MH370: Still an unsolved mystery

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Millions of ringgit have been spent in the search for the missing plane, but it has been fruitless, says Henry Loh.

A few days ago, 8 March marked the anniversary of the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 jet airliner MH370 that was bound for Beijing from KL.

One can only imagine the pain and sense of loss felt by the families and close friends of the 239 passengers and crew. Millions of ringgit have been spent in the search, but it has been fruitless.

The authorities including our Minister of Transport have consistently expressed confidence that the plane will be found. But as time marches on, conspiracy theories gain ground and many, especially the families of the missing passengers and crew, are increasingly dissatisfied. They lament the fact that the authorities have not been entirely transparent and forthcoming with the investigation results.

We continue to pray for the families and friends of the passengers and crew of MH 370 and urge the authorities to provide full disclosure. That is the very least they could do.

International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated on 8 March with the theme “Make It Happen”. IWD has been celebrated since the 1900s, and one of its key thrusts is to narrow gender gaps and foster equality. Twenty years has passed since the ground-breaking United Nations (UN) women’s conference held in Beijing, where 189 countries adopted a blueprint to achieve equality for women. Sad to say, Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka announced that “not a single country has reached gender parity and equality”.

To ‘make it happen’ the Executive Director of UN Women is calling world leaders “to join women in a great partnership for human rights, peace and development. We call on them to show an example in their own lives of how equality benefits everyone: man, woman and child. And we call on them to lead and invest in change at a national level to address the gender equality gaps that we know still persist.”

To ‘make it happen’, Veronica Anne Retnam, is calling for a return to an eight-hour day as opposed to the current 12-hour shifts that many workers are being subjected to. Although these long shift hours affect all genders, many women feel the extra pressure because they also find themselves responsible for the domestic chores at home. Women subjected to this “double burden” find it extremely difficult to cope, and family life suffers.

To ‘make it happen’, Syerleena Abdul Rashid, is calling for a stop to all forms of violence against women including the online bullying and the misogyny that is rampant in cyberspace. She quotes the brave Malala Yousafzai: “I raise up my voice – not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

To ‘make it happen, Praseetha Naidu, encourages all of us to break free and not to dance within the boundaries of gender stereotypes. Men can sew and women can repair motorbikes, she says.

For many months now, the government-owned strategic fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), has been extensively discussed and reported on, particularly, in online news portals. Opposition politicians such as PJ Utara MP Tony Pua and others have been calling for full disclosure and thorough investigations into the real financial position of the strategic fund.

These calls were largely ignored and the official response had mostly been “all is well and everything is under control”.

But the persistence of truth seekers, aided somewhat by the unexpected entry of former PM Mahathir and other ex-Umno leaders into the ranks of those who want the accounts of 1MDB thoroughly investigated and audited has led to PM Najib calling for the Auditor General to step in.

The top cop of the nation announced that a task force consisting of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney General‘s Chambers and the Police has been formed to probe the reports lodged against 1MDB. Will we get a true and fair picture of the actual financial position of 1MDB and how the funds were utilised? It remains to be seen how much will be disclosed at the end of the probe.

Terrorism and the dangers posed by extremist religious groups such as the Islamic State (IS) have been hitting both the local and international news pages. The involvement of two Malaysian Islamic State (IS) fighters in a video of a beheading in Syria made the front pages of many newspapers. Peace-loving Malaysians will no doubt join the chorus of voices calling for an end to the inhumane violence demonstrated by the extremist groups.

One response from the Home Minister, as an antidote to fight and prevent this violence, is the tabling of a “Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota)” at the current parliamentary sitting. Zahid is adamant that the Act be tabled regardless of what the critics say.

We in Aliran number among the critics for the simple reason that the proposed Act allows for detention without trial. It reminds us of the dark days when the Internal Security Act (ISA) was abused and misused by the powers that be to put away dissidents and political opponents.

Detention without recourse to a proper and fair trial is a gross violation of human rights. To reassure citizens, lawmakers should ensure that there are proper checks and balance within the proposed Pota so that the basic human right to a fair trial in open court is upheld.

Henry Loh

Co-editor, Aliran e-newsletter

10 March 2015

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