KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 – Words like “Crash” or “no survivors” had never been mentioned by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when announcing that flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean on March 24. This was clarified by acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein during a routine media conference today, following demands of apology from the families of Chinese passengers, from the Malaysian government.
“Part of the reason for that request is an allegation that the prime minister or the government had stated that the plane had actually crashed and that there were no survivors. “That is totally erroneous… There was no mention of a crash or no survivors,” he said quoting Najib’s statement on March 24. The Malaysian Boeing 777-200ER, with 239 passengers and crew on board, vanished on March 8, about an hour after the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight took off from the KL International Airport at 12.41am.
On March 24, Najib had announced that (the flight path of) Flight MH370 ended in a remote region of the southern Indian Ocean based on detailed analyses of satellite data. The announcement had sparked frustration among many relatives of passengers on board the missing aircraft, urging the authorities to arrive at concrete evidence in its findings. Hishammuddin, who is also the Defence Minister, said the search for debris spotted by satellite that could be possibly linked to the Malaysia Airlines jetliner would continue.
Though the debris recovered from the Indian Ocean was found to have no relation to the missing plane, Hishammuddin said there would be no timeline for the search operation. “We need to be fair to the families (of the passengers and crew). No letting up at the moment. What happens later, we have discussed but it is not appropriate to share with the public,” he said. During the media conference, several foreign press have asked Hishammuddin to clarify the graphic information of the air turn back made by MH370 released during the family briefing in Beijing.
“I cannot confirm. I’m not going to debate about it here. The family briefing was closed-door,” answered Hishammuddin. On every technical question on MH370, Hishammuddin reiterated that it could only be answered when the blackbox is found. “Time is running out, as far as the signal coming out from the blackbox, if it is indeed in the southern Indian Ocean,” he said. Hishammuddin also thanked the Australian authorities for their cooperation and commitment in leading the search operation in the southern corridor. “I want to not only thank but request they continue against a lot of challenges in terms of weather and distance. But I see that everyday they have not let any of us down especially the families,” he said.