Kit Siang wants opposition to lead MH370 inquiry


(MM) – DAP’s Lim Kit Siang demanded today that the opposition lead the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) inquiry into the missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, citing Putrajaya’s alleged poor handling of the disaster as reason.

The Gelang Patah MP also rejected the Najib administration’s plan to form the panel only after the black boxes from the Boeing 777 have been recovered, saying the move was meant to avoid a full investigation that could implicate key figures.

“As Malaysia is leading the multinational SAR operation, similarly, the Opposition-headed PSC should form the nucleus of a multi-national Parliamentary inquiry,” Lim said in a statement.

“I call on the Ministers at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow to overrule any suggestion that an investigation should only be launched after the retrieval of the black box… as it smacks of an avoidance of a full investigation,” he added.

Lim said following strong international criticism that Putrajaya had poorly coordinated the search operations for the plane along with the 239 people aboard, a delayed inquiry into the incident would be seen by the world as an attempt by the Malaysian government “to continue with an opaque policy rejecting accountability and transparency”.

Earlier today Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim told Parliament that Putrajaya will not set up a special parliamentary committee or a panel to conduct a royal inquiry into a missing Malaysian jet before the “black boxes” are found.

Shahidan stressed that the federal government’s top priority now was to find the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders, key pieces that could unravel the puzzle over the plane’s fate.

“At this moment, after the black box is found, we will set up a RCI (Royal Commission of Inquiry) or a parliamentary select committee,” the minister in the prime minister’s department told Parliament in his winding-up speech on the Yang-Dipertuan Agong’s speech.

He said that while the government currently agreed in principle on the need for a formal inquiry process, the decision will only be made after discovery of the “black boxes” of the plane that was assumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.

The announcement drew immediate criticism as opposition lawmakers raised concerns over the prospect of a prolonged search for the black box, pointing to the Air France flight AF447 incident where its black box was only recovered two years after the plane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean.

“What happens if the “black box” is never recovered, as has happened in past air-disasters – does this mean that there would be no investigations as to what could have gone terribly wrong to cause not only a national but an international disaster like the tragic MH370 case?

“This would make Malaysia an even bigger laughing stock,” Lim said.

A series of conflicting statements by officials and delayed response to calls for disclosures of key radar data have subject Malaysia to intense international as well as domestic scrutiny.

The Najib administration, however, maintained that it had done a “tremendous job” in view of its inexperience in the “unprecedented” disaster.