March 9, 2014

Keeping MH370 in Mind

By Aldric

Saturday morning. As usual I checked my Facebook via the mobile app. My uncle posted a screen capture photo. It was a headline claiming that a Malaysian Airlines plane disappeared 2:40am that morning. As the day passed, news and statuses began pouring in and flooding my timeline. By that time, many woke to the unsettling news: MH370 has disappeared.

After a series of unwelcomed remarks on social media and the outpouring of disbelief, 48 hours have passed.

Malaysia Airlines and the Government of the Federation of Malaysia together with a team of international search and rescue team are working round the clock to search for the missing aircraft. News portals – traditional and online – dedicate resources to speculate analyse the chain of events and keep the public informed.

Experts from all over the world – especially on Facebook and Twitter – began churning reasons for the sudden disappearance. Joining the bandwagon are political keyboard warriors and fake accounts claiming:

  • The aircraft’s disappearance is a punishment for a cruel government
  • This is God’s way of punishing Muslims/non-Muslims – depending on which side you belong to
  • This is how God punishes people going to Beijing to perform sin – the same author insists that holidays are a form of vice (maksiat)
  • Scolding the Government of the Federation on how useless the two submarines bought from France are as it cannot be used in the search and rescue efforts
  • Scolding the Government and MAS on slow updates amidst media updates

Really, these are heartless comments which should never be uttered at this moment in time. Families and friends of the passengers and crew are emotionally and psychologically affected. The first liners in the SAR are out there risking their own lives to find the missing aircraft.

As for the “missing” status, it is based on logical and analytical meaning of the word. If the Government or MAS immediately declared the aircraft to have crashed, where is the wreckage? Why can’t family members/next-of-kin be brought to the site? What if – the best case scenario – passengers and crew were able to escape? If it was indeed a crash, what caused it?

Some blame MAS and the Federal Government of the slow response. Had the situation been different, i.e. disappearance happened within Malaysian territory, the response would have been relatively faster. Why? It involves domestic assets. Things are marred by complications:

  • MH370 belongs to Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian Flag Carrier, who is answerable to many parties: the Malaysian Government, shareholders, the Parliament, the Malaysian public, families of the passengers and crew, foreign governments, regulators (both domestic and foreign)
  • The B777-200ER is made by Boeing – who would like to know what happened and where because the FAA and customers would be all over their a$$es.
  • Passengers are made up of different nationalities, whose governments want immediate answers as well: China, Australia, the United States among others
  • There exists suspicions of terrorist elements. As there are U.S. nationals aboard, the U.S. FBI would like to assert its jurisdiction over the matter
  • If the aircraft disappeared in Vietnamese territory, the Vietnamese authorities have legal jurisdiction over investigation and recovery. You must be mad to send in warships into a sovereign nation’s territory without their permission!!!

We are soon passing the 48-hour mark since the first point of losing contact. All we can do now is pray and hope for the best, not just for the pax and crew of MH370, but also the SAR team, the staff of MAS and volunteers and more importantly the families and friends of those affected.

God bless us. God bless us all.