Opinions

Relative of MH370 victim started a Reddit online thread, reveals post incident insights

[Update: 10:40am Wednesday: The original responses by the Malaysian on the thread have been deleted due to “insufficient proof”. The responses here are accurate as of the time of the writing at 7:00pm Tuesday 29th April 2014]

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So the nation has been discussing this for quite a while: how can a plane as big as the MH370 just vanish into thin air? Weeks after the incident, there are still no signs of the plane. There were a lot of discussions too on how Malaysia as well as the Malaysia Airlines handled their communications with the public as well as with the family of the victims.

A Malaysian took to popular Internet site Reddit and created a discussion thread yesterday called “Ask Me Anything”. The thread, called My sister was on the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 from KL to Beijing on March 8. Ask me Anythingrose to the top of the Reddit topic threads and managed to attract questions from netizens around the world who were curious to find out more about the incident.

Image Credit: The Star
Image Credit: The Star

The Malaysian, who started the thread, decided through to remain anonymous, stating that after 52 days since the incident of the lost plane, he/she decided to do an AmA on Reddit, “however small that gesture is”.

“I hope that this will shed some light on the incompetency and underhandedness exhibited by the airline and the Malaysian government that the NOKs (next of kins) and my family have personally experienced during this time, in addition to the behaviour of certain third parties looking to profit from this incident.”

The top most voted comment of the discussion thread was by a user named ‘danzipen’, who asked if anything was hidden from public knowledge.

Here are some of the questions and answers of the thread.

Q: Hi, sorry for your loss. My question is; did you as a close relative, know anything that the public didn’t?

A: No, other than the infamous SMS that was sent to all next of kin very, very shortly before the Prime Minister Najib’s statement that the plane was lost, nothing has been made known to us before the public. For my family and I, we tend to rely on major news outlets for the latest developments on the story rather than anything sent to us by the government or airline.

Q: Do you think the SMS method was disrespectful? [..] What are your personal views seeing this from the other side? Please don’t take offense or see my comment as an attack – it is simply my opinion of the times. 100 years ago a phone call may have seemed offensive. Is it the same thing? Do we just need more time to accept the technology?

A: I thought that the SMS method was disrespectful purely because the government should really have contacted Malaysian Airlines much longer beforehand and allowed them to properly inform all next of kin before going public with the announcement.

Of course, we don’t know what kind of notice the government gave, whether they gave it an hour before the announcement, or whether Malaysian Airlines knew the day before. Either way, I think it was disrespectful or short-sighted on the part of one of the two.

Also read: Missing MH370?s communication systems was deliberately switched off, PM Najib says

MH370

Q: Hey, managed to get here pretty quickly, here are my questions;

  1. Has this case had any effect on you or people around you in regards to flying, are you more scared, aware, or has nothing changed?
  2. Also, what is your opinion on how long it is taking to follow up on any leads and actually find the Aircraft?

Thanks for doing this AMA, it must be difficult for you at the time, I hope we all get answers soon, people involved like you deserve them.

A:

  1. I’ve flown 4 times since the incident due to work. I don’t know about all the affected families, but I’m not aware of anyone who has developed Pteromerhanophobia (yes I googled that) due to the incident yet. However, at KLIA, I’ve seen nothing to suggest security measures have been substantially improved or changed at all since March 8.
  2. As a next of kin, my opinion is that the Malaysian government took far too long to act on any information during the crucial period after all contact was lost with the plane during the handoff to Vietnamese traffic control. During a Q&A session in March for relatives of passengers, the air force colonel attending claimed that the plane was detected on Malaysian radar screens heading over the peninsula but no jets were scrambled to intercept as ‘it was not deemed hostile.’

This is unforgivable to me, as it shows the lack of proper communication between ATC and the military. Even if ATC was not aware, this shows the delayed response by the authorities directly after the incident. ATC should really have notified AF and military immediately after loss of contact. In addition, the search was focused in the South China sea for over a week until it was found that the plane had crossed peninsular Malaysia heading West, wasting valuable search time – which could have been avoided by proper communication and a fast response time.

The lack of transparency surrounding this whole thing has lead to an extreme muddiness about the events unfolding immediately after loss of contact of MH370, even to the next of kin, which is maddening.

355264_Airliner-MH370

Q: What do you think happened to the plane?

A:  I can’t even definitively say which path I think the plane took. Personally, I think and hope that the plane went Northward. This may be controversial and seem nonsensical, but I have a couple of reasons

First things first, evidence: I have heard nothing to suggest that the plane went along the Southern arc other than the analysis from Inmarsat, who refuse to make their data public so it can be corroborated by independent bodies despite multiple requests from my fellow next of kin and I.

In addition, I have been following the very detailed daily posts of Duncan Steel (although some of his posts are beyond me!), who suggests the (publicly available) Inmarsat data is insufficient to distinguish between a northern and southern flight path. (Of course they may have unreleased data that compels them to draw this conclusion). I would highly recommend reading through his posts if you are technically inclined and should have the time to. Couple this with the distinct lack of physical evidence and I don’t think it is a stretch to say that it is a forgone conclusion that the plane took a Southern path.

Secondly, I can’t think of a scenario in which the plane would have gone Southward and ended up in the southern Indian ocean having last been sighted by radar on a northward trajectory.

  • Pilot suicide? Why go to the trouble of the convoluted flight plan and evasion of radar?
  • Sudden electrical fire? I think it unlikely that a fire broke out that was selective enough to disable all communications systems in a very short period of time, and leave the plane operational for ~7 more hours.
  • Attempted hijacking? Perhaps, but background checks on passengers have found nothing, there are not many high-value targets in Malaysia, and nothing has been claimed by any organization.
  • Remote-control hijacking, as is the new theory in vogue? I think there are far easier and more convenient target flights rather than a flight so far away from the southern Indian ocean.

This is just personal speculation and may be driven by sentiment, but it is my hope that the plane did indeed head northward, because I feel there is a greater possibility of survivors if it did so rather than being lost in the Southern Indian ocean.

Q: I am very sorry for your loss. What is something you would want to know if you were us, but that we might not think to ask?

A: If we are restricting this to what your average NOK would know, then as a member of the public, I would want to know if the Malaysian government has been making any efforts to draw a line under this incident, to which the answer is yes.

Insurance payouts for the missing passengers have been approved, and at a closed-door gathering falsely styled as a ‘technical briefing’ last Sunday, Hamzah Zainuddin, head of the next of kin committee, much to our bewilderment, asked us to rather ambiguously to ‘name him a figure’ and send to it his email and said that he would bring it up with Parliament. No one responded verbally to his offer (at least during the meeting to the best of my knowledge), he initiated the question, and he goes to the media to claim after the meeting that we have already proposed figures to him.

Malaysia Plane

Q: I recall the Malaysian government mentioned something about “discovering something that they could not announce to the public.” Were the families informed of what exactly this was?

A: I’ve heard the phrase “there are some things I can’t tell you right now” more times than I can count over the past 2 months, both at media press conferences and at NOK closed door meetings, and the NOKs are not being informed of any developments substantially faster or more in depth than what you would read on a reputable news source.

Edit: Some of the NOKs have received daily update emails from Malaysian Airlines and now the JACC, but they reveal nothing much deeper than the mainstream news.

You can read the full thread here on Reddit.

Also read: Does Malaysia Airlines instill confidence in its handling of MH370 incident?

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