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MISSING MH370: Bad start for high-level Malaysian delegation in Beijing
Publication Date : 22-03-2014
The high-level delegation sent by Malaysia to Beijing to explain the search efforts was meant to pacify angry Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysian jetliner.
But the first meeting it had with some 200 to 300 family members at the Metropark Lido Hotel in Beijing yesterday ended up acrimonious from the get-go, with the relatives accusing the Malaysian government of hiding crucial information.
"You have wasted so much time," one family member shouted when the briefing started at 10am.
Over the next three hours or so, the delegation, made up of Malaysian civil aviation, military and Malaysia Airlines officials, elaborated on technical information of the search, but did not reveal any new information. The group had arrived in Beijing the previous evening.
Several family members lost interest and left the conference room, where more than 400 relatives have been gathering daily for updates.
As for the 26 Chinese relatives staying at the Cyberview Resort and Spa in Cyberjaya in Malaysia, their excruciating wait proved to be no more fruitful.
The anguish of two long weeks without any news of loved ones has clearly taken its toll on family members of the passengers and crew members of Flight MH370 that vanished on March 8.
Of the 239 people on board, 153 were Chinese nationals.
At Everly Hotel in Putrajaya, where close to 100 Malaysian relatives had been waiting since March 8, only nine were staying put.
The others had decided to go home to pick up the threads of their lives.
They included Mr Subramaniam Gurusamy, who has been going through the television news channels for hours every day for word of his only son Puspanathan, who had boarded MH370 for a business trip to Beijing.
"Lots of talk, but always nothing," the 60-year-old former security guard told The Straits Times from his home in Banting, Selangor.
Like most of the other Malaysian family members of MH370 passengers, he had decided to return home as there was more support from friends and family.
"Friends and relatives come to visit us every day," he said. "We pray and we talk, it gives strength."
Another family member who returned home was policeman Zamani Zakaria, 56.
"We have already waited for more than one week. How long more do we have to wait?" he asked, adding that he was frustrated with having to get updates from the media instead of the airline.
With a younger school-going son, he had no choice but to go home. But his mind, he said, was always on his elder son Mohammad Razahan Zamani, 24, and daughter-in-law, Norliakmar Hamid, 33, who were on their way to their honeymoon.
Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who urged family members to brace themselves for a "long haul" search, said the Prime Minister's special envoy to China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting had been put in charge of coordinating briefings for the families in Kuala Lumpur.
"These briefings will continue - at the families' convenience - for as long as the families want them," he told the daily press conference on the search at the Sama-Sama Hotel in Sepang yesterday.
But the pressure from the media and the families will continue to bear on the Malaysian investigators leading the search for MH370 to come up with the only answer the families want: The whereabouts of their missing relatives.