Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai must explain the haste and hurry to declare and claim that the suspected wreckage found on Reunion Island is from MH370

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Media Statement by DAP National Political Education Director and MP for Kluang Liew Chin Tong in Johor on 7th August 2015

Since a piece of flaperon from a plane wing was discovered on the shores of Reunion Island on 29 July, Malaysian authorities were naturally inclined to investigate speculation that the debris belonged to the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Why did Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai advise Prime Minister Najib Razak to make a premature and hasty announcement, which the international community has deemed “irresponsible”? Confirmation should not be given lightly about a plane that disappeared mysteriously 515 days ago which has baffled expert international investigators for the past 457 days.

Furthermore, the suspected wreckage was found 3,800 miles from the flight’s last known location and 2,300 miles away from the search area. At this time, more suspected wreckage is being found washed up on Reunion Island. This requires time to examine and to through vigorous verification process before certainty can be attained. A quick conclusion will not do justice to the next of kin of the victims.

International investigations are still ongoing to determine if the debris belongs to the ill-fated carrier. Australia and France have stopped short of confirming the link. Malaysia is the only country so far to acknowledge that the debris comes from MH370.

Scepticism and caution has greeted the announcement by Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday where he confirmed that the debris found was indeed from MH370. In particular, relatives and friends of the 239 on board the plane were still in anguish and not all have accepted the “confirmation” by the Prime Minister. My thoughts go out to them.

Many questions that still remain unresolved as to the cause of the carrier crash.

Rather than rely solely on an international investigation team to find out the truth, Malaysia must commission a local independent investigation panel to look into the institutional weaknesses that led to the MH370 air tragedy, and to come up with recommendations.

The government should set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the incident, or at the very least, form a bipartisan Special Select Parliamentary Committee, assisted by aviation experts.

Several questions must be resolved without any delay:

Firstly, why was the Malaysian airport security authority not linked up with the Interpol database?

Secondly, why was all communication on board MH370 switched off at the material time when the plane was flying from Malaysian air command area into Vietnamese air command space?

Due to the deliberate lapse in communication, confusion occurred whereby both nations assumed that the plane had flown into or was still in the other’s air command area, when in actual fact the plane had flown westward.

Recommendations must be made to avoid a repeat of such scenario.

Thirdly, why did the Air Force allow an aircraft without a functional transponder to fly through Malaysian airspace?

In view of this error in judgment, there is an urgent need to review the air space surveillance and intercepting Standar Operating Procedures (SOP).

Fourthly, why does the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation not have an independent air accident investigation bureau? In accordance with international aviation standards, it has become common practice for even small countries such as Singapore, Thailand and Mongolia to have already established their air accident investigation bureau.

I urge the government to table an emergency motion in parliament to debate the tragedy of MH370 in the wake of this decisive finding. The loss of MH17 triggered an emergency parliamentary session, and therefore the recent finding of debris from MH370 deserves the same treatment.

Liew Chin Tong

( Liew is also DAP Spokesperson for transport and public works)

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