Bar new evidence, let's close the MH370 file

LAST Monday (March 8, 2021) marked the seventh anniversary of the disappearance of Flight MH370.

Many local newspapers carried stories about this event, with one interviewee urging that the search for the aircraft be continued.

The good thing from among those interviewed, especially the next of kin, was that they all seemed to have accepted and are reconciled to their loss and have moved on with life.

I, however, didn't pick up anything written about the wellbeing of the family of the commander, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who has been subjected to numerous deceitful accusations.

Touching first on the call for the search to be continued, let us get real about this.

I remember what one Australian member of the search team said in a TV interview: "This is far more difficult than looking for a needle in a haystack. We don't even know where the haystack is."

And we still don't know! Why must we reconvene the exercise when we don't have any new clue? We have already put in tremendous effort and spent around RM160 million in the previous search, only to find nothing.

Why must we spend more, when we can use the money for other things like feeding the poor or giving to the needy?

Pardon me if that sounds callous but we must accept the fact that in life, there are three certainties: tax, criticism and death (if indeed that was so in this case). As it is, nobody can say for certain that all those on board — two pilots, 10 cabin crew and 227 passengers — died, simply because no wreckage or bodies were found.

I have no personal interest whatsoever in this unfortunate incident. But being a former pilot as well as former director of Flight Operations of the airline, I really feel the loss of fellow colleagues; of course, all the passengers on board as well and the aircraft.

For the record, during the early days, Captain Zaharie was my co-pilot, and I also knew some of the senior cabin crew operating the flight personally.

I am especially disturbed by the allegations thrown at Zaharie, that he could be responsible for the aircraft going missing. I don't want to repeat them here. They are all over the Internet.

All I want to say is that the allegations are unfounded. And the ensuing speculation by many individuals and the hypotheses offered by "experts" are preposterous. Zaharie cannot defend himself. In the absence of any evidence, please stop all the theories.

As we all know, the accident was thoroughly investigated and a lengthy report was produced.

But for lack of evidence, no wreckage, no recorders, conclusive findings could not be made.

The government (of Malaysia), however, has repeatedly given the assurance that if new evidence were to emerge, the investigation would be reopened.

Let us, therefore, move on with life. Understandably, in the first instance, the next of kin will feel a sense of sadness over the loss of their loved ones. That is natural, but grieving should not go on forever.

In my personal capacity and representing fellow pilots in Malaysia Airlines, can I call upon everyone to bring closure to this very unfortunate episode?

I am appealing that this subject be no longer talked about or raised, so that the families of those missing can go on with their lives.

I am aware it is not appropriate for the government or even the airline to make this call. But being a former 'Chief', I am stepping forward to make this appeal so that everybody can be at peace.

Let's forget the whole thing and move forward.

The writer is former director of Flight Operations, Malaysia Airlines

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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