Voice of the Valley: Ghosts of MAS twin aviation tragedies linger on

Voice of the Valley, as published in Malay Mail today.

Voice of the Valley
By Pearl Lee

ON March 8, the world will be reminded of MH370 — the ill-fated Beijing bound flight which went missing barely an hour after taking off from the KL International Airport. 

A dozen of theories and a year later, the whereabouts of the Boeing 777 jetliner remains unknown. Despite a massive underwater search in the Indian Ocean, not a single body or debris from the plane has resurfaced. 
This has made it difficult for the families to accept the fate that has befallen their loved ones. 

Sarah Bajc, whose partner Phillip Wood was aboard the flight is still holding on to hope that she will meet him again. She had in reports said that she cannot move on until Wood returns, even if it is just his remains. 

On her Facebook page last month, she posted: “Good evening blue eyes. A year ago today I kissed you goodbye in KL to return to finish up my work in Beijing. We were sad to be parting for a month, but excited by the future we had planned together. How can it already be a year since we shared a meal, conversation, laughter, a bed. It has been a very long, very bad dream. I want to wake up and have you back beside me. I miss you so much. Please come home, love. I am lost without you.”

The declaration by the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation in January that MH370 was an accident, in accordance with the Standards to Annexes 12 and 13 of the Chicago Convention, and that all 239 passengers and crew on board are presumed to have lost their lives have not gone down well for the families who are still desperately seeking for answers. 

Indian national K.S. Narendran is one of them.

Narendran, whose wife Chandrika Sharma was a passenger on the plane, said the announcement offered no closure to him. He was quoted in a report as saying: “Everything is wide and open and still muddled as no one knows what happened, why it happened, who let it happen and where the plane is.”

Last week, the Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said the search and recovery of the plane in the remote area of Indian Ocean has covered over 24,000 sq km of the seafloor, which is about 40 per cent of the priority search area.

The agency also said the current underwater search area may be completed in May, if there were no issues surrounding the deployment of vessels, equipment and weather.

The next-of-kin of those onboard MH17 too are looking for answers after the plane was downed on July 17 last year. Close to eight months after the incident, no one has been identified as the party responsible over the tragedy which robbed 298 lives. 

The blame game between Russia and Ukraine started almost immediately after the plane, which was enroute to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, crashed — and the war of words continue till today. 

It was reported in December that several frustrated relatives demanded for a special UN envoy to take over investigations from the Dutch over claims that the latter had “mishandled the inquiries into the disaster”.
The report said: “Twenty relatives from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the US accused the Netherlands of ‘completely botching’ the fact-finding investigation and the legal framework of the case.”

The accusations, according to the reports, stemmed as Dutch investigators were unable to access the crash site, torn by an internal conflict between Kiev and self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. 

The Dutch government leads the criminal and civil investigations into the crash. They, however, rejected the request saying investigation by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) were being carried out not only by Dutch investigators but 11 other countries including Malaysia, Ukraine and Russia. 

It is devastating to note that human remains and personal belongings of victims were still being recovered at the crash site last month — a process which the authorities have repeatedly said was due to the political unrest in the region.

DSB announced it will be attending to families of victims who were invited to the Royal Netherlands Air Force base in Gilze-Rijen, starting tomorrow, to view pieces of wreckage which were recovered from the crash site in Donestsk. 

But there is still no concrete answers if the plane had been mistakenly or deliberately shot down.

Evidently, it has been difficult to move forward when no concrete answers are provided to the families whose lives have been torn apart following these disasters.

While the world may spare a moment of silence come March 8 and subsequently on July 17, there will never be closure for the families and relatives on board those planes until they get the answers they are looking for.

Lest we forget, let there be closure for the families of the 537 passengers onboard MH370 and MH17.

Pearl is news editor at Malay Mail. She can be reached at pearl@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @pearllee22

Relatives of Chinese passengers onboard MH370 offer prayers at the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The visit to the temple comes nearly a year after the plane went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. — Picture by Hafiz Sohaimi


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