Archive for March 20th, 2014

New Form 3 exam system open to bias, abuse, says education activist

by Sheridan Mahavera
The Malaysian Insider
March 20, 2014

The new exam system that will replace the PMR for Form Three students this year is open to bias and abuse, and could jeopardise the future of children from poorer families, said an education activist today.

Mohd Noor Izzat Mohd Johari said that unlike the old system, where the Form Three exam is produced and graded by an independent body outside the school, the new one, PT3 or Form Three Assessment, will be done by the teachers of each individual schools.

Since PT3 results are used by students to apply to elite schools such as residential schools and the MARA junior science colleges, richer, more well off parents could pressure teachers into giving their children better grades.

“This is the situation that we are afraid will happen. When parents come to school and ask that teachers ‘take care’ of their kids,” said Mohd Noor Izzat who teaches art at a secondary school in Pahang.

Noor Izzat said this was a big worry for teachers after the PT3 was announced yesterday by the Education Ministry as part of its improvements to the school based assessment system (PBS). Read the rest of this entry »


The Nightmare Never Ends For Families of Missing Jet

by Emily Rauhala/Beijing
March 19, 2014

The distraught families of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 say their pain is compounded by a lack of information about the massive search now in its twelfth day

Grief stalks the halls of Beijing’s Metropark Lido Hotel. Families of the Chinese passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have spent the last 12 days sleeping, eating and waiting here. They pass the hours scouring the Internet and watching television, desperate for information about their loved ones. They are exhausted and angry.

It is easy to spot them in hotel’s bright courtyards and corridors. Some flew here from distant provinces and barely speak Mandarin Chinese. They look lost in a hotel packed with foreign tourists, a place where Rimowa, a luxury luggage company, sells suitcases for 10,000 yuan ($1,600). Many are visibly grief-stricken, their eyes swollen, heads bowed. All are wary of speaking to outsiders. After all, one woman asked, “What is there left to say?” Read the rest of this entry »


Urgent email to Najib for Cabinet endorsement tomorrow for a Parliamentary Select Committee on MH370 to support SAR and standby for full-scale investigation into MH370 crisis

I have just sent an urgent email to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak asking for Cabinet endorsement at its meeting tomorrow for a Parliamentary Select Committee on MH370 to support the ongoing search-and-rescue (SAR) operation and to stand in readiness for a full-scale investigation into the MH370 crisis after the SAR operation.

In my email to the Prime Minister, I informed him of the amendment moved this morning by the Pakatan Rakyat MP for Seremban YB Anthony Loke to the Motion of Thanks currently debated by Parliament proposing the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on MH370 to give full support to the ongoing search-and-rescue (SAR) operation and to stand in readiness to conduct a full-scale investigation into the MH370 crisis after the SAR operation.

We are now in the 13th day after over 300 hours of the traumatic and agonizing multi-national air-sea search, now involving over a hundred ships, helicopters and aircrafts as well as radar system from 26 nations for the missing MH370 Boeing 777-200 aircraft with 239 passengers and crew on board covering two vast tracts of territories totaling 2.24 million square nautical miles stretching from the southern Indian Ocean to Kazakhstan in the north.

We seem no nearer to the discovery of any clue to lead to the whereabouts of the aircraft or what happened in the early hours of March 8, although there are reports today of a new lead from Australian satellite imagery of two objects possibly related to the missing MG370 in the southern Indian Ocean, but which awaits verification. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Aussie handling of MH370 search, valuable lessons for Malaysia

by Justin Ong
The Malay Mail Online
March 20, 2014

COMMENTARY, March 20 — Australia’s response to satellite imagery of debris possibly from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could not have been more different from Malaysia’s in the past 12 days.

Choosing the country’s Parliament as the venue to announce the discovery, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott conveyed both the gravity of the matter — a missing jetliner with 239 passengers — and that it went beyond partisan lines.

And while the discovery remains far from conclusive — the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) repeatedly said the debris may even not have anything to do with the missing plane — it chose to come forward with the information almost immediately.

During the press conference, AMSA Emergency Response Division general manager John Young spoke with lucidity and deliberate caution, readily professing a lack of expertise when he was talking on matters with which he was unfamiliar.

And even with the press conference attended by international media held just hours after Abbott made his announcement, the Australian maritime authority made readily available online all the information it shared with the press then, preventing any possible misinterpretation of its findings.

The alacrity, transparency and neutrality of the response stood in contrast to Malaysia’s actions, which have invited criticism by some and condemnation by others. Read the rest of this entry »


Loss of plane spurs calls to upload black box data to the ‘cloud’

The Malaysian Insider/Reuters
March 20, 2014

The disappearance of a Malaysian plane has prompted calls for in-flight streaming of black box data over remote areas, but industry executives say implementing changes may be complex and costly.

Mark Rosenker, former chairman of the US National Transportation Safety Board, said this incident and the 2009 loss of an Air France flight in the Atlantic should spur reforms in what he described an outdated accident investigation process.

Rosenker, a retired US Air Force general, said finding a way to transmit limited information from flight data and cockpit voice recorders to a virtual “cloud” database would help authorities launch accident investigations sooner and locate a plane if it got into trouble while out of reach of ground-based radars.

“This is the second accident in five years where we’ve had to wait to get the black boxes back,” Rosenker said. “We need to bring the concept of operations for accident investigations and the technology of what is available up to the 21st century.”

Twenty-six nations have been searching for the missing Boeing Co 777 airliner over an area roughly the size of Australia for 12 days, but the massive hunt has found no trace of any wreckage thus far. Read the rest of this entry »

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Crucial MH370 info missing because MAS wanted to save RM33, says expert

The Malaysian Insider
March 20, 2014

Malaysia Airlines opted out of a simple computer upgrade that costs RM33 per flight which would have provided critical information to help find the missing flight MH370 because it went for a cheaper option when purchasing the aircraft, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today.

A satellite industry official was quoted as saying that the upgrade, called Swift, would have provided the direction, speed and altitude of flight MH370 even after other communications from the plane went off the radar.

Had the Swift system been upgraded to include the full package of applications, it could have sent information on engine performance, fuel consumption, speed, altitude and direction, regardless of whether the transponder and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) were working, he said.

The expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Australian daily that the Swift system was similar to how a smartphone sends data to a satellite, while ACARS was akin to an app for a mobile phone.

“When ACARS is turned off, Swift continues on,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“If you configure Swift to track engine data, that data will be streamed off the plane. It continues to be powered up while the aircraft is powered up.”

The report showed that had Malaysia Airlines obtained the upgrade, it would have continued to send flight data by satellite even after the plane’s transponder and ACARS communications went dead. Read the rest of this entry »


MH370: Pressure starts piling on govt

Jeswan Kaur| March 20, 2014
Free Malaysia Today

Grieving families, especially from China, are furious with the Malaysian government for its refusal to be forthcoming with information.


Even in the face of a heartbreaking crisis, the Malaysian government could not let go of its insatiable hunger for politicking.

The nation is left speechless and at a loss wondering why and how the national carrier Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 plane, said to be one of the safest in the world, has disappeared.

It is day 13 since the MH370 Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight has gone missing. International experts complementing Malaysia’s search and rescue efforts are baffled as to what became of the plane which was ferrying 239 people including the cabin crew.

Still, the Malaysian government refuses to get its act right. On Tuesday night, Defense Minister and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein briefed politicians from the ruling BN coalition on the missing aircraft.

For reasons best known to him, Hishammuddin, who is also Umno’s vice-president, ignored politicians from the opposition camp. BN’s nemesis, Pakatan Rakyat was visibly upset at being left out. Read the rest of this entry »


10 theories about missing Flight MH370

New York Post
March 19, 2014

Was lost Flight MH370 the victim of a midair heist of gold bullion? Has it landed but remains hidden? Or was it a terrorist hijacking?

Speculation grows as Australia leads the Indian Ocean search for clues.

Top 10 theories – What may have happened to Flight MH370

1. Fire

A fire may have broken out on the aircraft shortly after last contact was made with air traffic control. The pilot may have made a sharp left turn and attempted to return to a Malaysian airport. Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama says plane search a ‘top priority’

The Malay Mail Online
March 20, 2014

WASHINGTON DC, March 20 — US President Barack Obama said yesterday the search for the missing Malaysian airliner was a “top priority” for the United States and offered every possible resource — including the FBI.

In his first on camera comments on the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Obama offered thoughts and prayers to the relatives of the missing passengers.

“I want them to be assured that we consider this a top priority,” Obama told Dallas television station KDFW in an interview at the White House.

“We have put every resource that we have available at the disposal of the search process,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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FBI analyses pilot’s flight simulator data as search for MH370 enters 13th day

The Malaysian Insider
March 20, 2014

With search for the missing Malaysia Airlines entering its 13th day without any significant development, the FBI has stepped in to help analyse data from a flight simulator seized from the home of flight MH370’s Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah last weekend.

Malaysia has now made available to the FBI electronic data generated by both pilots of flight MH370, including data from a hard drive attached to the captain’s flight simulator, and from electronic media used by the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, an American law enforcement official said to Reuters.

The official, however, said he could not confirm that some data had been wiped from the simulator and stressed that there was no guarantee the FBI analysis would turn up any fresh clues.

USA Today, meanwhile, reported an American federal law enforcement official as saying that the material, including a flight simulator recovered from one of the pilot’s homes, is likely to be shipped to the FBI’s lab in Quantico, Virginia.

The report quoted United States Attorney General Eric Holder as saying that the US and Malaysian governments have been “in ongoing conversations about how we can help”.

“We’re working with authorities, but we don’t have any theories (on the cause of the plane’s disappearance),” USA Today quoted Holder as saying.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had said at the daily press briefing yesterday that local and international expertise have been recruited to examine the pilot’s flight simulator.

“Some data had been deleted from the simulator and forensic work to retrieve this data is ongoing,” Hishammuddin had said.

He had said that the investigations into the flight simulator were part of the overall probe into all passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines flight which has been missing since March 8.

“We are sharing all information relevant to the case with all relevant international investigative agencies,” he had said.

United States investigators had become increasingly frustrated in recent days that Malaysian authorities had not asked them for more help. Read the rest of this entry »

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