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MISSING MH370: Timely information sharing
Publication Date : 20-03-2014
More than 10 days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared from radar, triggering an unprecedented multinational search, the sharing of information among the search parties has become all the more imperative.
As 26 countries are now involved in the search mission, it is vital for them to share information in a timely and comprehensive manner. Any country that drags its feet at this moment is not showing due respect to the 239 lives aboard the missing plane, says a Xinhua commentary.
It is known to all that inaccurate, or at least incomplete, information meant the initial search in the South China Sea led nowhere and thus precious time was wasted.
Due to the lack of transparency, massive efforts have been squandered and numerous rumors have emerged about the fate of the plane, wracking the nerves of the waiting families. Therefore, there is no excuse for repeating the same mistakes.
Moreover, it is wrong to cover up information under the excuse of "military reasons" or "national security". Keeping a secret cannot be at the cost of life. Even if so-called "sensitive information" cannot be publicised, it should be shared among the parties participating in the search mission.
Concealing facts has already dragged down the efficiency of the search mission.
It has been a universal practice to share information in rescue and disaster relief missions. For instance, during the search for Air France AF447 in 2009, the United States and Brazil provided France with precious satellite data and observation information, which turned out to be vital to the success of the mission.
Another example is the operations to fight the forest fires in Australia last October, during which China offered satellite surveillance pictures and data to Australia, which was very helpful.
There is no denying that the current multinational search is unprecedented and complicated, so it is a great challenge to conduct timely and comprehensive information sharing.
But Malaysia should fully tap its information-sharing platform. In the meantime, other parties possessing valuable data and information, including intelligence superpower the United States, have a duty to offer the platform timely data and information.
Time means life, and transparency brings efficiency. There is no excuse for any party withholding any potentially helpful information that might lead to discovering the plane and the fate of 239 people on board.