Crisis of credibility in Malaysian plane search


This is an article I wrote a couple of days ago for Asia Times Online:

It has been a sight that Malaysians are unaccustomed to – senior ministers and officials shifting uncomfortably and bristling in delivering curt responses to journalists trying to extract more information about the still unresolved March 8 disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner destined for China.

Graphic: Sydney Morning Herald
The search areas for Friday, 21 March 2014 and earlier this week – Graphic: Sydney Morning Herald

A series of false leads and apparent withheld information about the airliner’s known pathway has resulted in a wild goose chase involving dozens of countries. Today, Australia’s Air Force said it sighted two objects in the southern Indian Ocean that may be related to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The Malaysian government’s unexplained delay in disclosing the plane’s turn back from its scheduled route toward an area near Penang in the west coast of the peninsula has exposed Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government to global criticism of its perceived as inept crisis management.

Full article in Asia Times Online

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  1. There are a number of reasons why anyone would not reveal all that there is to reveal in any such situation for reasons that concern security, potential litigation, consequential damages that flow from imprecise information and the sheer size of the tragedy that the disappearance of MH 370 presented the government of Malaysia.

    President Obama in an off the mic (or so he thought) remark said not long after the tragedy “I’m glad its them an not us having to deal with this”. The truth is this. No one and not any nation has performed any differently in such a situation.

    The west’s most powerful nations, Australia, the US, Holland and Russia are faring no better in their responses to the MH 17 tragedy. Singapore could only manage an insult in the face of the tragedy. Their crew who flew behind the ill fated MH 17 were taken out of circulation and a ban placed on any inquiry or giving out information about any of them, their identities or what they witnessed.

    Instead a private American contractor hired by the Ukrainians and Dutch claimed to have satellite imagery of Russian surface to air missiles being moved into and out of the region on the ground from where they say the trajectory of a BUK missile could have only come.

    What many in the heat of the moment failed to note was the date of the “satellite intelligence”. It was a day after the event quickly and embarrassing corrected with another image taken a daye after the event. It is printed so clearly with the time on it in the image. Even that was fudged. And it was not the Malaysian government.

    The Spanish air traffic controller whose family said he was taken out and placed incommunicado immediate after the event were not give space in a press dominated by the same people that engineered the coup in Ukraine that saw the previous government fall. His testimony to his friends and to a Spanish paper which agreed with the EU to withdraw publication of the article said ” MH 17 was directed to fly a certain path during which time I noted two MiG fighter aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force tail the MH 17. They did not respond to my calls that they were in an air space at a height they should not have been. A few seconds later the MH 17 radio appeared to have been intercepted and their signal jammed. A few more minutes later it disappeared from the radar and the two Ukrainian jets appeared to be heading back further inland to a base in the North of Ukraine”.

    His record of events which also included the invasion of the control tower by the Military who seized all records of conversations and charts for the day and that particular shift. He was then escorted off duty and not heard from.

    The Russians are one of the most sophisticated armed forces of the world. Its intelligence apparatus certainly more efficient than its western counterparts. Ask the Israelis and they will tell you.

    Even the Tamil Tigers did not engage in calling people over thee radio in plainspeak. They used code. Never one of the manufactured conversations in the Ukrainian propaganda which suggested a “grunt” (infantry man) calling a “Major” (identifying him by rank and name) to say he “shot down the plane”. Not even the crudest of Arab militias do that. They will again, use code, “we have plucked the chicken” or “its raining in the fields” or something similar. Even in world war 1 and during the Napoleonic Wars and before they used code to avoid being implicated in anything foul. So much for the trash people believe without thinking.

    Now lets get back to Malaysia. China still will not permit anyone to enter their “protective zone” where many other military analysts believe MH 370 went down. There were credible eye witnesses and China would not allow even on humanitarian grounds civilian craft to search the area all of which it unlawfully claims to be its own. China has a history of refusing to disclose such information even where it has an international obligation to do so.

    The suspicion and the attacks on the Malaysian government’s performance in this matter is a poor political stunt by Malaysia’s opposition who are being more than opportunistic. Most of the articles including yours in Asia Times online Anil lacks analysis or balance.

    A response of “I stand by my comments” is simply not good enough or satisfactory from any standpoint.

  2. Bull is still bull, Julia – it does not matter what language is used. However I feel sorry for the people under the spotlight especially the Politicians, MAS officials and the Military. I agree with you that we should give these guys a break for the sake of the bigger picture. Imagine if we were the ones answering the questions. Could be worse.
    Its a most unfortunate incident and all of us should not worry or condemn, the way this this thing is being handled for lack of finesse but rather, I feel people should pray at this time that the aircraft be found and pray for the people left behind who are directly or indirectly connected to the ones on the plane.
    I also want to record my thanks to the countries helping Malaysia at this time. Lets not condemn them either for personal,political or religious reasons.
    Take care friends.

    • Her Cul Ese, we appreciate your concerns for those handling the long haul crisis, unprecedented in modern aviation history. Short of perfection in SAR effort, may we pray for a positive outcome in the face of daunting obstacles.
      Knee-‘jerks’ (emo-political reactionists) are what we least expected or welcome in this moment of uncertainty.

  3. Very interesting article on MH370 although criticism of the Malaysian officials lack of proficiency in the English language seems a bit unfair. Isn’t Malay the official language in Malaysia ? Surely it would be logical that the international press conferences are held in Malay, with interpreters. Nobody expects Francois Hollande to speak English, anymore than David Cameron bothers to speak French.Here in Europe many of us are impressed by the tireless effort and courtesy shown by the Malaysian officials in the face of the braying international media pack. To be suddenly thrust on the world stage is daunting enough, but to have to parry and thrust with a hostile press, in a language that is not one’s mother tongue,and in an unprecedented situation in which every word uttered is loaded and open to misinterpretation, must be truly fearsome.
    So please, at least for the duration of this drama, give these guys a break !

    • Nice to hear from you, julia.
      In times of crisis management, it is important to get to the solutions fast, whatever it takes.
      But over here, there are some knee-‘jerks’ born of emo-politikus highs & lows who unashamedly, in contradiction to their ‘shame of Malaysia’ lambasted those who have to face daily press conferences, notwithstanding the Q&A sessions.
      It’s more of an opportunistic politically motivated blame-game, a familiar tactic of some politicians whom you may not be familiar with.

  4. But, she added, she only realised that she may have spotted the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 after landing at the KL International Airport at 4pm and was told about the missing plane.

    “It looked like an aeroplane,” The Star quotes Raja Dalelah as saying. “Throughout the journey, I was staring out of the window of the aircraft as I couldn’t sleep during the flight.”

    Well, She must have super infra eye to see in the pitch dark ocean.

  5. Everybody seem to be seeing thing from the South China Sea to Thailand to Penang to Straits of Malacca to Andaman to Indian Ocean to Australia. Housewife: I spotted plane in Indian Ocean. Now what, blame Hisahm and the govt. Give Hisham and team a break please

  6. Sorry! It is the disclosing the plane’s turn back from its scheduled route toward an area near Penang in the west coast of the peninsula has exposed Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government that make the world laugh at Malaysia. The refusal to release the satellite data to public is the main problem of our government. Our military was overconfident with their own finding refused to accept the finding of our civilian aviation finding! Our aviation expert had earlier dismissed the suggestion that MH370 flew over Strait of Melacca and was detected near Pulau Perak. This denial was one day prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement to the world that MH370 was detected near Pulau Perak. Only under tremendous pressure from outside world that our Prime Minister finally released the satellite data to aviation experts.

  7. dear yang, I think I am one of the few left who still bother to talk to you.

    ya, am a nuisance and real stupid to do that.

    yang, before 505 you were strongly for Pakatan and condemned that good for nothing BN but now you turned around 180 degree and sing BN’s praises to the extent of making most readers viomitting.

    I just wonder how your colleagues and friends look at you now ???

    If one day I give up on Pakatan, I won’t betray my own conscience to sing the praises of that useless and corrupted to the core BN.

    All the best !!!

    • Come on man, Kee, This is not about Pakatan or BN. This is about MH370 and above politics.You do not betray your conscience if you give up Pakatan. You only betray your conscience if you betray your belief which has always been fairness, corruption and transparency and what Pakatan stood for. Ask yourself truly in the heart, does PR really stood for that. if yes, no problem go with it. As for me I do not believe Pakatan stood for that anymore so I have the right not to support it. I can turn 180 degree so what, my conscience state it very clear they are all the same. Whatever I think is right or good, I chose.

      Why should I sing praises of BN less so PR. I think i do need to do that anymore. It means I am free, yes free from the deceits of both, Anwar, LGE. Najib or so on. I am just putting forward that Hisahm is doing a very good job not BN and he is trying his best to solve the issue of MH370. This is unprecedented. Like I said, so many countries could not find it why still put the blame on Hisham or the govt. Look at my comments, did I ever mention PR or BN.

  8. Anil, why spin so hard and never stop kutuk negara sendiri ???

    Have you ever see Singapore, China, US using their COMBAT submarines to do SAR ??? Do you know what are the best tools for the SAR ??? Aside from lesser sonar capability (when using submarines vs ships), we also need to maintain “safe clearance” between submarines and ships in the SAR areas (to prevent collision) which defeating the purpose of having lots of ships with wide observation capability. If you don’t know a thing about submarines and SAR, please don’t comment too much. You look very very stupid, to be honest.

    Are you blinded by 2-coalition competition in Malaysia that is PR vs BN ???

  9. What is happening to our country when we have morons after morons politicizing a sad event for their political mileage of the govt. What crisis of credibility.?? This is an unprecedented event with more than 26 nations and about a hundred aircraft and ships searching a very wide areas. Even with such a huge armada and co-operation among the various govt working on the satellite, radar blip and ping, sighting etc it still lead to nowhere. Can we really blame our govt when some of the most advance nations like the US, Australia, China, Japan, France, Singapore, India etc etc could not even find a simple clue.

    Look at the many information that are proven incorrect such as the fisherman, oil rig workers sighting, Thai and air force blip, the Vietnamese sighting, a raft in Straits of Malacca, blip and ping here and there etc etc etc. Information must be corroborated before it is released. Some info although corroborated may not be correct such as the Australian sighting and many others. You cannot simply release any information as again these idiots will again zoom on the govt for lying when the info are not correct. Any which way these cari pasal opposition will do anything to derail the govt and Hisham and his team good intention and effort. Hisahm has said it loud and clear, this is above politics and the top priority is to find MH370. My advice is to these people if you do not know anything just shut up you … mouth instead of talking nonsense. If you do not like kangkung try something else. Your icon Anwar could give you a tip or 2

    • Yes we know there is grief, anger and anxiety amongst the families of MH370. Its too bad the aircraft could not be found and the govt is at a loss maybe except to console and provide whatever info and assistance at this critical time. The govt is sending a high level person to Beijing and explain, console and provide whatever assistance they can to the families. MAS chief has said that if the Australian sighting is proven correct MAS will immediately fly them to Australia. Let the govt, Hisham and his team continue with their work and until such time if you do not have anything concrete please don`t talk nonsense here for your tokong.

  10. Ha Ha

    And as I watched RTM TV1 News Anchorman (Ivan) who said : Usaha mencari MH370 yang DIKETUAI oleh Malaysia ……

    Malaysia media as usual boasting about our capability to the kampung folks !

    • If TLDM is to lead the salvage activity in the Indian Ocean, I think our GST next year would be higher than 6%.

      Hisham was quick to point out that the Malaysian submarines has no capability to be involved in the search and rescue in the Indian Ocean. We are still awaiting him to tell us the capability of TUDM and its primary radar in time of airspace intrusion.

      • Actually when they bought the submarine in 2009, an AFP report quoted navy officials as saying it could be used for both search and rescue as well as for military. Now they are saying it doesn’t have sonar etc.

  11. Kangkong land tenggelam, thanks to the leadership of a group of clowns !!!

    How can our once lovely country not tenggelam when the country ministers’ utterances are a pile of rubbish!!!

    How can a country not tenggelam when the leadership of a country knows no shame and only good at all the bukan-bukan…

    When the ordinary people in the street cant trust the judiciary anymore, that country is as good as tenggelam !!!

    Our country is now off radar too.

    Sad !!!

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