The case of Flight 370

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Sunday, March 16, 2014


MALAYSIAN Airlines Flight 370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, has yet to be found eight days since it disappeared en route to Beijing, China from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

Yesterday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced they are abandoning their search for the plane in the South China Sea.

He confirmed that someone on the plane deliberately turned off its communication system and the transponder. He said the plane turned back and flew in a westerly direction before heading northwest.

Fourteen nations are now involved in the search that will focus on two corridors. The northern corridor stretches from Kazakhstan to northern Thailand, while the southern corridor stretches from Indonesia to the south Indian Ocean.

The prime minister began the press conference by reaching out to the families of the passengers, and thanking the nations for their help in locating the plane. He reiterated that his government, which has been handling the investigation since day one, has been cooperating with international agencies.

Was it just me or did he seem a little defensive about his government’s handling of the investigation?

Malaysia received several criticisms for allegedly shutting out foreign experts. Earlier in the week, an American official (I failed to catch his name but he was interviewed on Bloomberg) said members of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were already in the Malaysian capital but they would not get involved in the investigation unless the Malaysian government invited them. And it had not.

The same official said many foreign experts were willing to help but they felt their assistance was rebuffed.

It may have been a matter of national pride, the anchor explained. The official admitted that everyone in the airline industry was mystified by the plane’s disappearance. He then went on to wonder if the Malaysian government was giving the world all the facts.

A couple of days ago, a CNN anchor said the Malaysian government may have been “overwhelmed” by the scope of the event.

I remember the press conference on the morning the plane went missing. Again, I didn’t catch the Malaysian official’s name but he strutted around the podium like a peacock, glaring at the members of the media who dared to ask him questions about the missing plane.

What arrogance. Reminded me of how President Benigno Aquino III responded to questions after super typhoon Yolanda devastated parts of Cebu, Leyte and Eastern Samar. (Wink)
I haven’t been to Malaysia but a friend of mine who has said it has certainly left the Philippines behind in terms of economic development.
Its per capita income PPP (purchasing power parity) is $16,499 compared to the Philippines’ $3,802 (2012 figures).

Its capital used to be home to the world’s tallest building (Petronas Tower 1 and 2). It has a state-of-the-airport 45 kilometers from the center of Kuala Lumpur built at a cost of $3.5 billion.

According to Wikipedia, “the airport can handle 40 million passengers and 1.2 million tons of cargo. In 2010, it handled 34,087,636 passengers; in 2011 it handled 669,849 metric tons of cargo. It was ranked the ninth busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic, and is the fourth busiest airport in Asia. It was ranked the 19th busiest airport by cargo traffic in 2010.”

The volume of passengers the airport handles might explain how someone was able to sneak on board Flight 370 and divert its flight path.

And no. This column is not about me feeling schadenfraude at Malaysia’s current predicament.

I’m hoping they find the plane soon, whether intact or not. That way, the families of the passengers can get closure. And so can the rest of the world.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 16, 2014.

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