MH17: Matter beyond Buk missile

The timing of MH17’s final report release was a little off, it would have been way better to have the report(s) published while toll rates had not skyrocketed and the 1MDB scandal had not gone viral. This country has been overly troubled, minimal attention was paid to what MH17 final report had said. The only focus was “who is the culprit”.

Not a single news report questioned, based on the final report, whether Malaysia should bear some “non-legal” responsibility, what were our mistakes, or should Malaysia Airlines be blamed for their decision to fly over Ukraine. Not only until news.com.au under News Corp Australia, one of Australia’s largest media companies came out with an astonishing report stating that “Malaysia ‘suspended’ assistance and attempted to conduct its own probe to exonerate itself”, did the crowd stirred.

Notice the timeline: on October 13, MH17 final report was released, three days later news.com.au made that report, and four more days passed before it eventually attracted the attention of the local media. Do you see what has gone wrong? I was embarrassed by the fact that criticisms of Malaysia over the MH17 tragedy probe had originated from foreign media instead of our own. Adding to our shame, that piece of Australian news report was not based on exclusive resources that they happened to obtain, but on the very accessible MH17 final report portal, in particular a report on “MH17: About the investigation”.

I also wondered how many local media merely cited the Australian news reports, rather than referring to the final report to confirm the accusation, to quote the original statement, and to figure out the ins and outs of why assistance in MH17 investigation was suspended.

The Ministry of Transport had claimed that the “suspended assistance” happened mainly because the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) was not made a full member in the joint investigation. Malaysia was only granted limited access, and we cooperated when Dutch Safety Board (DSB) gave us full access. Meanwhile, the Minister of Transport insisted that Malaysia gave full support to DSB. But according to the final report, these were insufficient. A great deal of questions remain unanswered.

One of the most pressing ones is the bewilderment, according to the final report, of not receiving complete information from the Malaysian government in terms of passenger information and decision-making related to the flight route. To quote their conclusions, “the extent to which Malaysian intelligence services or government possessed information about the situation in the eastern part of Ukraine, did not become clear in the investigation into the flight route”.

Also, has it occurred to anyone, Dutch Safety Board was not only investigating the causes of MH17 incident which was stipulated in Chicago Convention, but also the decision-making related to the flight routes over conflict areas.

Does anyone still care about answering these questions in a responsible fashion, when we also need to deal with the announcement of 2016 budget, the confrontation between ruling and opposition parties in Parliament and the motion of no confidence?

In fact, the final report could have raised many questions. If you have read through the final report, you would probably ask
-Was it the responsibility of MAS not to assume that the unrestricted airspace over Ukraine was safe?
-To what extent the situation in the eastern Ukraine would constitute a reason for reconsidering the route?
-How could we rationalize the fact that Malaysia Airlines was not aware that U.S. aviation authority prohibited U.S operators and airmen from flying over Crimea, just because Malaysia Airlines no longer flies over the United States, and the airlines was not even aware of an Antonov An-26 flying above the eastern part of Ukraine was downed at an altitude of 6500 metres with a weapons system three days before the MH17 incident?

And many more, but the most important issue is, the Malaysian authorities should address the conclusion by DSB that “the Malaysian authorities did not consider that they had any role to play in identifying and managing risks in foreign airspace… When it came to further assessing foreign airspace, Malaysian Airlines had to rely on other sources than the Malaysian authorities.”

Sadly, I don’t think many people care about the aforementioned questions. Inevitably it turns out that the loss of 298 lives are still insufficient to make the country’s people ask, what lessons should we have learnt from this tragedy.

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