HONOLULU, April 3 – There is a need to relook the civil aviation sector with a view to enhancing it and plugging loopholes along the way, in the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. In stating this, Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the security and defence landscapes would also need to be revisited to address what might be perceived as weaknesses, in light of the plane’s vanishing over three weeks ago.

“We may have to look at matters such as satellites, radar link-up with the necessary expertise, as well as asset acquisition,” Hishammuddin, who is also Malaysia’s acting transport minister, told Bernama here Wednesday. He is here to attend the first United States-Asean Defence Forum convened by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel. The event proper scheduled for Thursday was preceded by the non-traditional security roundtable on Wednesday.

The Beijing-bound Flight MH370 with 239 people on board vanished mid-flight over the South China Sea after taking off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am on March 8. The massive international hunt for the aircraft which is believed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean is being conducted west of Perth, Australia. Sharing what transpired during his interactions here with regard to MH370, Hishammuddin said: “We were discussing about the future, about the next phase – not that we’re praying for such time to come.

“We’re taking the technology that’s available, who has it, what needs to be done. And this calls for sharing of expertise among Asean countries,” he said. In remarks made in Perth on Thursday, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said ten aircraft and nine ships were scouring the Indian Ocean for any sign of the missing plane. On the presence of Asean defence ministers in Hawaii, Hishammuddin noted that Asean was here at the forum as a bloc. “My point is that if we’re on our own individually, nobody will care about us,” he said. The defence minister drove home the point that a united Asean would command respect and this would lead to other countries being more forthcoming to render any support and assistance in its hour of need.

– Photo By: The Star Publication (M)

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