When I first heard the news on Saturday, I could not believe my ears. It was most depressing and unsettling to hear Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 on the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing has gone “missing.”
Unfortunately, we live in a time and age when many of us have become somewhat apathetic to media reports on accidents. However, it always hurts most when it is close to home. Both Bangladesh and Malaysia have had strong diplomatic, economic, educational, cultural, and labour ties for decades. On a personal level, Malaysia is my country of birth and makes this news even harder to digest.
Foremost, our heart goes out to the family members of the passengers and crew from Malaysia, China, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, India, Russia, Indonesia, France, Netherlands, and Ukraine. Though we are still hoping and praying for a miracle, we can only imagine how traumatic this ordeal must be for the family members. No words can be solace for them.
Our solidarity is for Malaysia and Malaysians during this difficult time. We share your pain. We also stand by Malaysia Airlines in this emergency. Let us not forget MAS has so far had one of the most outstanding safety records in the world. I have always felt at home aboard, and this will not change for me.
There have been many rumours circulating online ever since the plane went missing, including the possibility of a terrorist attack. The case of at least two passengers who boarded the plane with stolen passports definitely raises suspicion of foul play, it seems too much of a coincidence that both passports were stolen in Thailand. Tickets were apparently booked through Southern China Airlines and purchased together. Other speculation is more hopeful, for instance, claims that the cell phone of one of the passengers is still ringing.
We don’t know the truth, but we can only hope.
As for the official response and emergency mobilisation, one thing that struck me is how Malaysian officials, including Defence and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn, have been so candid, forthright, and most importantly sensitive to the family members of those in the missing flight. It was constructive that the press conferences did not have the typical ambiance of officialdom normally expected, but a high level of sincerity and honesty that is truly impressive.
By being accessible and communicative, Malaysian authorities have dispelled rumours, but at the same time addressed public concerns as much as possible. What touched me most was the high level of empathy and engagement by not only the minister but every other civil and military official.
This is what we expect from those serving the public with taxpayer money. I think there is something here for other countries in the region to learn from Malaysia on handling emergency situations with professionalism and compassion.
In the meantime, our prayers go out for Flight MH 370. Our prayers are for the passengers, crew, and family members, while we stand by Malaysia, Malaysians, and Malaysia Airlines in this difficult time for all of you, in fact, for all of us. God bless us, and bring us some good news, please.