PUTRAJAYA, Sept 6, – Malaysia and Australia have committed to contribute A$60 million (RM179.10 million) each in their quest to locate the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH370 aircraft whose flight path was believed to have ended in the southern Indian Ocean on March 8. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the contribution was part of the new underwater search phase for the aircraft in the remote ocean sea bed. “It will utilise the best available technology,” he said, in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak here today. Abbott is on a one-day official visit to Malaysia on Saturday to discuss bilateral issues, including the missing MH370, the downing of MH17 in eastern Ukraine and trade arrangement.
Flight MH370, which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8, and disappeared from radar about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day. A multinational search was mounted for the aircraft in the South China Sea and Andaman Sea before Najib announced on March 24 that Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”. The search for the aircraft is ongoing. Abbot said Australia had intended to build a memorial or monument to honour those on board the MH370 flight in the Australian western coastline. “But it must be subject to the Malaysian Government and (consent of) the (victims’) families,” he said.
Meanwhile, Najib said during the fruitful meeting, he and Abbott had reaffirmed their commitment and unwavering support to continue with the search for the aircraft. Najib also expressed profound gratitude, on behalf of the Malaysian Government and its people for the leadership role played by the Australian Government, including its ongoing support and resources dedicated in the complex and challenging exercise to search for MH370. “In this regard, we recall the signing of the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Australia, in relation to MH370, which provides the framework and broad parameters for cooperation in the search for MH370,” he said.
Meanwhile, Abbott said Malaysia responded to the double aviation tragedies with strength and resilience while acknowledging Najib’s wisdom, strength and leadership in dealing with them. “I could not have asked for an adviser or a stronger friend and counsellor in this testing and difficult time, and thank him (Najib) for this friendship and his leadership,” he said. Abbott, who engaged in talks with Najib earlier, vowed that they would not give up the search for the vanished MH370 aircraft. “We owe to the families of those lost, we owe to the grieving countries, we owe to the curious all over the world, to do whatever we can, to resolve this mystery (of the missing MH370). “We will not rest until it is resolved… Australia-Malaysia will be the strongest possible partners in this important task,” Abbott said.
“I have a lot of respect for Prime Minister Abbott as a colleague. His response to these two tragedies has been resolute and he has shown admirable empathy for the affected families of the MH370 and MH17 victims,” Najib had said. Najib reiterated that Australia had proven itself an invaluable friend during these difficult times, having offered its assistance and cooperation without hesitation or delay. Najib said he and Abbott expressed great pleasure with the current state of Malaysia-Australia bilateral relations, characterised by long standing and substantive cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, education, defence and security. “Today’s meeting has given both sides a sense of commitment to strengthen and enhance the existing level and scope of cooperation between Malaysia and Australia,” he said.