SUBANG JAYA, May 18 – Families of crew members on the missing flight MH370 today alleged that the MAS management had stopped the caregiver services to them via an email on Friday (May 16). Apart from furnishing information on the search mission, the caregivers also helped the families of the crew by assisting them with flight bookings, payments and travel arrangements since the aircraft went missing on March 8. Melanie Antonio, 45, wife of chief steward Andrew Nari, said all matters related to the latest information on MH370 and welfare of the families and compensation was to be done by a lawyer for MAS.
“All matters such as updates on the search and rescue operations for MH370 including medical and even flight ticketing must go through a lawyer,” she said at a news conference which was also attended by her daughter Maira Elizabeth Nari, 18, and five other crew members’ families. She said the situation was now complicated as family members wanting to get any assistance from the MAS management needed to go through a long process. Melanie claimed the caregiver service which was a ‘lifeline’ to them was stopped because she and six other crew members’ families had engaged a lawyer in April to seek legal advice.
“After MAS learned of the appointment of the counsel for any information on MH370, we need to go through our lawyer who in turn will then inform the lawyer appointed byMAS. Will this not complicate matters further when we are still grieving over the loss of our loved ones?” asked Melanie. Meanwhile, Lee Khim Fatt, the husband of flight attendant Foong Wai Yueng, said the action to stop the caregiver service was an injustice to the families involved. Lee pointed out that the appointment of a counsel was only as a legal adviser in signing various documents relating to MH370 as there were legal terms that they did not understand.
Calvin Shim, the husband of flight attendant Christine Tan, requested that the MASmanagement keep in touch with the family members of the crew and continue to communicate the latest developments on MH370 SAR operations every day. Shim claimed the last time there were updates on the status of the MH370 investigations was on May 1 and after that until now they had not received any information from MASand they depended on the newspapers for any information on the matter.
He, however, thanked the Malaysian government and acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for their continuous assistance and updates on the issue, and striving to find the missing aircraft. The MAS management, however, could not be contacted for response on the family members’ claims. Flight MH370, with 239 people onboard, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am the same day.
A multinational search was mounted for the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then, after it was learnt that the plane had veered off course, in the southern Indian Ocean. After an analysis of satellite data indicated that the plane’s last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced on March 24 that Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.