‘Chaotic’ handling of tragedy


Malaysia’s handling of flight MH370 tragedy is embarrassing and after five days there are more questions than answers

Jeswan Kaur, FMT

A plane full of passengers has gone missing and the Malaysian authorities continue to struggle to make sense of what really happened.

The government is also unable to get a grip on how to deal with the shocking disappearance of MH370.

This is clearly seen in the press conferences where Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, director-general of Department of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman and Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya continue to find themselves in a tight spot trying to tackle ‘real’ questions from the foreign media.

The fumbling and contradictions from the Malaysian authorities continue to ‘add fuel to fire’, especially on the issue of two passengers on board the ill-fated flight who were said to be in possession of forged passports.

Matters were made worse when Khalid said that travelling on a stolen passport was not an offence under the standard operating procedure (SOP) of the Malaysian Immigration Department.

This matter-of-fact remark by Khalid is both scary and alarming. With the ever looming threat of terrorists, Malaysia’s Immigration Department is not the least worried about individuals making their way to Malaysia to board flights using fraud passports.

It had to take the disappearance of a jet full of people to reveal the shortcomings and loopholes that must be immediately addressed by the Immigration Department.

Apparently the passports had been reported as stolen a year earlier and were registered in the global police organisation Interpol’s online databank.

While Interpol insists the duo used their own passports to exit Iran and enter Malaysia on Feb 28 before using the stolen passports to travel on flight MH370 to Beijing on March 8, the Malaysian Immigration Department is claiming both passengers had used the stolen passports to enter Malaysia on Feb 28.

What is the real story then?

‘Chaotic’ handling of tragedy

Ironically, the same department is amazingly ‘efficient’ in detecting Malaysian activists who are deemed ‘persona non grata’ by its computers as what happened to Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong.

In 2007 Kua was barred from setting foot into Sarawak after the Immigration Department desk at the Kuching Airport cited ‘persona non grata’ as the reason for his being denied entry.

The poor handling of the missing MH370 tragedy has earned the Malaysian government criticism from the international media and experts who say it has been ‘chaotic’ from day one when the Malaysian military spearheaded operations to locate the jet which seems to have vanished into thin air.

The lack of transparency and clarity on what has happened and the scarcity of information from the Malaysian authorities has also angered families of the affected passengers.

Six days after the disappearance of MH370, there are more questions than answers.

There were reports that the co-pilot, first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, had breached flight safety when he allowed two foreign female passengers into the plane’s cockpit in 2011 and had later invited them to spend time with him in Malaysia.

The allegations were posted by Australian television network Channel 9 News on its website on Tuesday.

In an article entitled “Woman remembers cockpit fun with missing pilot” on the network’s website, a young woman claimed she was entertained by the co-pilot in the cockpit for an entire flight, back in 2011.

MAS says it is shocked over the allegation. As to how the Malaysian government and the national carrier will tackle this news remains to be seen, given the fact that there are pictures showing the two women passengers posing with Fariq inside the cockpit.