Well, it’s been over a week since Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 disappeared flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. I for one certainly expected the worst outcome, but needless to say this story gets more bizarre as the days linger on.
First was the assertion it had crashed into the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam, spurring many countries to (fruitlessly) search an area in an exercise of futility. The shambolic handling of the situation by the ruling party in Malaysia not only has irritated the countries involved in the search and rescue operations but the Malaysian populace as a whole.
A friend of mine who spends extensive time in Malaysia told me third-hand about a recent meeting between one of the Ministers and the victims families in Kuala Lumpur. The families are so frustrated with the bumbling Malaysian government that they took out their emotions by throwing water bottles at the official. He should be fortunate it was not the Middle East or else he would be dodging some pretty hefty shoes.
For those who don’t know the major newspapers in Malaysia are often aligned with the government, so they are used to being able to “handle the media” their own way. However the influx of international media and reporters who aren’t afraid to ask the questions seems to be a little unnerving for Malaysian officials, unable to handle real reporters or making major media gaffes.
Next we learned that the plane had “turned back” and put it’s last location somewhere in the Straits of Malacca. Why and how Malaysia allowed a now un-identified aircraft (after it’s transponder was turned off) to fly back into Malaysian airspace, over the Malaysian peninsula without any the air force scrambling interceptors leaves me scratching my head? Was everyone in the Royal Malaysian Air Force sleeping or off for the weekend?
Then came the fact that the Rolls-Royce Engines had been pinging via Inmarsat for some 4 to 5 hours after the transponder had been turned off. Malaysian Airlines was not a “subscriber” to the enhanced engine management system which may have given more detailed information, but the system still sent “keepalive” packets nonetheless indicating that engines were still had power (even if they were on terra firma).
The Malaysian government denied these “pings” at first, although it was the Wall Street Journal which really broke this new angle (and has been doing a great job on the reporting)… the government then backtracked and agreed with the assessments provided by other countries.
With the actions of the aircraft now seen as “deliberate” the possible areas where the plane, whether it crashed or (hopefully) landed extends as far north as Kazakhstan and far south into the Indian Ocean.
Rumour and speculation seems to be taking the place of facts in the absence of transparency and the willingness to be forthcoming from the Malaysian officials. The latest wild speculation is that one of the pilots deliberately took the plane from it’s path as a form of “political protest”. The Mirror tabloid in the UK is alleging that the Captain was a strong supported of Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the Opposition in Malaysia who was convicted of sodomy a day before the Captain piloted MH 370. The article can be found here.
This story has taken so many twists and turns, I don’t think even the best Hollywood writers could even come up with this. What is clear that whoever was in control of that aircraft after initial contact was lost was very intimately aware of the aircraft and it’s systems.
While I still think things look grim for the fate of the passengers and crew, it’s still anyone’s guess how this one will end up.