• Sat
  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 3:34pm
Malaysia Airlines flight 370
CommentInsight & Opinion

Why it's time for a rethink in hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines plane

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 4:22am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 10:23am

The families of the 239 passengers and crew on the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 have been shoddily treated. Malaysian authorities have been poor communicators, giving conflicting information that has only led to confusion. Other governments have put national security ahead of helping the investigation, leading to a lack of data and co-ordination that has only furthered the frustration. Never before has a plane disappeared in such mysterious circumstances, but that is no excuse for self-interest and heartlessness.

An effective search strategy requires governments and their agencies, the airline, the aircraft manufacturer and foreign entities working together. The manner in which events have unfolded makes it clear that Malaysia's military has been keeping information from authorities. Data collected by other militaries from satellite and radar has been anonymously released or not shared. Had the response been more capably handled, wasted time and effort could have been avoided. Valuable resources could have been better deployed.

Militaries have been unwilling to hand over information out of fear that by doing so they would be letting rivals know about their technological capabilities. Finding the plane and its passengers has appeared of secondary consideration. Relatives and the media want answers, but the silence, delays and false leads has led only to speculation and guesswork. The focus has shifted with each new piece of information, the search having been widened from the South China Sea to the Strait of Malacca and the Indian Ocean, and northwest as far as Turkmenistan, a vast area that now involves 26 governments.

International rules require the country to which a missing aircraft is registered to be in charge of the investigation. But the Malaysian government has insufficient capabilities, technologies and experience to properly deal with so extraordinary an incident. The confusing daily briefings have led to a lack of faith in the country's ability to lead.

Given Malaysia's struggles, perhaps it is time for a rethink. The world should consider a properly managed, independent organisation to take charge of co-ordination of challenging searches and investigations. In the meantime, the co-operation and information-sharing that should have been taking place from the start with flight MH370 has to begin in earnest. Finding out what befell the plane and the people on board has to finally take precedence over national interests.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

First this editor suggested that China takes over the search and now comes up with a slightly different variation but it's the same point - the Malaysians are "covering up" and not telling the turth. Has this newspaper's editorial become the party mouthpiece?
The only conspiracy here is the Chinese conspiracy of spinning numerous conspiracy theories which lack any credibility.
The plain truth is: a pilot or passenger deliberately crashed MH 370 into the Indian Ocean for some reason, which we'll know one day.
The Malaysian authorities or the Airline have nothing to do with such a tragedy which would only damage their own reputation (this seems to be lost on the media conspirators). The Search and Information related to this case has been very open in the public with so many countries involved that it's hard for the Malaysians to hide anything. This is not China. Information flow here is mostly free and open, except for those that involves intelligence and defense capabilities of the nations involved in the search.
Contrast that with the way numerous Chinese aircrashes and the high-speed train crash were handled in China. Little information is available under the cloak of state secret.
Whereas in this case, information is being made public real time by the investigators, which include the Malaysian, US and other governments. Everyday we learn a bit more of this tragedy. Some people just want to make political gain out of the suffering of others
Well said.
An experienced pilot has a very plausible and quite likely explanation for the aircraft's disappearance :- The aircraft was heavy leaving KL so the landing gear tyres were under-inflated and probably overheated; resulting in a puncture and slow burning. After the landing gear is up the smoke from the fire would enter the aircraft from the wheel well.The rest of the possible scenario is contained in the pilot's theory here:- ****www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/
And yet, don't we already know that the military powers that be will be even more reluctant to share information with an independent body of investigation (and in military thinking this automatically means "enemy spies" ). since when do any Military Intelligence Services put people above their "duty" to national security. isn't there an inherent contradiction there ? let's just be lucid and realize that whatever information the various Militaries involved in this case have not given, and then too late, has only showcased the unhelpful cooperation that the civil aviation bodies are dealing with.
Who stands to gain if the plane and its passengers are never found? The aircraft manufacturer and the airline operator and its largest shareholder (the Malaysian Government), and, for a considerable time in the future, the insurers.


SCMP.com Account