In shock: The family of Firman Chandra in tears while watching television coverage on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane at their home in Medan. -EPA
JAKARTA: The government will work with the Malaysian government to assist the families of seven Indonesians who were on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, lost en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Foreign Ministry director for legal aid and protection of Indonesian nationals overseas, Tatang Budie Utama Razak, said the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had been working and sharing data with the Malaysian government since the plane was declared missing early on Saturday morning.
At the time of going to press, the search for the plane was still ongoing and the government feared the worst for all the Indonesian passengers.
“We will decide whether we are going to bring the families of the victims to Kuala Lumpur or cities near the location of the plane crash or directly send the bodies (in the worst case) of the victims to Indonesia when the exact location of the ill-fated plane is determined,” Tatang said.
According to the flight manifest issued by Malaysia Airlines, seven Indonesians were aboard the missing aircraft. They have been identified as Ferry Indra Suadaya, Herry Indra Suadaya, Indra Suria Tanurisam, Willy Surijanto Wang, Firman Chandra Siregar, Lo Sugianto and Chynthia Vinny.
If the whereabouts of the Indonesian victims could not be located, Tatang said, the ministry would try to find the best solution to facilitate the families.
The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has opened a command post for the families of the Indonesian passengers aboard the missing Boeing 777-200 aircraft. The embassy can be contacted by phone at +60321164016/4017, by fax at +60321417908 or by email at email@example.com.
Tatang said the ministry had assigned its officials in KL International Airport to keep in touch with Malaysia Airlines. He added that the ministry had received the passport numbers of all of the Indonesian passengers and contacted their families.
CH Siregar, the father of Firman Chandra, said in Medan that his son had just got a job with oilfield service company Schlumberger. He was supposed to be posted to Beijing for three years, media reports have said.
Johannes Sutrysno Pangaribuan, a former fellow student at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) said Firman Chandra was a diligent student and was active in ITB’s North Sumatra Art Unit (UKSU).
“He was a representative council member of the UKSU. It is like the House of Representatives in the organisation, and we both had a pretty good interaction there,” he said.
He said Firman Chandra was involved in many activities in the Electrical Engineering Union (HME). Both Johannes and Firman Chandra took the same sub-major, electrical power, as their focus of study.
Indonesian Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Hadi Tjahjanto said they would respond to any request to help search for the missing aircraft, using their base in the Natuna Islands, in Riau province.
Hadi said that the air force would be ready at any time to assist in the search operation.
“As soon as we receive a request, we could help the Malaysian government to search for the missing passengers. Our Natuna-based team is still observing the conditions in the South China Sea at the moment.”
Transportation Ministry acting spokesman Bambang S. Ervan said that Malaysia Airlines was one of the most popular South-East Asian airlines for Indonesian international travelers.
Bambang said that the airline had been able to fill the gap in limited international capacity for air passengers in the country.
“Malaysia Airlines keeps expanding its business in Indonesia and it shows the strong demand for international travel services among people here,” he said.
Malaysia Airlines has been operating in Indonesia for more than 40 years. At the end of 2012, they increased their Jakarta–Kuala Lumpur service from six to seven times daily. The airline also connects Malaysia’s capital city to Medan, North Sumatra and Denpasar, Bali. — The Jakarta Post / Asia News Network