Out-of-this-world reporting and unusual theories have only added to the confusion surrounding the missing flight MH370.
IT’S breaking news. And it could be heartbreaking news. The Australians have seen some debris which could be from the missing MAS flight MH370. We don’t know for sure and we probably won’t for a day or two yet.
That is the way it has been since the Boeing 777-200 went missing two weeks ago.
As the world watched Malaysia, journalists from around the globe were frantically looking for nuggets of information.
As each day passed, speculation flew. And we still do not know if Flight MH370 was hijacked. Or if it was terrorism, a sinister plot being carried out or just a tragic accident.
But journalists needed to feed the information-hungry public, they had to fill pages, bring in the eyeballs. So, they reported what they could. And the reporting has sometimes been out of this world. Literally.
There was this report in Sunday Sport – a British tabloid that is anything but a sports newspaper – that claimed the plane had been found – on the moon.
It was the second story on its cover. The main story was about Cheryl Cole going topless. That tells you something about that tabloid.
There have been many others. One of the first e-mails many of us in The Star got was from some Indian group called Promoters of Superscience. They had a bizarre theory.
Some aliens, it seems, had snatched the aeroplane with the human beings in it to another planet or to some corner of space for their “superior scientific experiments”.
They claimed that these aliens had actually landed in Delhi in May 2001 to conduct their earth experiments. And that there are worlds or universes out there that we know nothing about.
It was all very History Channel-like.
Then, we had our very own magician. Raja Bomoh Ibrahim Mat Zin has become an international phenomenon with copycats around the world.
Not only are there people all over sitting in three on mats and rowing like crazy, he has also inspired an online game app called Bomoh Rescue Run. Two coconuts in hand, a bomoh scours the seas and the skies for the aeroplane in the game.
The word bomoh has become one of the most searched on Google as well. Oh, and there’s an app called Crocodile Slap as well.
Our raja bomoh has his theories, too. He also claims that there are other-worldly beings out there. And he tells of how, on a flight to Kota Kinabalu, he met up with Garuda.
No, not the Indonesian airline. Garuda is a mythical bird-like creature from the Hindu scriptures who served as Vishnu’s mount.
Whether or not the plane has been taken by Garuda-like beings, the bomoh will not say.
But he is still looking up there into the skies with his own version of “telescopes” both from KLIA and other parts of the country.
He may be a publicity-seeker or something of a nuisance to some but I will give him this – he seems to care about what happened to the plane. As we all must.
There are others who care too and want to find out what happened – by whatever means, orthodox or not.
A Ramachandra Guruji in India hypnotised two of his followers to try and get into the minds of the passengers and the captain, to understand what had happened.
Others have had dreams. One woman even saw compass points in her dream – they pointed to some place near Somalia, quite an unlikely spot.
Another man dreamt that the plane was in the Arabian Sea.
Some Shiva Siddhar followers in Malaysia circulated a Facebook posting of the plane being near Sri Lanka while some holy types in Sri Lanka claimed the plane is off Sumatra.
It’s all very confusing and, in many cases, irritating.
But even as the Australians search the seas, there is one thing we must have, it’s hope – and a determination to find the plane and the people in it.
My thoughts go out to the families, especially those of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
After all, we have a lot in common.
He was a neighbour of sorts, living in Jalan Maqbul, just off Perak Road, where my family home was. We are both Penang Free School boys and we were both in Five Science 2, although he’s a year younger.
For all of two weeks, I have held out hope. And I have kept my fingers crossed that he will return home safely – and that we can strike up a friendship that we did not have back then.
I still hope the Australians are wrong. One way or the other, we will know soon.
> The writer, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, has to emphasise that while there were some absurdities and even funny stories along the way, the tragedy of MH370 is something that cannot be taken lightly.