The Malaysian Insider
May 07, 2014
Putrajaya must be transparent about the circumstances that led to flight MH70 vanishing two months ago, and should apologise for shortcomings in the search for the missing plane, the husband of one of the passengers wrote in an open letter to the prime minister.
K. S. Narendran, whose wife Chandrika Sharma was on the Malaysia Airlines plane with 238 other people, said the families have lost their loved ones but Malaysia had lost its credibility in the search for the Boeing 777-200ER.
“Perhaps the most serious casualty second only to the loss of the plane is the severely impaired credibility of your Government and the airline’s handling of the crisis.
“The skimpy Preliminary Report released to the public this week, supposedly based on your guidelines does little to enhance your government’s commitment to transparency, and therefore only adds fuel to doubts, suspicion and speculations,” he wrote in an email to Datuk Seri Najib Razak dated May 4, 2014.
Narendran, an Indian citizen, also asked Najib to act like a statesman in the hunt for the plane, which has yet to be found after going missing on March 8, 2014, while en route to Beijing.
“I have heard you speak thrice now, the first time on 15th March when you referred among other things to the MH370’s ‘turn back’ as ‘deliberate action’ by someone on the plane, then on 24th March when you delivered an unpalatable, cryptic message that MH 370 had ended in the Indian ocean, and a third time a little over a week ago – you in conversation with Richard Quest wherein you spoke of mistakes made.
“Each time, I experienced you as measured, sombre in a way that could be easily taken as sincere, and as a man with good intentions. You and perhaps your managers have ensured that you are statesman-like. The time has come now for you to actually be the part,” he wrote in the email.
Narendran asked the prime minister “to go deeper into what was unprecedented and when did the event enter unprecedented territory or proportions.”
“This will help separate the misjudgements and negligence of your civil aviation and military establishments from very early in the MH 370 saga: these we know from history have precedents and were avoidable.
“The rest that followed has confounded the best among experts. Therefore to invoke the lack of precedent and disclaim any direct responsibility all the way is being somewhat disingenuous,” he added.
He said that the findings could help avoid a repeat of the incident, adding that “for Malaysia’s sake and for the sake of the affected families is a sincere, heartfelt apology that things have come to such a pass.
“I would imagine that for wounded Malaysian pride, it will serve as a point from which to refashion a new set of commitments unto itself and people at large.
“For the families of passengers, it might begin a healing process and a fresh start free of rancour, accusation and suspicion,” Narendran said in the email.
He also urged Putrajaya to be transparent about the investigations into the lost plane.
“My hypothesis is that the lack of transparency that has come to define your government’s engagement with the rest of the world is because your government wants to hold onto a pretence of competence, mask the guilt and shame of initial lapses and a fear of the scorn and contempt that may be heaped on it from round the world.
“The burden of this only grows. The burden of a heavy conscience will weigh on your people for a long time if you fail to not own up,” he added.
Narendran also asked for an apology to the families of passengers and crew aboard the plane.
His wife, Chandrika, was the executive secretary of the International Collective in Support of Fish Workers and was heading to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to attend a regional conference for Asia and the Pacific hosted by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
The couple have one daughter.
“A heartfelt apology to my mind is an admission of direct responsibility for a set of lapses that were entirely within the control of the government and the airline, taking responsibility for consequences of such responsibility, holding oneself publicly accountable for the conduct of the search and rescue/recovery, invoking humility to include or hand over to others who are competent some or all parts of the investigation, and being facilitative of the families access to detailed information at every stage.
“No doubt there is a price to pay. It must be paid. However, an apology and an appeal for forgiveness would enhance Malaysia’s standing amongst nations and peoples in a way that no amount of protestations or grandstanding will,” he added.
Narendran said for the families, “a lot rides on how diligently and persistently your government pursues the truth through investigation, how compassionate it is towards all the affected, and how humble and receptive it is in taking the waves of criticism from interested parties.
“It needs to measure up to the international benchmarks of transparency, public scrutiny and challenge, and assure the sceptical world that there is indeed no cover-up, no attempt to be creative or economical with the truth. After all, the world is watching, waiting…,” he said.
Narendran said that while the truth sometimes hurt, it would also be liberating.
“The loss of trust I alluded to earlier threatens this for me personally and I suspect for many others. It is disturbing to consider that self-centred deceit and duplicity to get ahead, move on, or self-preservation could be at work in the present instance.
“We do need a fresh start here, Mr Prime Minister. You have a part to play in shaping what we believe in, and what world we create. For us to trust you and your government, we need you too to take a leap of faith and do what is right and not just what is safe.
“So cast aside the cravings and compulsions of office and try being the statesman. Malaysia will emerge stronger, and others would be willing to give it another chance in due course,” he said in ending the letter to the prime minister. – May 7, 2014.