BENTONG: The next of kin of the passengers and crew aboard the missing Flight MH370 will be briefed about the suspension of the search mission after the Chinese New Year.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the meetings would be coordinated by Malaysia Airlines at locations to be decided later.
“Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has agreed to send its experts to explain the details to the family members,” he said yesterday.
Liow, who is also MCA president and Bentong MP, was speaking to reporters after a walkabout at the Bentong morning market.
He had just returned from Perth, Australia, where he had an informal bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart Darren Chester and received the Fugro Equator, one of the ships tasked to map the sea floor in the southern Indian Ocean where MH370 was believed to have ended its journey in 2014.
The Beijing-bound flight mysteriously disappeared on March 8, 2014, and has remained a huge aviation mystery.
Liow said the massive and difficult search for the missing aircraft, which had covered 120,000sq km of the sea floor in almost three years, is suspended for the time being.
Further analysis of data and debris that has been recovered will be carried out.
He said experts had identified another 25,000sq km sea area north of the existing search area as a probable site to expand the search, but the three countries – Malaysia, Australia and China – decided not to proceed as the proposal did not pinpoint the exact location of the aircraft.
“It is just a probability. We need evidences that are more credible, which is why a further analysis of data is necessary,” Liow said.
He added that a response team, to be led by the Department of Civil Aviation, will be formed to handle future matters related to MH370.
The team will consist of officials from the Foreign Ministry, Home Ministry, Communications and Multimedia Ministry, MAS and other agencies.
“The team will move in quickly to retrieve any debris that might surface in the future, and decide if the pieces should be sent to Australia for analysis,” Liow said.
Twenty-five pieces of debris are now in the experts’ hands; three of which have been confirmed to be part of MH370, five were “most certain” to be from the missing aircraft while the others were still being examined.
Liow said the search team would work closely with coastal countries in Africa, where MH370 debris have surfaced.
He also added that while in Perth, he also received letters from Voice MH370, the next of kin support group, from Air Crash Support Group chairperson Sheryl Keen.
At the Bentong morning market, Liow gave out mandarin oranges to the traders and shoppers ahead of the Chinese New Year celebration this weekend.
He said the market building, which is at least 50 years old, would receive a facelift.
The Bentong Municipal Council will be in charge of identifying areas that needed repairs.
At another function at the SJK (C) Khai Mun Pagi here, Liow launched the Liow Tiong Lai education fund to motivate pupils to excel in their studies and co-curricular activities.
In his speech, Liow said education empowers the children to unleash their full potential.
“I grew up in a plantation. Many of my peers could not complete their education because their families could not afford the school fees.
“As Bentong MP, I place great importance on the development of education here and wish for the advancement of Chinese education,” he said.
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