It didn’t rate as a story in most of the mainstream Australian media but Malaysia’s honorary consul to Madagascar Houssenaly Zahid Raza was recently assassinated after he had been told of the discovery of more apparent fragments of missing flight MH370 on the country’s shores.
The possibility that there was a connection between these two events has however been raised, mostly in a responsible if quizzical manner, in some news and social media sites.
In response to this Blaine Gibson, the Seattle lawyer who has personally searched for and found verified as well as suspected pieces of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, has urged caution over such speculation and says that it may impede the examination of some items that may have come from the jet when it crashed at an as yet undetermined location in the south Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014.
It’s a reasonable call for Mr Gibson to make. It’s one that even the most junior and inexperienced reporters would have heeded on their own initiative given the paucity of information available, or, alternatively, would have taken to their news organisation as a suggested assignment involving travel to Malagasy, if advice on the personal risks to such a reporter was considered acceptable.
At a time when news rooms have fewer staff, reduced back-up, and an aversion to having their people expelled from foreign places because of unforeseen developments, it is unlikely such an assignment would be approved unless there was persuasive advice that the premise of the proposed story was known, in another place that the media organisation would have consulted, to be considered to be substantially correct.
A mysterious link between the assassination of Zahid Raza and MH370 cannot be ruled out. But it seems unlikely there is one.