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Thread: Governance: Incompetency through moronocracy - Malaysia’s authoritarian ways reflected in poor handling of missing MAS plane crisis, says paper

  1. #21
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    Oct 2008
    Singapore daily shares 5 key lessons from MH370’s disappearance

    MARCH 23, 2014

    A Chinese air force personnel observing the take-off of Ilyushin 76 aircraft in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang yesterday. A Singapore daily says today the disappearance of MH370 has exposed gaping holes in the global security network. – The Malaysian Insider pic Afif Abd Halim, March 23, 2014.As the world waits for confirmation on the debris spotted in the Indian Ocean, five important lessons have emerged from the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an editor with Singapore's Sunday Times daily said today.

    Warren Fernandez said the first lesson was not to take security for granted as the disappearance of MH370 had exposed gaping holes in the global security network.

    The lapses in security, he said, range from millions of missing passports that were used to board planes, to airport security agencies that neglected to check passengers' records against global databases of such lost documents.

    "It should also prompt airport authorities everywhere, including in Singapore, to have a care as they push for automation and efficiency gains in their operations.

    "Ultimately, security is only as good as the officer on the job staying alert and ready to respond to a crisis which might arise when he least expects it," he wrote in his column.

    Fernandez said the missing plane had also pointed to gaps in radar and satellite tracking systems, as well as the reluctance of governments to share sensitive information they might have.

    "But even so, more basically, it is no use having elaborate radar and other detection systems, if no one responds to unexplained aircraft movements, simply because it seems like just another day at the office," he said.

    The second lesson, Fernandez said, was that safety always came first.

    He said while airlines went all out to ensure passenger comfort, it should also ensure that passengers were in good hands when they boarded a plane, including having well-trained and reliable pilots.

    The third lesson, said Fernandez, was to pick the right people for the job.

    "Malaysia has been much maligned for its handling of the crisis, suffering untold harm to its international reputation.

    "I don't wish to add fuel to the fire. But the lesson to be drawn is the importance of ensuring that the right people are picked for key jobs, with the necessary skills, experience, character and temperament," he said.

    The fourth lesson, he said, was the need to realise that sooner or later, a crisis would come and the best way to prepare for it was to expect one.

    He said the best organisations prepared for such situations and all key players needed to know what they should do when a crisis took place.

    "In today's hyper-media age, the old assumption that in a crisis, public communication is a luxury or distraction is likely to compound a disaster. As we have seen, in the absence of credible and timely information, conspiracy theorists will rush to fill the vacuum, forcing the authorities to respond.

    "It is much better to get ahead of the information curve. Those charged with public communications will have to hone their abilities to do so. They could take a leaf from the calm, collected fashion in which Australian officials handled themselves last Thursday, presenting new satellite information which offered fresh leads, even while managing expectations and stating plainly what they did, and didn't, know," Fernandez wrote.

    The last lesson, he said, was to build trust and a sense of community long before a crisis strikes.

    He said people needed to be able to trust the authorities to do the right thing in a difficult situation.

    "Without this, the tendency will be to assume the worst, including the notion that officials are withholding information or just plain lying, for whatever reason.

    "As emotions will naturally run high in crisis situations, it will be critical for everyone to have a sense that they are all in it together, and that finger-pointing, or worse, point-scoring, for organisational, personal, partisan or political gain, will do no one any credit," he said.

    Fernandez concluded his column by saying that the greatest danger was to disregard everything from the MH370's disappearance and to revert to business as usual when it no longer made the headlines. – March 23, 2014.

  2. #22
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    Oct 2008
    Malaysia Airlines: 'This is not a normal investigation'
    Malaysia's vanishing airplane catastrophe exposes the country's political and social fault lines.

    Last updated: 20 Mar 2014 06:01

    A catalogue of backtracking is defining the investigation thus far, writes Banu [EPA]
    The crisis over Malaysia's missing Flight MH370 would surely test any government. But Malaysia's handling of the search, investigation and communication with the outside world has thrown it into an uncomfortable spotlight and caught it severely off guard.

    The catastrophe is exposing the deep fault lines characterising the country's political economy. Since independence from the British in 1957, Malaysia's ruling elite have built and reinforced a political system that has institutionalised their cultural and economic dominance.

    MH370: Latest developments from the search


    The system is so entrenched, it shapes and permeates all layers of Malaysian society. Now we're seeing it play out in how the administration is managing and communicating the investigation to the rest of the world.

    A catalogue of backtracking is defining the investigation thus far, frustrating the families of those on board and provoking a backlash of anti-government feeling.

    We've seen Malaysian officials contradict each other over vital early details about MH370's satellite communications systems. Acting Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein and Malaysian Airlines CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, have disagreed over whether the system was switched off before or after the flight's co-pilot uttered the now infamous signoff: "Alright goodnight" to ground control on the morning of March 8 when the plane disappeared.

    Consequently, the pilot and co-pilot, Zaharie Shah and Fariq Ab Hamid, became the first suspects, in a possible plot to sabotage or hijack the Boeing 777, which led to bewilderment and distress amongst the families.

    Inconsistencies also stood out in the police investigation. At one point, Hishamuddin said police officers had visited the homes of the pilots as early as March 9, the day after the aircraft vanished.

    But police chief Khalid Abu Bakar then confused the issue by saying officers had in fact not gone to the pilots' homes.

    Things were muddled from the start. The hunt for the ill-fated jet began on March 8 in the South China Sea, was abandoned and diverted to the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean.

    Malaysians are concerned about the state of readiness of their military, after radar tracked an unidentified object moving west over peninsular Malaysia on March 8 and the air force took no further action to ascertain what that object was.

    Sources close to the government have said, off-the-record since they are not authorised to talk to the media, that they are unsure how to manage the message.

    Sure, it is a trial that would test any government, agency or communications team. With a daunting search involving more than 20 countries and stretching across some 6.2 million square miles, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Yet, there are some fundamentals here that Malaysian government agencies aren't following. What they should be doing is: Verify the incoming information; unify the message; decide which agency takes control of its dissemination and keep the families informed at all times.

    The baffling stream of information must be heart-breaking for the relatives of the 227 passengers and crew. Of those, 154 are Chinese, a ratio which has prompted the mainland to rally behind their cause. Families of the victims have been filmed shouting at Malaysian officials as their grievance builds over the lack of information and disorienting turn of events.

    China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hong Lei, has even urged Malaysia to provide, "comprehensive and correct information".

    My message to the government would be: Yes, this is not a normal investigation, but instead of playing victim to events, leverage the nexus of abnormality, tragedy and interest in the story to recreate a new Malaysia.

    Malaysian government under microscope

    Let's put it into context.

    The global glare of publicity is landing on an administration deeply uncomfortable with any level of scrutiny.

    Malaysia's ruling party keeps tight control of all aspects of domestic media - it is either state-sponsored, choked by authorities, or opposition-led. Media outlets or editors that dare question the administration perish by the wayside, or are ordered back in line.

    At election time, the New Straits Times newspaper, a mouthpiece for the ruling coalition will be awash with barely rewritten government press releases, eulogising about the "achievements" of those in power.

    What has this to do with Flight MH370? This stranglehold on free expression has nurtured a government unused to being cross-examined in public and more accustomed to changing its mind and message at will.

    Moreover, the lack of oxygen given to rational democratic debate within Malaysia has fostered a cosseted leadership that either goes on the attack or retreats to its ideological ivory tower when it feels imperiled.

    To enforce its intolerance of dissent, the Malaysian government deploys powerful tools of control. Until September 2011, the Internal Security Act (ISA) was a catch-all deterrent to those who spoke out openly against the government.

    It sanctioned detention without trial and swept many opposition members into solitary confinement. In its place, authorities have of late been commandeering the Sedition Act to silence critics with increasing vigour.

    This insidiousness has come to haunt the Malaysian government in its current time of need. True, as Hishamuddin said, "This is not a normal investigation".

    But his and his cohorts' mishandling of crisis communications has made the government look shifty instead of perhaps being just plain incompetent, adding rocket fuel to the plethora of theories on the plane's whereabouts.

    Hishammuddin - himself - is political royalty: He's the current prime minister's cousin, the son of Malaysia's third prime minister and nephew of its second. With his blood ties, he could easily be Malaysia's next prime minister.

    Ethnicity and connections are highly likely to determine one's fate in Malaysia. Lucrative affirmative action policies promote ethnic Malays over the more than 30 percent Chinese and Indian minorities. The situation translates into each Malaysian being born with a semi-pre-ordained destiny - boosted by state coffers - that will decide which university you choose, what jobs you get, how many children you have, or even whether you end up in the cabinet.

    Meanwhile, the elite have enriched themselves through a cosy network of crony capitalism that venomously lashes out at those who threaten its existence. Malaysia ranks third, behind only Russia and Hong Kong, in The Economist's crony capitalism index 2014, a list of "countries where politically-connected businessmen are most likely to prosper".

    It's a sad indictment for a country that was once celebrated as having as much economic potential as South Korea.

    Seize control of the situation

    Social media, Asia's rising economic clout and irreversible globalisation mean the insular behaviour of the Malaysian government is long past its sell by date.

    A Malaysian love of communication has neatly translated into a wholehearted adoption of the internet and social media - and with great effect. More and more Malaysians are turning to alternative web sites likeMalaysiakini, The Malaysia Insider and Free Malaysia Today to source their news.

    Indeed, the opposition's popularity partly rests on the delivery of its message through Facebook, SMS and whatsapp. Last year, the opposition's frontline social media campaign helped it wrestle away the government's crucial two thirds parliamentary majority, needed to change the constitution.

    It's time the ruling coalition acknowledged that its supremacy - which has benefitted the few at the cost of many - needs a serious overhaul.

    As a communications professional, my message to the government would be: Yes, this is not a normal investigation, but instead of playing victim to events, leverage the nexus of abnormality, tragedy and interest in the story to recreate a new Malaysia

    Zarina Banu is a freelance writer, focusing on economics and business-policy in the Asia-Pacific.

    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

  3. #23
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    Oct 2008
    Sunday, 23 March 2014 07:52

    Malaysia BUMBLED from the outset - Sunday Herald Sun

    Written by Patrick Carlyon

    ROCK rebel Courtney Love conformed last week when she nominated a smudge on a satellite image as debris from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Her announcement, complete with handwritten pointers, led to Where’s Wally gags and the like. The vanishing of 239 souls was overlooked in the silliness.
    Still, Love had chosen to be “part of the crowd”. She had accepted an invitation issued by satellite company Tomnod, which had thrown up bazillions of images for the world to ponder. Millions of people gorged on the offer.

    The satellite scanning pursuit was rather compulsive once you got started, the hope of an unlikely answer to a bulging list of contradictions.

    My effort was as tokenistic as flicking a coin at a charity collector. It revealed less than a breakfast TV interview with a Kardashian. But the exercise did tap an urge to do something, anything. It was a stab at finding the truth.

    The instinct to help was natural enough. London mayor Boris Johnson wrote that “this is one of the first times I can remember when the whole human race has seemed as one in their sympathy and their concern for others”.

    Concern can take many forms. Within hours, the flight’s fate was subjected to more conspiracy theories than the Mary Celeste, the ghost ship found floating in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872.

    There was no theory to fit the facts. There were too few dots to join. Were the pilots heroes or villains? Take your pick. Was it an accident or aliens? Take your pick.

    Part of the reason for this, and it goes to the only flaw in Johnson’s otherwise sweet sentiment, lay in the tyrannical workings of Malaysia’s leadership. Malaysia neither pursued nor shared the available evidence as the need for truth demanded.

    Up to three separate Malaysian military radar stations missed the unidentified plane tracking across the country — to the west. No matter, Malaysia decided. Let’s keep the information an official secret for five days. Let’s spend a week supervising a multinational search of a sea — to the east.

    When leaks to the press began to contradict the official message, when relatives start throwing water bottles and exploding with grief, and when China — of all nations — started querying Malaysia’s approach, officials seemed to apply a bureaucratic dispassion best reserved for a misplaced shipping container.

    Calamities help define nations. Australians draw on mateship in the face of bushfires, for example. Americans bow to patriotism when confronted by terror. Those sentiments tend to flow without conscious effort. They don’t excise errors of judgment that can compound the size of the tragedy. But they do offer comfort in times of extreme need.

    Malaysia is a hub of trade and enterprise. It has long been ruled by a political party unaccustomed to close levels of scrutiny. The country is marked for its affluence and corruption.

    Presented with a catastrophe, its leaders couldn’t give anyone anything to believe in. Facts were scarce. Lacking answers, Malaysia did not seek the clean embrace of transparency. It offered stony faces and a hint of petulance in the face of international scepticism. Its leadership was exposed as all pulse and no heart.

    Malaysia’s government wanted the truth, presumably, but its need to control the information undermined Johnson’s optimism.

    It wasn’t united with the rest of the world: it was instead braced against a chorus of confusion. It bumbled from the start; in this, it is no different from any other major disaster in which human error always plays a role.

    YET in masking the errors, Malaysia compounded them. It knowingly looked in places less likely to yield evidence. It contradicted itself: was an on-board communications system manually switched off before the last radio contact, as stated, or was that point of fact unclear, as later stated? Its prime minister, Najib Razak, took a full week to front the media. Did he have better things to do? Was he washing his hair? He took no questions from a hungry press. Heaven forbid they ask tricky questions.

    This sense of inaccessibility accounts for the behaviour of Chinese relatives last Wednesday. The scene dripped with grief and injustice, much like that of a Russian woman being sedated with a needle in 2000. Her husband had died in the Kursk submarine explosion — she collapsed soon after the drug was administered, without her knowledge, by a woman in a white coat.

    President Vladimir Putin, a newbie in the role, was on holiday at the time. He didn’t cut short his trip to return to Moscow, despite conflicting reports and a rising clamour about secrets.

    Putin doesn’t admit to many mistakes. He admitted to that one.

    Perhaps Malaysia will do the same one day. Rarely have notions of “global community” seemed less twee as in the collective sigh for the MH370 tragedy. And rarely has a supposedly peace-loving country seemed so alone.

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  4. #24
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    Oct 2008
    Sunday, 23 March 2014 08:40

    Missing plane an alarm for Malaysia's leaders to wake up from socio-political NIGHTMARE

    It has been the 14th day into the mysterious disappearance of MH370. Without the assistance from so many countries, we alone would not have achieved anything today, perhaps still fumbling over South China Sea for any clue of the missing plane.

    The abuse of fake passports by two Iranians was disclosed by the Interpol. While our military radar detected some unidentified aircraft over our air space in the wee hours of that Saturday morning, it was the Untied States that helped corroborate that it was indeed MH370. Part of the key components from the flight simulator in Captain Zaharie's house would have to be sent to the States for analysis.

    In the latest development, from the commercial satellite images provided by the US, Australia said it had spotted some suspicious floating objects in southern Indian Ocean.

    To be honest,. we alone have not done much in this whole thing although the chaotic and deliberately deferred dissemination of vital information has completely exposed our deficiency, and this definitely does not augur well for our aspiration to achieve the status of developed nation in a few years' time.

    It is no secret that we lack the ability to reflect on our own shortcomings. The only thing we are good at doing is to outright strike out any external criticisms. For instance former prime minister Dr Mahathir has slammed the outriders, in particular foreign media, for picking on our misdeed in our search operations.

    It has been generally agreed that the first thing we must do after learning that a civilian airliner has gone missing is to locate it before reviewing what has gone wrong with our operations. Some say we should put the nation above all else and have called for all Malaysians to stay united to see through the current crisis.

    However, without having the ability to reflect and improve, we will make the same mistakes again in looking for the doomed flight. Why is it not possible to address the deficiencies in our management the same time we search for the flight?

    Passengers were allowed to board the flight on stolen passports because of incompetency in our passenger inspection procedures. We lacked the necessary technicians to analyze data because of our incomprehensive education system. The fragmented and messy pieces of information protruded our outdated management style, and all these could have spawned from our rigid system and mentality.

    Besides lofty nationalism, we also have other factors pouring in, such as politics and ethnic sentiments. When we won the Thomas Cup in 1992, the "Malaysia Boleh" slogan started to be chanted loudly all the time, and indeed it seems that nothing is impossible with Malaysian politicians. It is not a bad thing to inspire the nation, but we simply lack the competency and management to follow.

    1998, Mahathir implemented capital control mechanism to fend off currency speculation, once again allowing the country to shun the necessary reforms while entrenching the "Malaysia Boleh" self confidence as if we had made our country a role model for the developing world as the government people claimed.

    We were indeed fortunate because we had oil wealth to allow us to practise the Malaysian-style management to fend off foreign competition. But the relatively comfortable life numbed our nerves s management began to get lax while our competitiveness slipped. According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Malaysia saw the largest drop in science and maths performance among 59 countries in 2011.

    Even with such conspicuous slide in various sectors, our leaders seemed to care more about their positions and status.

    Probably we would continue to immerse ourselves in our perceived achievements if not for this disastrous incident. Students' performance in government exams has improved over the years and an at least 5% GDP growth is within reach year after year. But the crisis has rudely awakened us to the fact that there are many, many areas we need to improve.

    We should learn from countries like Singapore and Australia. Singapore's defence minister Dr Ng Eng Hen has said the MH370 incident has spurred the Singapore government to look into what it can learn from this crisis. In the meantime, the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott made a prompt report to the parliament after his country spotted objects that could be from MH370, while AMSA instantly hosted a media conference in a show of true transparency in handling such an international disaster.

    If this thing were to happen in Japan, the government should have apologized to the international community, whereas we lack the empathy and would employ such a crude tactic in handling the intrusion of Chinese passengers' families at the press conference.

    To transform the country's economy and to make Malaysia a high-income country, we need to lure large numbers of foreign investors and tourists. The question is, can we ensure them their safety? Do we comply with the universal value of treasuring life?

    Still very, very far from getting to the bottom of this mystery, it is imperative that we handle things prudently and make amends for what we have deviated.

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  5. #25
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    Oct 2008
    Monday, 24 March 2014 09:00

    INEPT BUT BULLYING: Malaysia's bumbling RULING ELITE

    Written by Lewis M Simons

    As errors, misstatements, retractions and head-scratching rationalizations tumble over each other in the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the world is coming to recognize what the country has known for decades — that Malaysia's leaders are accustomed to getting away with murder.

    Sometimes figuratively: For example, with elections looming and Prime Minister Najib Razak losing popularity, top opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim recently was sentenced to five years in prison on a sodomy charge. Two years ago, Anwar, who enjoys support in Washington, was acquitted after spending six years in prison on the same charge.

    And sometimes perhaps literally: In October 2006, the gruesome remains of a human body were discovered on a remote hilltop outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's principal city. There was no corpse, really, just hunks of flesh and shattered bone. DNA determined that the victim was a 28-year-old Mongolian woman who had been involved in a long love affair with one of Najib's closest advisers.

    These instances of real-life political shenanigans and pulp-fiction-style crime share deep cultural and behavioral traits with Malaysia's clumsy handling of the mysterious Boeing 777 and the 239 people on board.

    Spinning dubious stories but this time, the world is watching

    In the cases of the murder and the missing plane, Najib and other political leaders have felt free to spin their own dubious stories. The big difference is that this time, the world is watching as the leaders repeatedly are caught in their own web of claims and denials, allegations and refutations.

    Where does this arbitrary political culture come from?

    In 1979, following traumatic, bloody rioting between Malays and the substantial ethnic Chinese minority, the government granted a broad array of privileges to Malays, in effect ensuring them of perpetual power.

    This quota system also enabled the ruling party, which has held office for 60 years, to ride roughshod over the facts, as we now see regarding the missing plane. Questions such as how two Iranians carrying false passports were allowed to board were bungled. The matter of the jetliner turning off course went unreported.

    A full understanding of Malaysia's ineptitude on the world stage today isn't possible without recognizing the power elite's belief in its open-ended unassailability.

    Until the jetliner flickered off Malaysian radar screens, that misplaced cockiness was best seen in the case of the murdered woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu. She had accompanied Najib, then defense minister, and his adviser, Abdul Razak Baginda, her lover, on a trip to Paris to purchase two French-built submarines and an overhauled Spanish sub for Malaysia's Navy.

    The package was worth nearly $1 billion. French authorities are investigating whether the defense company gave a $100 million "commission" to Baginda. Shaariibuu, according to witnesses at her murder trial, demanded a $500,000 slice for her services as "interpreter."

    Blind eye to justice

    Once her remains were discovered, the short-reined domestic press turned a blind eye on the prime minister's evident connections, which he blithely denied. Baginda, an Oxford Ph.D., was imprisoned on charges of abetting the woman's murder.

    A year later, the high court acquitted Baginda. He left the country. A private investigator he had hired quickly filed a stunning declaration in court, implicating the prime minster and his wife in organizing and covering up the crime. Baginda quoted a text message the prime minister allegedly sent him after the woman's remains were discovered: "I am seeing IGP (inspector general of police) at 11 a.m. today … matter will be solved ... be cool."

    Within 24 hours, the private detective, without explanation, replaced his declaration with a new one that erased all references to the prime minister. Then he fled Malaysia.

    In both documents, the detective identified two junior police officers on the prime minister's security detail as having carried out the killing. They were arrested, tried and sentenced to hang. That never happened. Last August, the pair were acquitted.

    After eight years, the murder case remains unresolved.

    Anwar is in limbo, appealing his sodomy conviction yet again.

    Najib, prime minister for five years, until now has remained aloof and secure from the world's stares. With the disappearance of Flight 370 and the world pointing repeatedly to all the faulty information coming out of Malaysia, business as usual finally might be coming to an end. - USATODAY.COM

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  6. #26
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    Oct 2008
    Monday, 24 March 2014 10:13 WHAT ARE THEY HIDING? Malaysia won't reveal cargo

    MALAYSIA’S continuing refusal to share the cargo manifest for Flight MH370 with an Australian-led search and rescue operation will hamper the effort to find the missing aircraft, an aviation expert says.

    It is part of mounting concerns about the way in which Malaysian authorities have handled the search for the missing aircraft as it enters its third week.

    Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman Neil Hansford said it also suggests Malaysian authorities are not being fully transparent about what the Boeing 777-200ER, which disappeared on March 8 an hour into a journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was carrying.

    “To me, there is no reason why they wouldn’t declare the cargo manifest unless you’ve got something to hide,” he said.

    “There is no reason you wouldn’t have given it to AMSA (the Australian Maritime Safety Authority) on the first day of the search.”

    AMSA has requested a cargo manifest for Flight M370 from Malaysia Airlines.

    The manifest is expected to give the search operation a better idea in identifying objects they spot in the Indian Ocean if they indeed came from the missing plane.

    However, the Malaysian authorities to date have refused to release it, insisting the document is with the police who are conducting their own investigation into the cause of the plane’s disappearance.

    Cargo ... exactly what was on missing Flight MH370? Source: ThinkStock

    “There is certainly no reason why they shouldn’t share a cargo manifest with a legitimate search agency because it will only contribute to the search effort,” Professor Jason Middleton, the head of the school of aviation at the University of New South Wales, said.

    “I would have viewed that (not sharing the information) as unusual.”

    Professor Middleton said the only reason he could think of for not sharing the information was that something of “Malaysian national interest” was being carried on the aircraft.

    “But in that case you could just redact that bit,” he said.


    He said the whole investigation had been “totally characterised by innuendo and false data”.

    “One of the possibilities is that someone put something on board that wasn’t supposed to be there,” he said.

    Australian, Chinese and French satellite images have picked up what might be large pieces of debris from the missing aircraft, which was carrying 239 passengers and crew, while aircraft scanning the area on Saturday spotted what might be pallets and cargo straps.

    Mr Hansford said Australia was spending tens of millions of dollars looking for the plane in a remote section of the Indian Ocean, 2,500km southwest of Perth.

    “Here we are, Australia at great cost looking for the aircraft, and Malaysia won’t even cooperate and tell us what was on the aircraft,” he said.

    Message of hope ... people in Kuala Lumpur are still praying for MH370. Source: Getty Images

    Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya on March 18 revealed the aircraft was carrying “three to four tonnes” of mangosteen.

    Four days after that, he also confirmed press reports that the plane was carrying some small lithium-ion batteries but stressed they were transported according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules.

    Squandered early days of search: US lawmakers take aim at M'sian leader's poor handling

    Professor Middleton said a severe fire caused by lithium-ion batteries would require “gallons of fluid to put it out”, but said if this was the cause of the aircraft’s disappearance it would be unlikely it could have flown all the way to the southern Indian Ocean.

    He said he remained unconvinced that the aircraft would be found in the southern hemisphere.

    The growing concern comes as US lawmakers on Sunday panned the role played by Malaysian authorities, accusing them of withholding information and bungling the crucial early days of the search.

    Rep. Michael McCaul, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said the Malaysian government squandered the early days of the search looking for the plane in Central Asia when it was likely to be found in the southern Indian Ocean.

    Message of hope ... a billboard in Kuala Lumpur sends words of support. Source: Getty Images

    “I think the Malaysian government spent way too much time focusing on the northern routes and the Gulf of Thailand and Kazakhstan,” he said on Fox News Sunday.

    “It would have been picked up by radar and we knew that.

    “And I know satellite imagery given to the Malaysians established that, but we wasted a week of precious time up in that region when all along it’s been in southern Indian Ocean, I think is where the location is.”

    Rep. Patrick Meehan said on CNN: “I think across the board people are looking for more in the way of openness from the Malaysian government in terms of sharing the information they have in a timely manner.”

    Aviation and safety expert Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger said on CBS News’ Face the Nation that early “missteps” had impaired the search effort.

    Still hoping ... a giant message of support in Kuala Lumpur. Source: Getty Images

    “Here we are ... into the third week of the investigation and just now beginning to re-narrow the search to areas that are still as large as the United States,” he said.

    Captain Sullenberger is famous for safely landing a US Airways Airbus A320 in the middle of New York’s Hudson River after its engines failed following a birdstrike in January 2009. - News Corp Australia

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  7. #27
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    Oct 2008
    Read comments for more information.

    Most people don’t know enough about Malaysia and its government. Here’s what you should understand.

    A map of Malaysia (Laris Karklis / The Washington Post)

    Malaysia's government is in the spotlight due to its handling of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared just 40 minutes after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing on March 8.

    It's an unusual situation for the country. Malaysia doesn't usually make headlines -- it's not a huge tourist destination, like its neighbor Thailand, and it hasn't had a recent disaster like the Philippines or Indonesia. Instead, Malaysia has mostly become known as a quiet success in Southeast Asia in recent years, where GDP per capita was well ahead of Thailand and Indonesia and the economy was expected to grow between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent in 2014.

    Now, with the Malaysian government facing scrutiny from all corners, everyone is beginning to wonder: Is there more to Malaysia than meets the eye?

    The geography and history of Malaysia

    Look at a map of modern Malaysia and the geography of the place may strike you as unusual. Roughly half of the country exists on the Malay Peninsula, bordering the lowest tip of Thailand. The other part of the country is on the northern part of Borneo island, which it shares with Indonesia. In both of these two parts there are smaller states: the city-state of Singapore, which sits just off the coast of the Malay Peninsula, and Brunei, which is in the Malaysian part of Borneo.

    The modern Malaysian state began with the Federation of Malaya's independence from the British Empire in 1957, but the area had been populated for a far longer time -- in Sarawak's Niah Caves in East Malaysia, there's evidence of human remains from40,000 years ago. The first independent state covering the region is commonly considered to be the Malacca sultanate, an Islamic Malay monarchy that controlled the area from 1400 to 1511, when the city of Malacca was captured by a Portuguese invasion. After a long period of Portuguese rule, the Dutch took it over in 1641, with the British Empire gradually taking over Penang in 1786, Singapore in 1819, and Malacca itself in 1824, ultimately securing control of what would later become Malaysia.

    British rule continued until World War II, when Japanese troops were able to overrun the unprepared British authorities and take over the area. After Japan lost the war, the British returned but could not regain the authority they had before due to their war. An anti-colonial insurgency known as the "Malayan Emergency" began in 1948, compelling Britain to create the Federation of Malaysia that same year, which in turn became became independent in 1957. In 1963, modern Malaysia was created with the Malaysia Agreement; North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore joined it in a new independent state, though Singapore would be expelled two years later. (Brunei, which had once been at the center of the Bruneian Empire, remained an independent, and oil-rich, sultanate).

    Malaysia's complicated ethnic politics

    Toward the end of British rule, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) emerged as a political force dedicated to protecting ethnic Malays and the Islamic religion. Since independence, the party has been a part of every government alliance.

    Today, Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, loosely modeled after the United Kingdom: The head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, effectively a monarch elected by Malaysia's traditional Malay rulers. The prime minister is the head of government, officially appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to lead a majority in Malaysia's lower house of parliament. While the constitution of Malaysia, which came into force in 1957, says all Malaysian citizens are equal, Bumiputera (a designation that refers to the indigenous people of Malaysia, including ethnic Malays) are singled out for special treatment in Article 153. That section of the constitution begins:

    1. It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

    The logic behind Article 153 was that Chinese and Indian immigrants to Malaysia had been favored during British rule, and both had subsequently gained economically while Malays and others remained in poverty.

    After independence, these economic disparities had begun to cause problems in the country: Singapore's removal from Malaysia was based in part upon a number of race riots that took place in the country between Chinese and Malay groups in 1964, and Kuala Lumpur had its own race riots in 1969. In 1971, economic measures referred to as the “New Economic Policy” (NEP) were implemented to favor Bumiputera, offering them positive discrimination in the civil service and business in a bid to improve their economic standing.

    The quiet, yet successful, economy

    Under British rule, Malaysia became one of the world's biggest exporters of tin, palm oil and rubber. And as one of the three countries that controls the Strait of Malacca, an important shipping route, it still plays a key role in international trade. High-tech manufacturing has become a successful part of Malaysia's economy, and Kuala Lumpur is now a global center for Islamic banking. The city is also home to Petronas Towers, which replaced Chicago's Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) as the world's tallest building in 1998 and held the title until 2004.

    All this has resulted in a pretty favorable economy. The Doing Business Project recently ranked the country as 6th in its annual rankings, and GDP per capita is higher than neighbors like Thailand and Indonesia.

    Despite these good signs, there have been criticisms that the country's ethnic policies were in effect creating a lack of competition and stifling opportunities for non-Bumiputera. The Economist recently noted that 25 percent of the population is thought to be Chinese and to control much of the country's business, while Indians were said to be around 7 percent and overrepresented in professional careers. The magazine warned that Malaysia faces a brain-drain unless more opportunities are put in place for non-Bumiputera ethnic groups.

    An angry opposition

    As you might expect, 50 years of virtually uncontested rule has resulted in some problems. Writing recently for Bloomberg Businessweek, Joshua Karlantzick argued that the country's ruling coalition only managed to win elections last year due to "gerrymandering, outright thuggery, and opposition parties’ inability to stop squabbling and make connections with rural voters." Despite some minor signs of change, the NEP remains a significant factor in Malaysian political life and its business world, with the ruling parties apparently afraid to alienate the Malay majority who make their base.

    The Malaysian government's manner of dealing with opposition leaders also appears to show it's on the back foot. The best-known opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, was sent to jail on corruption and sodomy charges in 2000. While the sodomy charges were overturned in 2004 and he was released, Anwar is now facing the threat of jail again on more sodomy charges.

    An ethnic Malay and former member of UMNO, Anwar was once deputy prime minister of Malaysia but fell out with leaders. He now leads a multi-ethnic three-party opposition group called Pakatan Rakyat, running on a manifesto that aims to end the NEP ethnic policies and promote a system of meritocracy.

    Why this all matters to MH370

    The response to the disappearance of MH370 from the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines (a state-run company) is seen by many as evidence of a lack of ability among the country's political and business elite -- a result of decades of positive discrimination in favor of Malays and a lack of competition in business and politics. Malaysian officials aren't used to dealing with a free and open press, and they have blundered in their attempts to deflect questions about the plane. While they are no longer suspected of involvement in the plane's disappearance, the fact that two passengers were traveling on fake documents has embarrassed both the airline and the state.

    It's possible Malaysia's internal politics could have played a direct role in the plane's disappearance. It's true, for example, that pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a member of an opposition party and distantly related to Anwar (Anwar himself has said that the speculation about political motives was "grossly unfair" to the pilot). The country's Muslim Brotherhood-styled Islamist party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), is also a part of Anwar's opposition coalition and increasing in popularity, though speculation about an Islamist-backed terrorist attack remains just speculation.

    A more likely problem for Malaysia is that of perception. A country once known for its quietly strong economy is becoming better known as something else: a disorganized, unmeritocratic country completely unable to cope with a real emergency.

    Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for the Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University. You can follow him on Twitter here.


  8. #28
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Now Everyone Can Fly … Into Malaysia Undetected


    As the search and rescue operation enters its second week, more and more countries were involved, thanks to Malaysia’s incompetency, uncertainties, contradictories and whatnot. Malaysians who are used to such government’s culture are actually surprised that the world communities were “surprised” with Malaysian present regime’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) in handling issues or crisis.

    For more than 50-years, such culture was indoctrinated by UMNO, a political party which decides “yes” or “no” within Barisan Nasional coalition. If not for this MH370 crisis, international communities would not know the true colour of the present regime. But even if they knew, would they really care? Nope, as long as foreign citizens do not get killed, nobody would make a fuss about the present regime. Anyway, welcome to Malaysia !!

    Regardless whether this operation would take months or years to conclude, there’re tons of questions that Najib administration needs to answer. Sure, he can hide, reluctantly come out to read a prepared script, and disappear again without guts to take any question from foreign journalists. But he can’t hide the fact that the country’s national security is a big joke. He had been Defence Minister for 8 years.

    While it was a known secret that Singaporean Air Force could breach the country’s airspace (2,508 intrusions between 2008 to mid-2011) as and when they like without any retaliation, the latest MH370 crisis shows and proves to the world that Malaysia’s airspace is actually open to anyone, including aliens. We’ve wrote this earlier (read here) and we would like to ask again -WTF was the air force doing when MH370 made the turn back and flew above them? Counting balls?”

    Were the radar operators away on “Teh Tarik” session? Were they playing mahjong, poker, “Candy Crush”, or simply taking their routine naps? At best, they detected it but couldn’t care less, or simply clueless what to do next. No matter what were the reasons, they’re either incompetent or purely lazy – please choose one. Can you imagine how catastrophic it could be if the MH370 was used to slam into city of Penang?

    Why were country’s top billion dollar acquisition of Sukhois, MIGs, F/A-18s not scrambled to at least check this UFO, which turns out to be MH370 after all? Unlike Malaysia; India, Pakistan and even Taliban military have responded in lightning speed that the MH370 did not enter their airspace simply because it would have triggered an immediate scramble of its fighter jets to intercept.

    Surely the multi-billion dollar RMAF’s “assets” (fighter jets) have their engines still attached, are they not? Perhaps someone forgot to remind air force pilots that potential terrorists or threats do not work from 9am to 5pm only? It was absolutely embarrassing that the military needed to go back to radar recording for confirmation (when it should be in realtime), 4 days after MH370 flew away unchallenged. Seriously, do they live on trees?

    It couldn’t be lack of fund as the Defence Ministry was allocated a staggering RM16.1 billion during the annual Budget 2014 presentation. As a matter of fact, ThalesRaytheonSystems had announced full system acceptance with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) for the Malaysian Air Defense Ground Environment Sector Operations Center III (MADGE) Program back in Feb 2013.

    In a nutshell, the MADGE system operates in real-time and features multi-radar tracking and a flexible human-machine interface. The deployment of GM 400 radar means RMAF are equipped with long-range (up to 400km) surveillance capabilities. If that was not enough to prove RMAF’s incompetency, flight MH370 was allowed to bypass not one, not two but three radar stations in northern Peninsular Malaysia.

    Of course as the Defence Minister, Hishammuddin would go all out to defend his men. But considering the seriousness on how his boys jeorpardise the country’s security, he must call a spade a spade. If there’s anything left, he should stop showing to the world that not only the government is incompetent and dumb, but also “bodoh sombong” (stupid arrogant).

    The fact that the country’s crisis management team refused FBI and other foreign investigation teams’ assistance initially speak volume about Najib administration’s arrogance. However, it wasn’t too difficult to understand why. The crisis team was in total chaos like a headless chicken. At the same time, they were scratching their heads how to cover-up their own incompetency. They must have thought they could handle this crisis as if it was another domestic problem. They were wrong.

    Most probably the local authorities did not know what hit them when their plane did not turn up in Beijing. When it was revealed that the plane has indeed vanished, they got so panicked that they couldn’t think straight. When foreign teams came knocking on their door, the authorities told them – “hold on, we’ll call you when we need you.” The authorities took ages gathering information trying to solve the puzzle by themselves. They didn’t succeed.

    First, you’ve a bunch of radar operators who don’t care a hoot about abnormal blips. Then, you’ve military genius who can’t read radar report properly. Yet, they’re too “shy” to get help from the experts and ended up wasting precious 7-days in South China Sea. Only when the U.S. hinted about Indian Ocean did Mr Rambo Hishammuddin mobilized local and foreign assets to the opposite side of the search and rescue target area. Splendid !!!

    And now, due to Malaysia government’s own screw-up, they actually expect 25 countries to surrender their radar data for study and analysis? Sure, they would be polite and tell you “hey boy, your plane is not here so go look somewhere else …”. You really think those countries are dumb folks who would obediently surrender their radar data, and in the process jeopardising their countries’ security?

    Moving forward and knowing how the present regime works, they would start finding scapegoat(s). The first winner was none other than the pilot and co-pilot. And since the pilot was pro-opposition, it would make their job much easier. A pilot who got upset with Malaysian “Kangaroo Court’s” decision for sending opposition leader Anwar to 5-years jail decided to hijack the plane to make a political statement. Yeap, dead men can’t defend themselves, can they?

    That’s weird but wouldn’t it be more productive to fly that plane into prime minister’s bedroom (*tongue-in-cheek*)? How does the authorities know the rest of the passengers and crew members are clean? FBI and the U.S. intelligence didn’t give a clean bill of health. And because the Iranian’s mum called asking for her son, the authorities concluded he was innocent?

    In fact, the whole operation got so screwed up that the Indian Government has stopped searching. The U.S. defence official also said the USS Kidd will leave the Indian Ocean and return to normal operations. Until Malaysian authorities can sort out and make sense of what they plan to do, American is deploying P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft only. Get real – Malaysian military could save the plane if they’re professional. Even if they can’t, at least they would know the location of the plane itself. They’re not and for that they SUCK !!!


  9. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Don't pander to propagation of 'no questions asked' culture

    Posted on 24/03/2014 - 09:29

    Ng Kee Seng
    Executive Editor

    OUTSPOKEN: Sixteen days after the mysterious disappearance of Flight MH370, Malaysians and the rest of the world have seen enough of Malaysia's incompetence in handling the aviation crisis.

    The missing Boeing 777 saga has also exposed gaps in Malaysia's defence capability. The country's air space can be breached for hours without any action.
    Has anyone taken responsibility for the missing MAS aircraft? Has anyone in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) taken responsibility for failing to act when Malaysia's air space was breached?

    Either someone takes responsibility for the two national embarrassments and resign or be sacked. That is what is expected of leaders in developed nations.

    This culture of "business as usual" with a damn for accountability and responsibility must stop immediately or Malaysia will continue to lag behind others.

    This brings to mind the responsibility of the media to the rakyat and country.

    My colleague Hazlan Zakaria in his comment titled "In defence of a fellow journo, Carrie Nooten" seems to be a lone figure in defending the French journalist's poor framing of questions, seemingly due to her weak command of the English language.

    I am not here to defend Nooten and her lingual weaknesses. I am here to defend the profession called "journalism" and the role of the media.

    That is the big picture that many among the 200 journalists missed when Nooten was laughed at in the March 17 MH370 media briefing by Defence Minister-cum- Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

    A close friend, now "retired" from the media industry, prompted me to pen my thoughts following a hard-hitting article by the editor-in-chief (EIC) of a Malaysian English daily, criticising Nooten.

    I will refrain from speculating why she (the EIC) did that. But I will defend the role of journalists and the media of which Nooten and all other reporters or writers are part of.

    Nooten's command of English is obviously poor but that does not give anyone the right to stop her from asking questions.

    I would say she had more guts than all those "stenographers" who rabidly accept, without questioning, what the authorities want to say and want us to hear.

    For those who are in the dark on this issue, let’s recap what the Singapore-based Radio French Internationale (RFI) correspondent asked: "Can you confirm that you are PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak's cousin? Are you protected?"

    Crude or amusing as you may wish to view the incident, as a practising journalist for 35 years, I can understand what Nooten was getting at is to get confirmation from the horse's mouth, so to speak, that Hishammuddin is indeed Najib's cousin.

    Next, she was trying to ask whether Hishammuddin was "politically protected" by Najib from any mistakes in his handling of the MH370 crisis.

    Now, do you see the link why I started this piece by highlighting the need for those in high office to take responsibility for the crisis?

    It scares me that the EIC of a national daily seized the weaknesses of Nooten to attack the foreign media without a thought for the profession and the role of the media.

    Granted that not all foreign media reports are accurate or credible, what does it say for the falling circulation and readership of the local print media?
    After 57 years of Alliance/Barisan Nasional rule, what has become of the media and its role?

    Why is the local media completely muted on the many national and international issues that had been highlighted by the alternative media and social media?

    Are all the issues to be dismissed as "rubbish"? There is no need for me to list any examples as anyone who cares to read should be well informed.

    There is even a list of 100 conspiracies and scandals dating as far back as the multi-billion-ringgit BMF scandal to the Scorpene-related Altantuya murder circulating in emails and cyberspace.

    Who is to blame for this Barisan Nasional government's culture of "ask no questions, just accept what we say or our explanations"?
    Of course journalists from the rest of the world, especially those from developed nations, are not intimidated into submission as is the case of the mainstream media in Malaysia.

    As far as the handling of MH370 is concerned, perhaps the comment of theantdaily reader, Hapie-ness Bliss, posted in the article titled "Malaysia frustrates aviation experts in the search for MH370" that reads "A good case for the study of Peter's principle" best sums up the real problem behind Malaysia's administrative and management woes.
    Ng Kee Seng believes that God helps those who help themselves. In a healthy democracy, every Malaysian has a role in politics and nation-building.


  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Clueless politicians and rivalry make search for MH370 even harder, says ex-Najib aide

    MARCH 24, 2014

    It took almost a week before acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein became the public face of the MH370 crisis with a daily media briefing on the latest developments in the search for the missing Boeing 777-200ER. – The Malaysian Insider pic, March 24, 2014.

    With the world's eyes following every move it made in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Malaysian authorities could have done better in devising a comprehensive major emergency response mechanism, said an opinion piece published today in China's Global Times.

    The opinion piece written by Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, said that at times conflicting statements issued by various Malaysian authorities, ranging from transport to the military, had only caused confusion and further grief.

    Oh was also a former political secretary to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

    "This negative perception of Malaysian handling of the present incident may be caused by two features in Malaysia's political environment that are alien to most Chinese," Oh said in the piece titled "Malaysia’s political rivalries bedevil search for lost MH370 flight".

    First, said Oh, Malaysia's public service system distinguished between civil servants who were career professionals and members of the administration, who were politicians.

    Serving civil servants could not become the political heads of their departments, he said, adding that members of the administration were ministers, deputy ministers and political secretaries.

    However, all served at the pleasure of the prime minister, who was, in turn, answerable to a democratically elected Parliament, Oh said.

    "Such politicians obviously are often not professional or even well versed in the particular ministry they happen to head.

    "And unlike China or the United States, Malaysia has not installed a 'spokesperson' system. The press conferences are chaired by the various politicians in person. When facing the onslaught of the international media, some politicians shine while others wane," Oh said in his Global Times piece.

    The second factor, said Oh, was that on the surface, Malaysia practised a centralised political system in which the prime minister or ruling party president devised policies and subordinate departments executed them.

    In reality, to make it to the top of the Malaysian political hierarchy, Oh said, politicians needed to have a group of influential supporters.

    "These political supporters, in turn, grab more supporters, and the same pattern persists all the way down to the level of the average voters.

    "In order to retain their support, high-level politicians have to dish out various types of political largesse, most prominent of which is a ministership. Once appointed a minister, the politician will typically develop his ministry into essentially a personal fiefdom.

    "And since rivalry is rife among most politicians, inter-departmental cooperation or even just coordination is extremely difficult, even in the face of a major crisis."

    Oh said this could explain why it took almost a week before a lead agency was appointed to coordinate the handling of the MH370 search efforts.

    "Malaysian political reality dictates that some ministers will not accept being led by others, for fear of losing face.

    "But paradoxically, as the resolution of the present incident may drag on and thus attract further criticism of weak leadership, understandably none of the ministers concerned is particularly keen to shoulder the lead." – March 24, 2014.

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