Archive for category MH 17

2015, year that never was for Malaysia

– Rizal Rozhan
The Malaysian Insider
21 August 2015

To be honest, as a student of international relations, and a fan of international affairs, 2015 was supposed to be a benchmark year for Malaysia. A year to prove that Malaysia can strut her stuff in the global plane.

Once more, like 2014 (we were anticipating Visit Malaysia year to boost our tourism, yet we were marred with a series of unfortunate events), this year is turning out to be a disaster as well.

Even worse than 2014.

Because this time, the problems which beset Malaysia are not those caused externally. This time, we brought ourselves to the chopping board. Read the rest of this entry »

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A wretched, horrendous year, with little cheer

31 December 2014

2014 has been a wretched and horrendous year for Malaysia, with very little spots of sunny cheer for Malaysians. All 52 weeks have seen us angry and sad – not quite the happy Malaysia Truly Asia that we portray in tourism advertisements.

Grief has been Malaysia’s main point of unity – from the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8 to flight MH17 that was shot out of the sky on July 17 to the tragic crash of AirAsia Bhd Indonesian affiliate’s flight QZ8501 on December 28, in the last days of the year.

Three commercial plane crashes linked to Malaysia in just a year – what are the chances of that?

And while that dominated the headlines, there has been other events that added to Malaysia’s grief. Statistics showed that 189 people died of dengue so far this year, up from 95 in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

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United in grief, but still a nation divided

24 August 2014

Yes, Malaysians are united in grief over the twin tragedies of Flight MH370 and Flight MH17. How could anyone not be moved to tears and feel a sense of hollowness by the numbing loss of both these incidents?

But let us not demean this period of mourning and introspection by milking the shooting down of the aircraft for cheap political gain or gimmicky headlines. There has been no shortage of attempts by Barisan Nasional politicians and the mainstream media to turn the Flight MH17 tragedy into the coming out party for the Najib administration; supposedly a showcase of the Prime Minister’s empathy, diplomatic skills and great skill at uniting this nation.

Lost in all the mulch has been the fact that Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been prime minister of Malaysia for more than five years, and not three months. Read the rest of this entry »


Air safety: Flying blind

By Andrew Parker
Financial Times
August 18, 2014

The downing of flight MH17 has revealed gaps in the policing of air space that could endanger passengers

Trouble below: airlines’ access to and interpretation of security assessments in the countries they fly across vary widely

On July 14, Ukrainian officials issued an updated “notice to airmen”. The bulletin instructed commercial pilots to increase their altitude but stopped short of telling them to avoid an area where pro-Russia rebels had began shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft.

The final line read “FM FL260 up to FL320” – technical guidance to increase the minimum height for flights passing over the country’s eastern flank from 26,000ft to 32,000ft.

Three days later, Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH17 followed the instruction and flew at 33,000 feet en route to Australia from Amsterdam via Kuala Lumpur. By early afternoon, the Boeing 777 went out of contact and crashed, killing all 298 people onboard and sparking international outrage.

While investigations continue, western experts point to overwhelming signs that the flight was struck by an anti-aircraft missile with a range of more than 32,000ft.

The MH17 disaster has “changed everything”, says Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, the world’s largest operator of long-haul aircraft, who wants wide-ranging reforms to air space management. “It amounted to premeditated mass murder.” Read the rest of this entry »


Pilots Say U.S. Failed to Assess Ukraine Threat

Wall Street Journal
Aug. 7, 2014

WASHINGTON—U.S. pilot union leaders alleged that federal agencies failed to promptly assess and publicize potential threats posed to airliners flying over eastern Ukraine before the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last month.

The criticism comes as several federal agencies have begun in recent days to look at possible improvements to the process for identifying and responding to significant threats to civilian aircraft, people familiar with the talks said.

It isn’t clear what changes are being discussed, and officials of the Federal Aviation Administration and intelligence agencies declined to comment on the discussions.

In a speech and separate interview on Wednesday, Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, asserted that U.S. and other governments didn’t properly fulfill their “duty to warn” airlines about the possible hazards of flying over areas where fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists raged on the ground.

Flight 17 was “a watershed event” and was “uniquely different” from other airliners brought down by hostile fire in earlier decades, Mr. Moak said in the interview. As a result of what occurred over Ukraine last month, he said, “the federal government has to come up with a dynamic process” to alert airlines about such future threats.

When intelligence is available about flying over hostile airspace, he added, “there has to be a timely process to notify” the industry, and then carriers have to more effectively share information between themselves.
Read the rest of this entry »


Dutch experts still unable to get to MH17 crash site

The Malay Mail Online
JULY 31, 2014

KIEV, July 30 — Dutch police yesterday said it was unlikely they would be able to access the site of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash in east Ukraine because of on-going combat.

The head of the Dutch recovery mission in Ukraine, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, also said 68 Malaysian experts and police officers were expected in Kiev today to join the group.

The Malaysians will then travel to Kharkiv in east Ukraine, closer to the crash site.

“Unfortunately, we don’t expect the security situation to improve enough over the next few days,” Aalbersberg told reporters in Kiev.

“This makes it less likely that we will reach the crash site in the immediate future. There is still too much fighting in the area,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Tampered MH17 site not likely to yield new clues, experts say

The Malay Mail Online
JULY 29, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — After over 12 days of exposure to looters, amateur searchers, and now debris from nearby battles, experts on the ground believe that evidence from MH17’s crash site in eastern Ukraine may be too contaminated to be of much use to investigators.

According to CNN, one frustrated official labelled the site “one of the biggest open crime scenes in the world” after a team of Dutch and Australian investigators were forced to turn back yesterday due to nearby clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists.

The 45-member team, which was accompanied by officials from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), were left frustrated by the fighting which, according to reports from wire agencies, may have destroyed parts of the site where the aircraft’s remains still lie.

AFP reported Vladimir Antyufeev, the self-styled deputy chief of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” as saying that the Ukrainian army has now “taken over part of the crash site”.

The situation on the ground now “is very complicated, it is not a secret”, the rebel leader added, AFP added.

OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw told CNN that on-site experts are growing “sick and tired” of being delayed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Clashes again force investigators to abort visit to Malaysia Airlines crash site

By Carol Morello
Washington Post
July 29 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — An international team of forensics experts and investigators does not expect to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 before Wednesday or even Thursday, two full weeks after it was shot down by an antiaircraft missile fired from rebel-held territory, an official said Tuesday.

Negotiations for access are underway with both the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels in control of the debris field in eastern Ukraine, said Ertugrul Apakan, head of a monitoring team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that is accompanying the experts.

“We expect in a short span of time, tomorrow or the [next] day, to be able to reach the crash site,” Apakan told reporters in Kiev.

Heavy fighting around the site forced a team of about 50 Dutch and Australian experts to abandon a planned visit Tuesday for the third straight day.

The Ukrainian military is in the midst of a major offensive against the rebels, and some of the fiercest fighting has been in the general area where the plane came down in pieces on July 17. The Malaysian Boeing 777 was carrying 298 passengers and crew en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ukraine troops nearing MH-17 crash site; U.N. opens war-crime probe


Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2014

Ukrainian government forces recaptured three towns from pro-Russia separatists and were pressing toward the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine where the separatists accused of downing the plane have obstructed international disaster investigators, officials said Monday.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, meanwhile, said at a news conference in Geneva that the shooting down of MH-17 and the deaths of all 298 people on board were being investigated for possible war-crime charges.

Pro-Russia militants who seized a dozen towns and cities in eastern Ukraine in March and April have seen the territory under their control reduced by more than half during the past few weeks and are now holed up in their embattled strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk. The separatists also control the miles-wide crash site strewn with debris and victims’ remains but face an advancing government offensive emboldened by international outrage over the plane’s destruction.

Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told journalists in Kiev on Monday that government troops had recovered control of Shakhtarsk, about 20 miles from the center of the crash site.

“Our troops entered Shakhtarsk, Torez and Lutuhyne,” Lysenko said, claiming government control of towns on roads leading to the wreckage strewn among sunflower fields.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Zam, are you “Malaysian first, Malay second” or “Malay first, Malaysian second”?

Former information minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin wondered in his blog what if the roles were reversed in the case of a Malay woman threatening an elderly Chinese man with a steering wheel lock following an accident, how would the “Chinese press, Chinese social media, Chinese parties and Chinese NGOs reacted if the person punished was a Chinese”.

He asked: “Wouldn’t they have considered the punishment to be racist since it was a small case?” he asked in his blog posting.

Zainuddin was commenting on the Kuantan Magistrate’s Court decision to fine Siti Fairah Asyikin Kamaruddin, also known as Kiki, RM5,000 and ordering her to engage in 240 hours of community service.

Kiki landed in trouble after a video of her threatening the senior citizen Sim Siak Heong went viral online.

It is shocking and the height of irresponsibility for a former Cabinet Minister to frame an issue on law-breaking through such racial and even racist lens.

Even more reprehensible and deplorable is his dismissal of “Chinese press, Chinese social media, Chinese parties and Chinese NGOs” as communal organisations utterly bereft of Malaysian nationalism or patriotism.

Zainuddin should first answer whether he is “Malaysian first, Malay second” or “Malay first, Malaysian second”, for it is only when he regards himself as in the former category that it is worthwhile, useful and productive to engage in any discussion with him pertaining to any subject whether concerning nation-building or fostering harmonious and congenial inter-racial and inter-religious relations in our plural nation. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysians must be reminded of motto “United we stand, divided we fall” and should talk the language of unity, moderation, tolerance and justice and not the language of division, extremism, hatred and injustice

Parliament reached rare unanimity yesterday when MPs from both sides of the political divide united to unanimously adopt a motion in an emergency meeting to condemn the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 last Thursday in Ukraine as a heinous and barbaric crime against humanity, killing 298 passengers and crew on board.

The rare unity shown by Members of Parliament yesterday mirrored the unity of Malaysians transcending race, religion, region or politics shown by Malaysians in the past week at the second airline disaster and tragedy to hit the national airline, Malaysian Airlines and the nation in less than five months – the MH 370 disappearance disaster with 239 passengers/crew on board on March 8 and the MH 17 disaster on July 17.

While Malaysians unite in grief and sorrow, extending condolences, support, sympathy and solidarity with the bereaved families, relatives and friends of the 537 victims of the two air disasters, as well as encouragement and support to the MAS employees so that they will be not be demoralised, all Malaysians should pause and ponder why we are only capable of unity when there is disaster and catastrophe but not during ordinary times.

Under the shadow of the two air disasters in less than five months, with the country still reeling from the shock and trauma at being the epicentre of these two catastrophes with world-wide repercussions, Malaysians must be reminded afresh of the truth and power of the adage “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. Read the rest of this entry »


Phone Diplomacy in Ukraine Crisis Lifts Malaysian Leader’s Standing

New York Times
JULY 23, 2014

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Intervention on Flight 17 Pays Off

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — It was not an aide or a diplomat on the phone with pro-Russian rebels, trying to get them to relinquish the bodies and the “black boxes” from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine — it was the leader of Malaysia himself.

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia played an unusual personal role, holding a series of cellphone conversations with a rebel leader and then coaching a Malaysian colonel on what to say as he passed through nearly a dozen rebel checkpoints on his way to the crash scene, according to a person who was with the prime minister much of the time.

Mr. Najib’s success has at least temporarily restored his standing at home, where his government was battered by accusations of incompetence after the disappearance in March of another Malaysia Airlines jet, Flight 370. The arrival of most of the bodies and the flight data recorders from Flight 17 at a Ukrainian military base on Tuesday brought an outpouring of relief and praise in Malaysia.

But Mr. Najib’s willingness to negotiate directly with Alexander Borodai, the rebel leader, has prompted disquiet outside the country about whether the prime minister had lent unwarranted legitimacy to a man the Ukrainian government has condemned as a terrorist. Read the rest of this entry »


Flight MH 17 – Some Questions & Answers

Sri Lanka Guardian
Ruwantissa Abeyratne
July 23, 2014

( July 23, 2014, Montreal, Sri Lanka Guardian) When the aircraft operating Flight MH 17 was shot down last week, I was vacationing in Melbourne. The ever vigilant media lost no time in tracking me down from my home in Montreal all the way to Australia within a few hours of the disaster with a list of questions. I thought I would share with the reader the questions that were put to me and my answers.

Q. Would the International Civil aviation Organization (ICAO) be able to issue warnings about a route related to potential dangers from violence/war? Would ICAO be able to issue warnings about a route related to potential dangers from violence/war?

A. ICAO has no mandate or competence to issue warnings based on political and war situations. This is entirely dependent on the State concerned which has the responsibility to issue what is called a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) which advises aircraft which airspace to traverse and which not to. If a pilot traverses many airspaces he/she has to consider all relevant NOTAMs .

The Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) prescribes in Articles 9 and 12 this principle of the right of States to prescribe where aircraft should go and should not, in accordance with requirements set by such States. Article 12 on rules of the air provides that where flights over the high seas are concerned the rules prescribed under the Chicago Convention shall prevail. Those rules are contained in Annex 2 to the Convention. Read the rest of this entry »

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Analysts say justice for MH17 victims will be very difficult

Tom Allard
Sydney Morning Herald
24th July 2014

The battle to bring to justice the perpetrators of the apparent missile attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 will be extremely difficult, not least because Russia is in a position to thwart any attempt to bring it or its citizens before any international or domestic court, analysts said.

The hurdles are immense even after Russia this week endorsed a strongly worded United Nations convention pledging its commitment to hold those responsible to account, analysts said on Wednesday.

Whoever was behind the downing of MH17 remains uncertain, although US intelligence officials believe the most likely scenario was pro-Russian separatists hit the plane by accident, mistaking it for a Ukrainian military transport plane.

There also has been speculation that Russia supplied the Buk-M1 surface to air missile system, also known as a SA-11, to the rebels and trained the separatists in how to use it.

Russia and the separatists deny the accusations, blaming Ukraine – which also has the SA-11 – for the downing of MH17. If an investigation finds Russia and the separatists culpable, it will be a massive challenge to bring the matter to a court, let alone get a conviction. Read the rest of this entry »


Ukraine Says 2 Fighter Jets Are Shot Down as Clashes Intensify

New York Times
JULY 23, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — Fighting intensified in the rebel-controlled region of Ukraine on Wednesday, with military officials reporting that two Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jets had been shot down near the village of Dmytrivka in the east.

Few details of the latest downings were available. But the news was reported as Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council in Kiev said the military operation to suppress the insurgents was advancing in the east, with government troops having retaken two cities in the Luhansk region as they continued an aggressive push from the north and west.

Officials said rebels had blown up a road bridge, a railroad bridge and train tracks in the city of Gorlivka, and they reported continued fierce fighting along a section of the border with Russia that remains porous. Ukrainian forces are increasingly desperate to seal that border to prevent resupplies of weapons or new fighters from entering Ukraine.

A Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said Russia had strengthened its troop presence along the border and cross-border gunfire had increased.

The reported downing of the two fighter jets was a serious blow to the Ukrainian military, which has limited air power. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Flight 17 prosecution faces major evidentiary and legal obstacles

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post
July 22 2014

Despite mounting evidence that Russian-backed separatists downed a commercial aircraft over Ukraine last week, Western diplomats and law enforcement officials face significant obstacles prosecuting the culprits, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that they have not yet identified the separatists who operated the missile system that apparently destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, presenting investigators with their first and perhaps most daunting challenge.

But in a briefing with reporters, the officials continued to build the Obama administration’s case of Russian complicity in a shoot-down by separatists. The officials provided intelligence material on the path of the missile, voiceprint analysis of separatists discussing bringing down a plane, shrapnel markings on the aircraft, and material from social-media sites to back administration claims.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, also identified a Russian military installation as a training hub for the separatists and a conduit for weapons to be sent into eastern Ukraine.

Even if the perpetrators are identified, determining their motive and proving their guilt would pose evidentiary and legal challenges for which there is little precedent, according to experts in international law. Establishing a venue for a trial would almost certainly entail intense diplomatic wrangling. Moreover, as crimes scenes go, the area in eastern Ukraine where the plane’s wreckage fell is a prosecutor’s nightmare, amid reports of looting and tampering with evidence by separatists. Read the rest of this entry »


Cockpit of MH 17 found sawed in half at crash site in Ukraine

By Filip Warwick and Doug Stanglin
Detroit Free Press
July 22, 2014

HRABOVE, UKRAINE — International monitors who gained full access to the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine said Tuesday the Boeing 77’s cockpit inexplicably had been sawed in half while under the control of Russian-backed separates.

The monitors said large parts of the cockpit — and every part of the fuselage — were carried off. They said they are not sure why such vital pieces of evidence from the downed plane were tampered with.

Flight 17, carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members, crashed Thursday after being hit by what U.S. officials suspect was a surface-to-air missile launched from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

U.S. officials said Tuesday that intel suggests separatists shot down the plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and that no link to Russia was found.

The cockpit was found in a section of the crash site that had been immediately cordoned off during the first two days after the plane went down. Witnesses tell USA TODAY that this was also the area where the first bodies were removed.

The cockpit apparently was cut in half with diesel-powered saws. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib commended for breakthrough with the handover of the two black boxes of MH 17 and the transportation of the remains of most of the 298 victims from Torez to Amsterdam

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is to be commended for the breakthrough with the handover of the two black boxes of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 which was shot down in Ukraine on Thursday night and the transportation of the remains of most of the 298 victims from Torez in rebel-controlled Eastern Ukraine to Ukraine-controlled Kharkiv and onwards to Amsterdam.

For four days, the international outrage over the heinous and senseless crime against humanity in the shooting down of a civilian airliner with 298 passengers and crew on board, including 80 children, had been further incensed and aggravated by the gruesome and insensitive disrespect shown to the remains of the MH 17 victims as well as the looting and contamination of the crash site.

But it is still to be seen whether international calls for full, independent and credible international investigation into the criminal downing of MH 17, as well as the United Nations Security Council unanimous resolution last night demanding investigators to be given immediate access to the crash site and calling for a ceasefire in the area, will be heeded by all the three parties to the Ukraine conflict – the Russian-backed separatists, Russia and the Ukraine government. Read the rest of this entry »


MH17 black boxes handed over by pro-Russia rebels

Shaun Walker in Donetsk and Harriet Salem in Torez
The Guardian
Tuesday 22 July 2014

Malaysian officials receive flight recorders from downed plane in ceremony after 12 hours of negotiations

Four days after the Boeing 777 came crashing down into the fields of eastern Ukraine, the black box recorders from flight MH17 were finally handed over to the Malaysians at a surreal night-time ceremony in Donetsk.

Almost 12 hours after negotiations between the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and a Malaysian delegation began, a group of somewhat bewildered looking Malaysians were given the two black boxes – chunky devices which are in fact orange – by Alexander Borodai, the self-styled prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, in a late-night press conference guarded by dozens of Kalashnikov-wielding rebels, on the 11th floor of a government building in Donetsk that has been occupied by the rebels.

Before handing over the boxes, Borodai took the chance to insist again that the pro-Russia rebels in east Ukraine had nothing to do with the downing of MH17, and blamed the Kiev government, which he said had “both the technical ability and the motive” to bring down the plane.

Colonel Mohamed Sakri, part of the Malaysian delegation, thanked “his excellency Mr Borodai” for agreeing to the transfer, which came after Borodai spoke personally to the Malaysian prime minister by telephone earlier in the day. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia Airlines Flight 17: Eight unanswered questions

By Faith Karimi
July 21, 2014

(CNN) — Amid the chaos and the grief, the politics and the finger pointing, we are no closer to answering some key questions about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The crash, which killed all 298 aboard, has turned a volatile Ukrainian region into a global problem.

Here are eight questions we don’t yet have the answers to.

1. Who shot down the plane?

Only a full investigation can settle that. This much we know: Flight MH17 was shot down using a surface-to-air missile in Ukrainian territory that’s controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

“We have a video showing a launcher moving back through a particular area there, out into Russia, with at least one missing missile on it,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

But Russia has denied any involvement. So have the rebels, who accuse the Ukrainians of downing the plane — without offering proof. Read the rest of this entry »