Three events in the last 24 hours have brought some semi-light and “hope against hope”, however tenuous and unsubstantial, in the long, bleak and agonizing 21-day ordeal of the aggrieved that all is not yet lost for the 239 passengers and crew aboard Malaysian Airlines aircraft MH 370 Boeing 777-200 as long as no wreckage has been found.
The first is the statement by the satellite company Inmarsat, distancing itself from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s definitive conclusion on the 17th day of the missing MH370 that the Malaysian Airlines flight had ended in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors and the announcement of the end of the search-and-rescue (SAR) operation.
Inmarsat spokesperson Jonathan Sinnatt has been quoted in the international media as saying that Inmarsat had only provided the information and it was for the Malaysian government to draw its own conclusions.
He said: “We provide our information to the Malaysians, and they combine that with all the other information which they have, which we wouldn’t know about, and then they draw their conclusions from that and make their own announcements on that basis.
“We aren’t a party to what the Malaysians announced, that’s up to them, because they see the full picture. We just contribute one set of information”.
Najib had on the night of March 24 delivered a grim press conference announcing MH370 had “ended in the Indian Ocean”, with no survivors and an end to the “search-and-rescue” (SAR) operation and its replacement with search-and-recovery (SAR) of wreckage debris, citing analysis of Inmarsat’s satellite data.
This had understandably fuelled exasperation, despair and anger among the families of the passengers and crew, who refused to accept the conclusion until the aircraft or a piece of its wreckage is found.
And despite announcing the finality of the end of Flight MH370 and SAR operation, the Prime Minister was himself unsure of its finality, which was why he announced in Parliament the next day that the Government would not declare a state of national mourning until more conclusive evidence was found to identify wreckage belonging to MH370.
The second event is the shifting of the air-and-sea search for the wreckage 1,100km to the north-east of “Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Screaming Sixties” bringing it considerably closer to the Western Australian coast, following a fresh analysis of radar and satellite data, indicating that the Boeing 777 was flying faster than initially estimated, and therefore would have run out of fuel more quickly.
The third event was the meeting of the Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein with some of the MH370 victims’ next of kin this morning and his assurance that the government would keep searching for the aircraft and the missing survivors – however remote the chances of success.
With no debris retrieved or positively identified, all must respect and give strength and support to relatives of those on board MH370 who are still clinging to a sliver of hope, however tenuous and unsubstantial, that their loved ones had survived the ordeal of the 21-day missing MH370.
As Eliz Wong Yun Wi, whose father Wong Sai Sang was on the flight, said: “After so many days, still no plane. We will not believe until the plane wreckage is found.”