Malaysia blamed in MH370 'mystery'

Malaysian officials answer questions during a 13 March, 2014, press conference on the disappearance of flight MH370. Malaysian government officials have become the focus of frustration following the disappearance of flight MH370

It now has been almost six full days since flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared without a trace. The plane's fate has become a hot topic for commentators and pundits around the world.

"Frustration over the fruitless search has increasingly been directed at Malaysian officials after a series of fumbling news conferences, incorrect details given by the national airline, and a long delay in divulging details of the military's tracking of what could have been the plane hundreds of miles off course," writes Stuart Grudgings of Reuters.

The criticism of Malaysian officials has gone beyond focusing solely on the response to this particular story and identifies institutional problems.

"The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has challenged the country's paternalistic political culture and exposed its coddled leaders to the withering judgments of critics from around the world," writes Thomas Fuller in the New York Times.

Start Quote

Everyone seems to have an opinion regardless of whether they know anything about jet planes or aeronautics”

End Quote Marina Mahathir The Star (Malaysia)

It's Malaysia's "ethnically polarised society" that's responsible, he continues:

Talent often does not rise to the top of government because of patronage politics within the ruling party and a system of ethnic preferences that discourages or blocks the country's minorities, mainly ethnic Chinese and Indians, from government service.

Commentary in the Malaysian press is defensive, thanks to the harsh international spotlight.

"Under the circumstances, the Malaysian authorities have carried out their roles well," writes Chok Suat Ling in the New Straits Times. "Considering the large number of countries involved and assets deployed, the search-and-rescue has been well coordinated."

Marina Mahathir of the Star agrees.

"Everyone seems to have an opinion regardless of whether they know anything about jet planes or aeronautics," she writes. "And let's not forget those who take opportunity to place blame based on the most outlandish reasons. A bit like when some blamed the Indian Ocean tsunami on people partying on beaches."

Other writers have latched onto the story about two individuals on the flight who were travelling with fake passports, although there's currently no evidence of a link to the plane's disappearance.

"The rampant use of fake travel documents presents a terrorist threat to aviation security," writes Zhou Zunyou of the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in the South China Morning Post.

The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune also weighs in.

"The passengers who did so to board this flight may not have been dangerous to their fellow travellers," the editors write. "But no one steals and uses someone else's passport for legitimate reasons."

A story this big has been a boon to aviation experts, who each have their own theory. A news outlet can find an opinion to support just about any position.

Take the lack of a distress call from the plane.

Start Quote

In the absence of facts we get cliches”

End Quote Charlie Beckett London School of Economics

Very telling, writes aviation journalist Clive Irving in the Daily Beast: "Whatever happened was instantaneous. There was no distress call from the pilots, and no previous hint of a technical problem."

Or maybe not. Airline pilot and author Bill Palmer for CNN:

An aviator's priorities are to maintain control of the airplane above all else. An emergency could easily consume 100% of a crew's efforts. To an airline pilot, the absence of radio calls to personnel on the ground that could do little to help the immediate situation is no surprise.

Charlie Beckett, director of the London School of Economics' journalism think tank POLIS, posts on his blog that stories like this highlight the flaws in the modern news business.

"In the absence of facts we get cliches," he writes. "We (currently) have no accurate idea where the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is, so journalists resort to phrases such as 'mystery surrounds the fate' or 'confusion reigns'. More journalism is like this than you realise."

Journalists have a blind spot when reporting on stories like these, he argues, looking too much to the past for guidance on a breaking story.

"Journalists tend to fall into a pattern based on previous narratives and ignore evidence or theories that don't conform to those prejudices," he writes. "The pundits tend to tell the journalists what they want to hear, or what sounds exciting."

At some point we may learn the fate of flight MH370. Or maybe we won't. It's a mystery, and confusion reigns.


More on This Story

MH370 mystery


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  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    what is clear is that a Government or Governments know more of the truth but are choosing not to say anything. The tracking to the west was a firm fact given almost immediately by the Malaysian Air Force, although subsequently denied by Government. The more recent information from Inmarsat and Rolls Royce about pinging and data transmission supports tracking to the west.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Let's find out what happened before the holier-than-thou brigade start pointing fingers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Well now it sounds like the Malaysia plane was hijacked
    which would mean that we won't likely find it in the sea

    Rather it is likely sitting somewhere on land
    waiting to be used for an unknown purpose

    Odds are this plane is in the Middle East or Europe

    What we do know is whoever took this plane does not likely have good intentions

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    It's a tragedy and I'm sorry for the relatives. I'm surprised we haven't had more outlandish theories, vis-a-vis:

    1) Time vortex and/or alien abduction
    3) Stolen (and landed on an island in the Spratlys)
    3) North Korea

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    A civilian plane flies for hours and the military of the neighbouring countries with all their radars don't know where it's gone. How credible is that?

    The plan either landed somewhere or was brought/forced down and atleast one or more governments know where it is.

    There are many that are hiding the truth. Who, Why and what about the plight of the passengers and their families?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Reply to #17:

    I seriously doubt American or Israeli involvement in a lost airliner over either the Indian Ocean or Andaman Sea. The first question is "Why?" The next question is "Who would care?"

    I have known some Malaysians, and they are pretty arrogant, in their best post-colonial fashion. If they can't keep track of their own airplane, then who can?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    No matter what,relatives of these passengers are worried.International efforts will pay and reason will become clearer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The easiest thing in the world is grumbling. People who have nothing to do blame others. The Malaysian misfortune is unique to the world as it is to them. Disasters do happen in life due to human error as nobody is perfect but for which 9/11 would not have happen. It is through trial and error that an individual learns to avoid a calamity and not to harp on it. Hope things go right from here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I hope many, MANY people watch this video.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Various interests are at stake—including Malaysia Airlines & Boeing( both of which have images to protect), Malaysian Govt & Chinese Govt (both of which are is under pressure to provide answers).
    When key allegations surround Iranians and Chinese, I have to wonder about American and/or Israeli involvement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I keep seeing this link flying around... Any truth to it??

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Very, very sad - all those people in airports waiting for family and friends they'll probably never see again. There have always been 'completely disappeared plane /who shot it down' mysteries, and no doubt the truth of this one will leak out slowly and painfully over the next, say, 30 years. But surely the issue is a subject for speculation, rather than debate? What's is doing on 'Have Your Say'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    My random theory for today: North Korea is involved in this somehow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Yesterday midnight there was a dream in my sleep, the co-pilot of the missing Malaysian flight MH370 (saw the picture through new papers only) saying that the flight was went beyond the earth’s atmosphere & now it is somewhere in space… (I don’t know actually what happens to them, what I can do is to pray for all.. that I am doing…may GOD keep them safe in HIS hands...

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    For god's sake, stop fussing over who did what and concentrate on finding the plane.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    News agencies especially TV networks care about one thing ratings. They will beat this dog to death as long as viewership remains high. Ambivalent words are magnified out of proportion to have a lead story. The plane went this way or that way, Iranians on the plane (oooooh!), crazy co-pilot entertaining chicks in cockpit, highjackers, secret Al- Qaida airstrip! It will be found sooner or later.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I believe that the search should be done near the Kapas Island given that Flight MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00:41 on Saturday (16:41 GMT Friday) and by the latest news, it was lost contact at 01:30 (17:30 GMT) - about an hour after takeoff. The distance between Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Kapas Island is 55 min by flight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    What if, for any reason, the Captain managed to miraculously "land" the aircraft in the water, in one piece, the same way Cpt. Sullenberger did in the Hudson River in 2009? In this case I believe the aircraft could sink entirely with all its components to the bottom of the sea leaving only a trace of any possible remaining fuel, oil and hydraulic fluids which could make the SAR nearly impossible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    The apparent 'fact' that the most able people are excluded from government posts is bad news. The 'establishment' in Malaysia seems to have self interest in keeping themselves away from blame - this gets in the way of objectivity. If the plane had cracks and broke up debris would be all over the place, if the engines stopped (nb Heathrow incident) it would glide downwards below radar and crash

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Onemoregoalboys offers some really helpful info that makes the following conjecture even more likely: alien capture, as Virtuousblogdog suggests. The radar echos suggesting the aircraft turned back were from the alien craft before it achieved warpspeed while departing the area.


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