By Lim Kit Siang, MP for Gelang Patah
This is the 24th day in the fourth week of the multi-national sea and air search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, with today’s search outcome by a total of 10 aircraft and 10 ships from Australia, Malaysia, US, China, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea as empty-handed and fruitless as the earlier 23 days.
Except there is now an element of desperation as the search is in a race against time, with only about two weeks left to find the aircraft’s pair of black boxes before they stop emitting locator pings.
The boxes, designed to ‘ping’ for at least 30 days, contain sounds recorded in the cockpit and data on the plane’s performance and flight path that could help answer why it diverted sharply west from its overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8th March.
What has made the new search area 1,100 km north east of the old site in the southern Indian Ocean frustrating is that it contained a higher volume of ocean trash that may be mistaken for wreckage.
The present search zone has been described as an area of the Indian Ocean where currents drag in all manner of flotsam and rubbish – what an oceanographer has described as “just outside what we call the garbage patches”.
Today’s media carried a report from Washington quoting “senior US lawmakers” as saying that US investigators had found no evidence thus far pointing to terrorism in the disappearance of Flight MH370 more than three weeks ago, and that it was critical to find the plane to understand what happened on board.
The two “senior US lawmakers” quoted are the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein who told Sunday talk shows that they had seen no evidence of foul play.
Roger said: “I have seen nothing yet that comes out of the investigation that would lead me to conclude that (this was) …anything other than a normal flight that something happened and something went wrong.”
Separately, Feinstein told another TV talk show that she had not seen any evidence indicating a terrorist act brought the airplane down.
US officials close to the investigation said the FBI examined data it received from a home-made flight simulator and other computer equipment used by MH370’s pilots, but found nothing illuminating.
Clearly, US lawmakers are kept in the loop in the US investigations into the missing MH370 and are regularly informed of the latest updates, which is not the case with their Malaysian counterparts as Malaysian Members of Parliament, whether from BN or PR, are kept completely in the dark about the developments of the MH370 disaster crisis – although a Malaysian airliner is in the centre of the longest and largest-ever global multi-national sea, air and satellite search for the missing Boeing 777.
This attitude must change. The Government has still to respond to my call that regardless of whether the “black boxes” are retrieved or not, a Parliamentary Select Committee on MH370 disaster should be set up and be prepared to start work and investigations six to eight weeks from March 8.
This has become even more imperative with the report that a scientist who was part of the team to develop the black box was very dubious that the MH370 “black boxes” would be found.
The scientist, Bill Schofield, told Xinhua news agency in an interview: “I’ve got to say I think their chances of finding this black box in very deep water when they don’t know where it went down within an area of 1,000 km, are practically nil.”