MH370 Preliminary Report: Not a Good Day to a Malaysian


May 2, 2014

MH370 Preliminary Report: Not a Good Day to a Malaysian

by  Lim Kit Siang

Hisham, Najib, and MuhiyuddinToday is not a good day to be a Malaysian as the world wakes up to critical and adverse media headlines on the Malaysian preliminary report on the missing MH370 Boeing 777-200 completing its eighth week of vanishing into the air with 239 passengers and crew on board without leaving any wreckage or clue as to what had happened on the fateful morning of March 8.

The Four Hour Gap

It took 17 minutes for air traffic controllers to realise that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had disappeared from their screens - and four hours to launch a rescue operation.

It took 17 minutes for air traffic controllers to realise that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had disappeared from their screens – and four hours to launch a rescue operation.

All over the world, the media splashed the shocking headlines of the admission from the first Malaysian official report that nobody noticed that Flight MH370 was missing for 17 minutes and no search was launched for another four hours.

Instead of answering the many questions that have been raised in the past eight weeks of the MH 370 disaster, both the preliminary report and the statement by the Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein accompanying it have only provoked more questions.

Firstly, the five-page preliminary report on the missing MH 370 had been described as “scant at best” in contrast to the preliminary report into Air France 447 which was released one month after the plane disappeared and which was 128 pages long, while a preliminary report into the Qantas engine explosion over Singapore in 2010 was more than 40 pages with diagrams and charts.

The table below is based on recorded communications on direct lines, summarising the events associated to MH370 after the radar blip disappeared until activation of the Rescue Coordination Centre.

The table above  summarising the events associated to MH370 after the radar blip disappeared on the first day .

The Malaysian government preliminary report makes one safety recommendation, for real-time air tracking to be installed on all commercial aircraft, viz:

“There have now been two occasions during the last five years when large commercial air transport aircraft have gone missing and their last position was not accurately known. This uncertainty resulted in significant difficulty in locating the aircraft in a timely manner.”

The same recommendation was made after the Air France jet crashed into the Atlantic in 2009, though nothing was done to satisfy the proposal.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s democracy is best in the world.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s democracy is best in the world.

More pertinent, however, is why the preliminary report which was dated three weeks ago on April 9 was not made public earlier, and why the relatives of the passengers and crew on board the missing plane had not been briefed on its contents before its public release.

For the first time in 56 days, Malaysians are told that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had on the very same morning of the missing MH370, ordered the search and rescue operations to be extended to the Straits of Malacca, alongside that being carried out in the South China Sea.

Was this true that right from the very beginning of the search-and-rescue operation for the MH 370 on the morning of May 8, the search area had been extended from South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca?

If so, why didn’t Hishammuddin announce it earlier, instead of waiting for 55 days until yesterday in a statement accompanying the publication of the government’s preliminary report on the missing MH370?

It is to be noted that this new and hitherto unknown information to the public that the SAR operation area had right from the beginning on the same morning of the missing Boeing 77 been extended from the South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca was not disclosed in the preliminary report dated April 9 but in Hishammuddin’s statement dated May 1, 2014!

Furthermore, Najib himself did not seem to know that he had ordered the search area to be extended from the South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca the very same morning of the missing aircraft, for he made no mention of such extension in his press conference on May 8 held just after 7 pm where he announced the expansion of the search area after the SAR mission team found no wreckage in the plane’s last location before it disappeared from radar at 1.21 earlier in the morning.

Najib had said then that the first phase of the search efforts focused on the area where the plane’s signal was last picked up, had proved unsuccessful in locating it, and the search area was being “expanded as wide as possible”.

Civil Aviation Department Director-General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (pic–on Hishamuddin’s left), mh370-hishammuddinwho was present at Najib’s press conference, spelt out the meaning of this expansion of the search area by saying that “we are searching in Malaysian and Vietnamese waters”.

The next day, on Sunday, 9th March, Azharuddin told the press that the search operation had been expanded further from the initial 20 nautical miles in the South China Sea to 50 nautical miles – no mention whatsoever of its expansion to the Straits of Malacca.

Unless Hishammuddin can give satisfactory explanation for these new additional discrepancies in the latest official accounts of what happened in the first crucial days of the SAR for the missing MH 370, he has only himself to blame if the government preliminary report and his statement accompanying it suffer a serious credibility gap.

This is why a report by an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on the MH 370 disaster would have greater credibility than a unilaterial statement by Hishammuddin, especially when new facts suddenly surface as if to embellish the government’s version of what happened in the crucial first few days of the MH 370 disaster.

Fatal omissions

Chief of the RMAF, Rodzali DaudThere are many fatal omissions in the government preliminary report – for instance, the failure to explain the many flip-flops, contradictions and confusions in the information given out by the various authorities, for instance, the initial information that MH 370 had lost contact at 2.40 am when it was subsequently established that the aircraft disappeared from the Malaysian air traffic controllers’ radar at 1.21 am Malaysian time.

But the most fatal error which still cries out for explanation is why it took another four hours before the search-and-rescue (SAR) operation was launched, when time is of the essence in such cases as the sooner a SAR mission is initiated, the greater the possibility of finding the wreckage and casualties.

Under civil aviation emergency standard operating procedures, an Uncertainty Phase (INCERFA) should be invoked within 30 minutes when there is concern about the safety of an aircraft or its occupants.

An Alert Phase (ALERFA) should be invoked when there is apprehension about the safety of an aircraft and its occupants, or when communication from an aircraft has not been received within 60 minutes.

A Distress Phase (DETRESFA) should be invoked when there is reasonable certainty that the aircraft or its occupantsw are threatened by grave and imminent danger – or when following an Alert Phase, further attempts to establish communications with the aircraft are unsuccessful

All these emergency standard operating procedures were violated in the MH 370 case, for ALERFA should have been declared at 1.51 am, ALERTA at 2.21 am and DETRESFA before 3 am to lauch a full-scale SAR operation instead of delaying until 5.30 am that day!

Another grave omission is the role of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the military radar in the MH 370 disaster.

Lim Kit Siang is the DAP Adviser & MP for Gelang Patah

 

A Constitutional Farce and an Inauspicious Start for Premier Najib


May 18, 2013

COMMENT: When do you things in a hurry, you are bound to overlook procedures and ignore past practices. But this “oversight” is more serious than that. The appointments of Wahid and Paul Low as Ministers and Loga and Ahmad Bashah as Deputy Ministers are in violation of Article 43 (1) (b) and Article 43A(1) of the Federal Constitution. Unless they are formally sworn in as Senators, they cannot take up their ministerial posts.

One would have thought that the Attorney-General would have been consulted before these appointments were made. Of course, our public officials think that this “glitch” is a technical issue that can be easily rectified by swearing them in as members of Dewan Negara. In truth, a violation is a violation.

ALI HAMSAWhat an inauspicious start for the Prime Minister. Perhaps, the Chief Secretary to the Government, Dr Ali Hamsa, should take rap for failing to ensure that all ministerial appointments as in this instance comply with the provisions of our constitution. His job is to ensure that our Prime Minister is  NOT put in a very awkward position.

Dr Ali should know that Government is serious business. Maybe, Caesar’s wife can teach him a thing or two about good housekeeping. Always do the right thing. –Din Merican

A Constitutional Farce and  an Inauspicious Start for Premier Najib

by Lim Kit Siang

What a constitutional farce – Paul Low and Abdul Wahid Omarwaythamoorthy not legally Ministers and Waytha, Loga and Ahmad Bashah not legally Deputy Ministers as they have not been sworn in as Senators

It is neither a good omen nor a good start for Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s post-13GE Cabinet.

Already Najib’s new Cabinet labours under a cloud of legitimacy for the simple reason that Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Prime Ministership is under a cloud of legitimacy – not only because Najib and Barisan Nasional got 47% popular vote as compared to Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat’s 51% popular vote, but also because the 13GE was the most unfair and dirtiest general elections in the nation’s history.

If the 13th GE had been clean, free and fair, with a level playing field for both coalitions, Anwar and PR would not only have an increased popular vote over 60 per cent or even exceeding 65 per cent, but would also have won a majority of the 222 parliamentary seats in the country.

There are 10 Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, the PM, DPM and eight Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, more than the four Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department in the last Cabinet.

There are 10 Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, the PM, DPM and eight Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, more than the four Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department in the last Cabinet.

Now, Najib’s post-13GE Cabinet has also become a farce and even a joke as it has two illegal Ministers and three illegal Deputy Ministers although they have gone through an unlawful oath-taking ceremony before the Yang di Pertuan Agong on May 17, 2013.

Paul-LowIt is sad and shocking that the Prime Minister’s Department and the various government departments involved have become so careless, negligent and remiss that the fullest compliance with the proper laws, regulations, proprieties and protocols have been ignored or even violated – which should never have happened in a 56-year-old parliamentary democracy under six Prime Ministers.

Even the Transparency International-Malaysia Election Integrity Pledge signed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak on February 20 to comply and observe four principles of good governance had been disregarded, the four principles being:

  • Truth, integrity, ethical conduct and accountability, including not accepting or giving bribes or being involved in corrupt practices in any way;

  • Upholding and giving priority to the interests of the rakyat as a whole;

  • Good governance and transparency; and

  • Compliance with all the applicable laws and regulations of Malaysia.

It cannot be more ironical that Paul Low, President of TI-M who witnessed Najib’s signing of the Election Integrity Pledge is himself party to the violation of the Pledge on his appointment as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Yesterday, after the swearing-in ceremony for Ministers and Deputy Ministers before the Yang di Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah at Istana Negara, Najib convened a two-hour Cabinet session at the Cabinet Room in Putrajaya.

However, a dark cloud hanged over both proceedings – as up to the present moment, Datuk Paul Low and Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar (both Prime Minister’s Department) are not legally Ministers and Waytha Moorthy (PM’s Office), Dr. J. Loga Bala Mohan (Federal Territories) and Datuk Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah (Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism) are not legally Deputy Ministers as they have not been sworn in as Senators.

Was the two-hour first Cabinet meeting yesterday tainted by illegality because of the attendance of two illegal Ministers, Paul Low and Abdul Wahid.

Today, Paul Low is already giving interviews as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, which he is not entitled to, as his Ministerial appointment can only take effect when he is sworn in as Senator – which is very clear from Article 43 (1) (b) in the case of Ministers and Article 43A(1) in the case of Deputy Ministers.

I am given to understand that up to now, there has been no swearing in of the five for them to take up the two Ministerial and three Deputy Ministerial appointments.

We have illegal voters....and now we have illegal Ministers

We have illegal voters….and now we have illegal Ministers

Is there going to be a “rushed” midnight swearing-in of the five as Senators? Najib should explain how such a glaring breach of the Constitution and the law as well as causing embarrassment to the Yang di Pertuan Agong in producing such a farce of Cabinet-making could happen.

Business-Politics Nexus: DAP reaffirms its stand against the Foochow Cousins in Perak


January 3, 2013

Business-Politics Nexus: DAP reaffirms its stand against the Foochow cousins in Perak

by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: It’s been bruited about on the grapevine that the DAP has drawn a line against its elected legislators getting involved in business.

The issue came up when it was revealed in the Perak State Assembly last month that the party’s state chief, Ngeh Koo Ham, and his cousin, Nga Kar Ming, have landed interests in Kelantan.

Word has it that the duo would shortly announce a move that should see them divested of their holdings in Kelantan which had qualified them to be members of the landed gentry, a dubious distinction for politicos from a party of social democratic aspirations.

NONEThe business-politics nexus is the widely acknowledged cause of UMNO-BN’s decline as a political power. The corruption and nepotism that this nexus has engendered has left the once powerful coalition too enfeebled to implement the reforms deemed necessary to regain its popularity among voters.

Once this nexus is forged, it’s fiendishly difficult to eradicate. Unchecked, its tendrils penetrate to every corner of the polity and soon enough the conglomerate that holds power is in a freefall to disaster.

The DAP, poised with the rest of the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat to take federal power in the country at the coming polls, would be loath to see this canker in the ruling coalition replicated by some among the party’s Perak power brokers.

The question now arises whether the move by Ngeh and Nga in being involved in the business of plantation agriculture was due to a lapse of judgement or was the result of a mindset in which the acquisition of political power is prelude to the accumulation of wealth.

Fong Po Kuan troubled

For some years now, the DAP has been at a loss as to how to deal with the Foochow cousins who rule the roost in a state where the party has almost 200 branches and 17 state assembly representatives, figures that provide the contingent with formidable clout at both internal party elections and in state coalition politics.

Word of their overbearing nature started to spread from the time DAP’s MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan, intimated that she was not willing to re-contest her seat at the 12th general election in 2008.

Though she was publicly discreet about the reasons for her reluctance, speculation arose that it was due to her dismay at the machinations of Ngeh and Nga, who combine like a tag team to wrestle away any threat from quarters they view as rivals to their grip on party affairs in Perak.

fong po kuan and chong chien jen walkout suspended from parliament 061108 03The feisty Fong (left)reconsidered her reluctance and chose to stand again but elected to remain distant from the state party affairs.

She retained her Batu Gajah seat in the 2008 general election and went on to become the DAP’s most regular attendee whenever Parliament is in session.

This is a feature of no mean worth given that at one time, when the DAP-backed Pakatan Rakyat held state government reins in Perak, the party had up to nine legislators serving in state executive council positions while being federal reps which compelled a juggling of responsibilities regarded as almost impossible to bring off.

Assiduity in the execution of a single role was Fong’s response to the schemes of the territorial barons in Perak. Because Fong chose not to publicly bleat about her discontent with Ngeh and Nga, observers could only speculate about the way the cousins operate.

When the DAP state assemblyperson for Jelapang crossed the aisle in February 2009, a desertion that brought the 11-month Pakatan government of Perak to an end, she muttered about the conduct of the cousins as having prompted her to leave.

However, the word of a quisling is seldom credible and so what blame there was to be apportioned for her desertion could not be fixed on the cousins.

One candidate one seat’ policy

But matters were different when a short while later the party’s MP for Ipoh Barat and national vice-chairperson M Kulasegaran verged on a decision to quit his posts when tensions from rivalry between state factions got to him.

dap convention shah alam 080112 nga kulasegaranIt took a late night trip to Ipoh by the party’s national leaders to persuade Kulasegaran (far right) to stay put.

The latter’s grouse: party branches with his supporters were being deregistered while new ones, stacked with the cousins’ proxies, were being opened.

The party’s principal Indian leader who have worked hard to build up Indian support for a Chinese-dominated party seeking to widen its support base could not help but cry foul, particularly when the cousins enticed Indian leaders Kulasegaran had groomed to ditch him.

Against this backdrop the call sounded from national chairperson Karpal Singh for a ‘one candidate one seat’ policy that he said the party should adopt to widen opportunities for DAP members to be elected to state and federal legislatures. The Perak cousins were both state assembly representatives and MPs.

Soon anti-DAP blogs began to circulate stories of the business interests of the cousins, one item being Nga wife’s interest in a tailoring concern that was said to have had a contract to suit Ipoh City councillors when Pakatan was in charge of the state government.

But nothing more damaging to DAP’s image as a party set against corruption and cronyism emerged than when news broke last month that Ngeh and Nga had proprietary interests in a huge estate, slated for palm oil cultivation, in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

Casual observers of parliamentary proceedings in the month of October recalled that both Ngeh and Nga held forth on the oil palm industry in Budget debates, without declaring that they had a pecuniary interest in the matter.

This gave retrospective justification to all the earlier murmurings against the cousins in Perak. The national leadership of the party knew they must act: they have chosen to give the thumbs down to any attempt by their elected representatives to mix politics with business.

In the next days, DAP’s Perak cousins will have to tell of how they have trimmed their business sails to accord with the party’s directive.