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Families of MH17 victims deserve justice

Publication Date : 22-07-2014

 

The downing of MH17 was an act of murder. Nothing – not even being in the wrong place at the wrong time – can justify the cold-blooded murder of 298 civilians.

There must be a full and independent international investigation into the incident and the perpetrators must face the full force of international justice.

For Malaysians, the loss of MH17 revives a nightmare we hadn’t fully escaped from after the disappearance of MH370.

Why us? Malaysia is a relatively small country in the grand scheme of things.

The “Malaysia Boleh” (Malaysia Can) days of Dr Mahathir Mohamad aside, we’ve always flown under the radar on the international stage, content to be friends with (almost) everyone.

We are proud of who we are. But Malaysia has never sought to attack or provoke others.

And yet, the latest disaster has shown that we cannot escape from the world and its troubles.

We thought that Vladimir Putin’s dismemberment of Ukraine had nothing to do with us, that the blowback from this would never come our way.

Looks like we were wrong.

As it is, we have been targeted by the proxies of a nation which purports to be a global superpower.

Innocents – including at least 80 children – were slaughtered by cowards who crowed with exultation, only to rush to cover their tracks.

Indeed, it would appear that the leaders of Russia, the nation of Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn and Tchaikovsky have – at the very least – countenanced the killing of our people and many others via their support of the separatists.

The crime has been compounded by the stonewalling of the investigation and recovery efforts at the crash zone in Grabovo, a hitherto obscure village in Ukraine’s east.

This heightens the barbarism. We are not animals. We must bury our dead. Furthermore, we must recover and restore their effects to their next of kin. Instead we’re pushed away. In our grief, we are blocked and shunted aside by drunken thugs.

Frankly, these East Ukrainian separatists make the Somali pirates who hijack ships off the Horn of Africa look like boy scouts. At least the latter don’t shoot to kill.

But, my fellow Malaysians – this is not a call for hatred or vengeance.

This tragedy would be all the greater if we turned against ordinary Russians. They are not at fault here.

Like us, many of them are in shock, grief and rage at the irresponsible actions of an extremist minority enabled by the delusions of grandeur of a would-be tyrant.

Rather, Malaysia must take this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to international norms.

We must respond with courage, dignity and resilience.

Our government must show the world that Malaysia will not take a backseat. It is our plane and the families of the victims deserve justice.

We must demand that the investigation – which has been a disaster thus far – be conducted thoroughly and transparently.

Our government must work with our friends abroad – particularly the Netherlands – to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

More importantly, we must come together as a nation despite the many things that have divided us in recent times.

It is sad that we only seem to put aside our differences in the face of tragedy, but better like this than never at all.

Because make no mistake, it has generally been a horrible year to be Malaysian. Besides the loss of two planes (let us not forget that MH370 is still out there, somewhere), we have had to deal with growing sectarianism at home as well as economic and political uncertainties.

Indeed, the international ramifications of MH17 may heighten our sense of impotence and helplessness.

But it would be another grave mistake if we were to fall into despair, if we were to give up on this country and its future altogether.

Malaysia is not cursed.

We are being tested.

If we prevail, we will emerge out of these travails as what we have always wanted to be: one nation.

For my part, my stand is clear.

 

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