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MH370 CRASH: Growing demands in China over MH370
Publication Date : 28-03-2014
Besides questioning Malaysia’s conclusions over the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner, families of the passengers want more room and care to cope with their loss.
Spring has arrived in Beijing, but it has had little mood-lifting effect on the grieving family members of Chinese passengers aboard MH370.
Metropark Lido Hotel continued to be bustling with pressmen, keeping their prying eyes on the families and briefing sessions, 20 days after Beijing-bound MH370 disappeared.
There is still no sign of the ill-fated aircraft and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has made a statement on Monday night to announce that MH370 has ended in southern Indian Ocean.
Amid their anguish and despair, suspicions and anger surfaced as the family members hurled sarcasm and criticisms at Malaysia Airlines and the high-level Malaysian delegation sent by the government to provide updates to them.
The committee representing the family members took to Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, to air their dissatisfaction when the airline caregivers had not showed up at Lido Hotel to provide assistance on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Malaysia Airlines, have you lost contact too? Don’t lie to the whole world, you are really shameless,” the post read.
Unbeknownst to the family members, the temporary absence of MAS staff and Tzu Chi volunteers was a decision made on the advice of the Chinese authorities, based on the aggressive behaviour at Lido Hotel following Najib’s announcement on Monday night.
On that night, ashen-faced family members exited the ballroom where they had just watched Najib’s announcement. Annoyed by the heavy presence of pressmen, who were pointing their equipment at them, a few shoved the cameramen forcefully, shouting angrily.
A water bottle was also thrown at the media, who were blocking the passage, when first-aid officers were pushing a collapsed family member out on a stretcher.
Inside the ballroom, China Daily reported, at least 10 family members fought with the police and several also threw chairs at the screen.
A MAS representative told the families in a meeting on Wednesday that the team would resume their duties again that evening.
“(The decision to pull out from Lido) was based on reality on Monday night. To be frank, we felt threatened by what happened. The situation was not under control,” a representative said, referring to some family members resorting to venting their misery with physical means.
His explanation was met with scepticism and one family member even told the team not to “judge noble people by the mentality of a coward”.
On Tuesday, MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the airline would continue to support more than 900 passengers’ family members with two dedicated caregivers per family, adding that the airline has more than 700 dedicated caregivers in its network.
The family members leveraged on this information when enquiring the total of caregivers stationed in Beijing.
“Two-thirds of the passengers aboard MH370 are Chinese. It’s only fit if you allocate two-thirds of your volunteers to us,” one of them said.
The next-of-kin said their relatives rushed from all over the country to Beijing following Najib’s announcement but no MAS officers were on hand to arrange accommodation for them.
“Dozens of our relatives have to sleep on the floor.
“You promised to fly five family members per passenger to the end destination, but you just provided two rooms. How can five people squeeze into two rooms?” asked a family representative, demanding a quick remedy to the situation.
The family members, who yearned for more detailed explanations, questioned the analysis by satellite company Inmarsat and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) based on the satellite data.
When the family members raised doubts over the report, the Malaysian high-level team made clear that the report was prepared by AAIB and that AAIB had turned down a request to meet the family members in Beijing.
“You are not an expert on this matter. This report is not prepared by Malaysia, but a UK investigation body. How can you be so sure that this is the case?” a family representative asked the team.
It appeared that some of the next-of-kin have spent time poring over the data available in an attempt to uncover the probable whereabouts of MH370.
A woman explained her theory, pointing out that there could be more possibilities other than the southern Indian Ocean as the final destination.
She then requested the high-level delegation to relay her message to AAIB.
“If you think what I am saying makes sense, tell them to hire me as my analysis is better than theirs,” she said.
Her doubts, as well as the questions raised by other relatives, are fuelled by a firm belief that Malaysia is hiding the truth, while the whole world, including family members of the 50 Malaysians and other nationals on board, is waiting for an answer too.
The hostility towards the Malaysian team has not translated into aggressive behaviour towards other Malaysians in the country.
A Malaysian student Mun Yannie, who is pursuing Chinese Medicine in Beijing, said she has not felt any hostility from the Chinese since the incident happened.
“There are rational people who believe the responsibility lies with the culprit. They won’t with harbour hatred towards any Malaysian,” the 25-year-old said.
However, there is only one way to temper the anger of the family members now – find the aircraft and passengers, find the black box and identify the cause of the disappearance of MH370. Otherwise, the relatives will not let this issue rest.