KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 – The Malaysian government has spent RM27.6 million on logistic costs for Malaysian security forces in the search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane, Flight MH370. Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the costs covered the food and drinks and fuel supply for the security forces involved like the Malaysian Army, Royal Malaysian Air Force, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Royal Malaysian Navy.
“The costs borne by Malaysia at the early stage involved food and drinks and fuel….and the overall cost (for the first phase) came to RM27.6 million. “When people question the costs, I will disclose it today. I am actually proud, perhaps because we are sincere, we have no ego, and we know we have limitations in the search and approach, many parties came forward to assist for free,” he told a news conference at Parliament building, here, Monday. Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister, explained that the total cost had not been finalised yet as the search was on-going and had now entered phase two involving searching for the missing airliner in the deep ocean. Asked on the decision of the families of passengers on MH370 who wanted to collect funds to hire private investigators, Hishammuddin said: “I have no problem with that. I don’t deny that the most difficult thing for me is facing the family members. “I am touched by their effort to collect funds for investigation purpose and so on. “And I feel that is perhaps one way they could contribute and for our search efforts to be inclusive.”
Recently, it was reported that Sarah Bajc, the girlfriend of Philip Woods, one of the passengers on MH370, had launched a crowdsourcing campaign to hire informants and private investigators to reveal important details on the investigation into MH370. Earlier, in reply to a question from Fong Kui Lun (DAP-Bukit Bintang) in the Dewan Rakyat, Hishammuddin said for phase two of the search operation, Malaysia would be sending a delegation to Canberra, Australia to discuss with the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) and the countries involved in the operation, on the new search location for the missing aircraft. He said all the four deputy ministers heading their respective ministerial committees would then go to Beijing, China to look into all MH370-related matters including explaining to the people there on the search operation. “It will be explained that the search is not Malaysia’s task and responsibility solely but of all the countries involved, including Asean member states which have expressed their full support for the mission,” he said. Fong had asked on the steps taken by the government to restore public confidence to choose to fly on Malaysia Airlines.
The Malaysian delegation, led by Communications and Multimedia Deputy Minister Datuk Jailani Johari, will also include Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin who heads the committee on the MH370 passengers’ next of kin, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi who heads the committee overseeing the technical aspects and the formation of and appointment of the investigation team, and Deputy Defence Minister who heads the committee on sending of assets for the search operation. To Fong’s question on the amount of compensation paid to the passengers’ next of kin, Hishammuddin said MAS did not wish to reveal the details to the public in respecting the feelings and in consideration of the safety of the next of kin. He said MAS had initiated discussions on the advance compensation for the MH370 passengers’ next of kin, and all details on the compensation were kept between MAS, next of kin and the lawyers appointed by the next of kin.