March 25, 2014 – Malaysia, which has attracted criticism from the international media over its handling of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappearance, has found a defender in CNN aviation expert, Richard Quest. As grieving Chinese families continued to slam Malaysia accusing it failing to provide information that could have speeded search operations, Quest said on Twitter. “The Malaysians would be damned if they did release info and damned if they don’t.”
Earlier, he tweeted that mistakes were made by Malaysia “BUT this incident is unprecedented”, he tweeted. In one tweet, Quest acknowledged that Malaysians were in a unique circumstance and in another, he said “it is ridiculous to pretend that this investigation has been a disaster”. He also tweeted that no one in their right mind would have expect MH370 to be 2,500km in the opposite direction of where it was flying, without any radar or warning. Replying to a tweet, Quest again defended Malaysia’s investigation efforts which critics say had been slow. “They were checking the accuracy and details. Would you have preferred they just went on a hunch?” he asked.
Quest also dismissed as “silly” a suggestion that only first world countries investigate the missing plane incident. “The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency), the BEA (Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses), the AAIB (Air Accidents Investigation Bureau) are all accredited and taking part. It’s silly to suggest that only 1st world countries should investigate.” Quest, however, questioned the Malaysian military for missing the flight on its radars. “THAT is a scandal,” he wrote. Quest had previously flown with Fariq Abdul Hamid, the first officer for MH370, who was transitioning to the larger Boeing 777 on a flight from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur on February 19.
Filming a CNN Business Traveller programme on board the flight at the time, Quest spent some time in the cockpit with Fariq, whose landing skill he praised as “textbook-perfect”. Quest’s defence of the Malaysian authorities comes as relatives of the Chinese passengers staged a protest in Beijing, condemning Malaysia for the “murder” of the passengers. China has meanwhile demanded that Malaysia hand over the radar data which concluded that the plane’s final location was somewhere in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean.
There had also been questions on why the Malaysian military failed to react immediately when its radar detected an unidentified aircraft flying over its airspace towards the Strait of Malacca in the early morning hours of March 8. MH370 was flying from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing on March 8 with 227 passengers and 12 crew members, when it dropped off the radar while flying over the South China Sea in the Gulf of Thailand. Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the flight had “ended” in a remote area in the Indian Ocean, where there are no sites for landing. MAS has informed the families of those on board that there were no survivors.