The Malay Mail Online
April 25, 2014
Kuala Lumpur April 25 – Malaysia has agreed to release its preliminary report on the disappearance of MH370 by next week, caving to pressure from the angry families of those aboard the missing jetliner.
In an exclusive interview with CNN yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reportedly told the global news channel’s aviation expert Richard Quest that the report, now in the hands of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), will be made publicly available.
“I have directed an internal investigation team of experts to look at the report, and there is a likelihood that next week we could release the report,” Najib said, according to CNN’s online report of the interview.
CNN said the prime minister later replied with a more definitive answer that the report will be released next week, and that according to Najib’s office, the internal investigation team has also been told to look into what other information could be revealed at the same time.
Citing ICAO, CNN said Malaysia made a safety recommendation in its report. The country’s investigators reportedly urged the global aviation industry to consider real-time tracking of all commercial aircraft, the same recommendation made after Air France Flight 447 went down in 2009.
Earlier in the day, CNN had quoted Malaysian officials as saying that they were yet to decide if they would make their preliminary findings public.
The news report, however, raised questions over why the Malaysian authorities would not immediately release their findings, particularly at a time when the country was under tremendous pressure from international communities to prove it had not bungled investigations into MH370’s mysterious disappearance.
Quest had pointed out that such preliminary reports are typically made public.
“In most cases, the report is published because it’s not a controversial document,” he said. “It’s a statement of facts ― what happened. And if there are any controversial or difficult facts, they can be redacted.”
The alleged secret nature of the preliminary report also fueled the frustration of MH370’s next-of-kin.
Sarah Bajc, the partner of passenger Philip Wood, told CNN that the Malaysian authorities have been “choosing to treat us as if we are the enemy as opposed to an interested party in helping to solve this mystery.”
“We need a fresh start here,” she was quoted as saying in the channel’s online news report.
“We’ve been sitting on opposite sides of the table. They have a briefing, they tell us what they know and we ask them questions.”
“That’s just kind of broken. I think we need to start from scratch and sit down and have a positive dialogue.”
It has been 49 days since the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from radar. The Boeing 777-200ER carrying 239 people is believed to have diverted radically off its original flight path to Beijing before ending its journey in the southern Indian Ocean.
The conclusion was announced by Najib in a somber press conference on March 24, over two weeks after the jetliner’s disappearance on March 8.
But in his interview with Quest last night, Najib would not say that the plane was considered lost and its passengers dead.
He told Quest that although the circumstances suggest such a scenario, he could not make such a claim for the sake of the families of those on board.
“On the balance of the evidence, it would be hard to imagine otherwise,” he said.
“Right now, I think I need to take into account the feelings of the next of kin.. and some of them have said publicly that they are not willing to accept it until they find hard evidence.”
Searchers now scouring the vast swathes of the remote Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth in Australia have yet to find any evidence of MH370.
On Wednesday, Malaysia announced the formation of an international panel of experts to conduct an extensive probe on the aircraft’s disappearance.
“The main purpose of the international team is to evaluate and investigate and determine the actual cause of the accident so that similar accidents can be avoided,” acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told a press conference here.
“It, however, will not cover the criminal aspects of the case, which come under the purview of the Royal Malaysian Police,” he added.
Hishammuddin explained that the team, which will be appointed by a special sub-committee chaired by his deputy, will cover three key areas ― the plane’s airworthiness, operational aspects related to the plane, and the medical and human factors of those on board.