See Second Update
Confirmation that Malaysia’s military knew exactly where Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was until the minute is disappeared near a rocky outcrop in the northern approaches to the Straits of Malacca on Saturday morning would mean it mislead 10 allies, including Australia, into participating in a farcical and costly search for the missing Boeing 777-200.
Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and the United States were among the countries that deployed significant resources into efforts to find the jet which had 239 people on board, and vanished from civilian air traffic control radar screens about 42 minutes after it departed Kuala Lumpur for Beijing at 12.40 am on 8 March.
But MH370, which had its identifying transponder switched off, was according to national media tracked all the way to a low altitude location near Pulau Perak (Silver Island) by Malaysia’s military radar.
What is even more reprehensible about such a search circus is that one of the speakers at the daily press conference was Malaysia’s defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who must surely, as the responsible member of government, have known what the military openly revealed to the media in Malaysia yesterday.
The minister absented himself from yesterday’s search update conference in Kuala Lumpur to participate in a flight to western Malaysia in the newly expanded search area, which had actually been extended no later than sometime early on Monday.
It is possible that Hishammuddin Hussein flew to the site of the crash yesterday on that flight.
Why the minister allowed the massive, and pointless participation in a widespread search area by Malaysia’s allies, when its defence forces knew with precision where the 777 actually disappeared from military radar last Saturday morning, is a question which goes to the integrity and competency of the country’s leadership.
If the government didn’t know what its military knew, the same military that would have been liaising with its counterparts who had volunteered their search support, just how disconnected from reality is it?
The obvious question is was it protecting, with the resources of its allies, the reputation of the government owned carrier Malaysia Airlines, while efforts were made to devise a management program for a crash in which Malaysia’s police are investigating the mental health and personal problems of crew members as well as passengers on MH370?
The defence minister made very detailed statements about passengers with false or stolen passports who boarded the flight, as well as claiming that five people who did not board the flight had their luggage offloaded. At yesterday’s media conference national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar repudiated those claims.
Today could be somewhat intense, as the fate of MH370, its final resting place, and the extent to which Malaysia misled its allies, are revealed.
The Royal Malaysia Air Force has rejected the media reports that it tracked the 777 after it turned west in a statement posted on its Facebook page and reproduced in full below.
(This statement could be read as confirming the substance of the reports, that the RMAF did in fact follow MH370 as reported.)
OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY CHIEF OF ROYAL MALAYSIAN AIR FORCE ON
BERITA HARIAN NEWS ARTICLE DATED 11th MARCH 2014 ON SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS IN THE STRAITS OF MALACCA
1. I refer to the Berita Harian news article dated 11th March 2014 on Search and Rescue Operations in the Straits of Malacca which (in Bahasa Malaysia) referred to me as making the following statements:
The RMAF Chief confirmed that RMAF Butterworth airbase detected the location signal of the airliner as indicating that it turned back from its original heading to the direction of Kota Bahru, Kelantan, and was believed to have pass through the airspace of the East Coast of and Northern Peninsular Malaysia.
The last time the plane was detected by the air control tower was in the vicinity of Pulau Perak in the Straits of Malacca at 2.40 in the morning before the signal disappeared without any trace, he said.
2. I wish to state that I did not make any such statements as above, what occurred was that the Berita Harian journalist asked me if such an incident occurred as detailed in their story, however I did not give any answer to the question, instead what I said to the journalist was “Please refer to the statement which I have already made on 9 March 2014, during the press conference with the Chief of Defence Force at the Sama-Sama Hotel, Kuala Lumpur International Airport”.
3. What I stated during that press conference was,
The RMAF has not ruled out the possibility of an air turn back on a reciprocal heading before the aircraft vanished from the radar and this resulted in the Search and Rescue Operations being widen to the vicinity of the waters of Pulau Pinang.
4. I request this misreporting be amended and corrected to prevent further misinterpretations of what is clearly an inaccurate and incorrect report.
5. Currently the RMAF is examining and analyzing all possibilities as regards to the airliner’s flight paths subsequent to its disappearance. However for the time being, it would not be appropriate for the RMAF to issue any official conclusions as to the aircraft’s flight path until a high amount of certainty and verification is achieved. However all ongoing search operations are at the moment being conducted to cover all possible areas where the aircraft could have gone down in order to ensure no possibility is overlooked.
6. In addition, I would like to state to the media that all information and developments will be released via official statements and press conferences as soon as possible and when appropriate. Our current efforts are focused upon on finding the aircraft as soon as possible.
GENERAL TAN SRI DATO’SRI RODZALI BIN DAUD RMAF
Chief of Royal Malaysian Air Force
11 March 14
Second Update 4.30 pm EADT
Vietnam has scaled back its sea searching and has mentioned that it has not had a response from Malaysia as to the new western Malaysia focus. (Further update Vietnam has now restored its full support for the search.)
Malaysia has extended the search area deeper into the Andaman Sea, which is a very deep sea. This extends an earlier designation of part of the nearer Andaman Sea as a search zone. This is despite the extraordinary statement from the Malaysia air force that it didn’t see on its defence radar MH370 moving across the Malaysia Peninsula to the western zone in the Malacca Straits. If it didn’t see the 777 do that, how does it think it got there?
In latest reports the RMAF isn’t repeating its denials that the flight was observed. Instead, it isn’t saying anything in repsonse to queries, maintaining that all comments must come through the official channels which for the media, are in a state of confusion and disrepute.
China has again told Malaysia to get its act together, and has pledged further search support for land areas, which do not appear to have been specified.