlier that it was carrying any hazardous materials or high-value items apart from three to four tonnes of mangosteens to China.
This has reignited the speculation that a fire might be responsible for MH370’s disappearance on May 8. Whatever the outcome of the controversy over MAS’ claims that the lithium ion batteries carried onboard MH370 were in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the question remains as to why the MAS CEO had denied such a cargo five days ago instead of being fully frank, factual and transparent so as not to undermine credibility and confidence.
The time has come for the Prime Minister to exercise leadership and authority in the handling of the MH370 crisis, starting with him showing national and international leadership by giving full support for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on MH370 without any further delay or procrastination.
(Media Statement in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 22nd March 2014)