PUTRAJAYA: Amidst the relentless glare of the international spotlight for the past three weeks, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has drawn strength from the Malaysian families who miss their loved ones on board MH370.
“The hardest thing is seeing the hope in their eyes. For me, as the minister in charge, this meeting with the families has been hard,” said the acting Transport Minister. “But, in a way, meeting them has given me the strength to persevere.”
Hishammuddin met with the affected families again yesterday, having met them earlier when the disaster first struck.
He stressed to them that they had been very much on his mind, besides assuring them repeatedly that the search would not be abandoned.
“When I indicated to them that I didn’t have the answer to where their loved ones are, I think they appreciated that. This gives me strength to continue another day,” a sombre Hishammuddin told reporters.
In a packed conference room of about 100 family members, Hishammuddin and his wife Tengku Datin Seri Panglima Marsilla Tengku Abdullah embraced the next-of-kin, weeping along with some of them and answered their multitude of queries.
The most asked question was the one that had been bugging the families since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the plane had “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean.
They asked Hishammuddin to explain that phrase. Hishammuddin patiently elaborated that it was based on credible satellite data and visuals which left little doubt of the plane’s trajectory.
As the room grew silent, Hishammuddin said that he, too, was holding on to hope that there would be survivors.
“I told them that we are not going to stop, not just Malaysia but the other 26 countries taking part in the search operation.
“I promised them that no matter how remote the chances are in finding any survivor, our utmost priority always was that. If there is any information on survivors, we will pursue it. We are hoping against hope,” he told reporters.
He also said the families had requested for a smoother and more sensitive communication between them and Malaysia Airlines.
“We can understand the families’ sensitivity. We appeal to everyone to pray and hope that a miracle will happen and that we will indeed find survivors.”
Mohamad Sahril Shaari, a cousin of passenger Muhammad Razahan Zamani, said he was satisfied with the explanation, saying “this was the first time in weeks someone has given me clear answers”.
“Before this, it was like everything went unexplained and was just left hanging, which made my family confused and anxious. I’m glad he (Hishammuddin) was frank with us and I’m still hoping for the best for Razahan,” he said, adding that he was waiting for physical proof of MH370’s end before allowing himself to grieve.
Selamat Omar, 60, the father of aviation engineer Mohamad Khairul Amri who was on the plane, said he was still hoping for the best and that his meeting with Hishammuddin had renewed his faith that his son was alive.
“I am confident they are going the find them. I thank the minister for being considerate to us,” he added.