MALAYSIAN aviation made headlines once more when Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH17 crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region on July 17. It happened so suddenly and having not yet recovered from MH370 tragedy, it caught literally everyone by surprise.
My heart sank upon hearing the news. None of the 298 who perished when the plane was brought down deserved this end. Even sadder, there were innocent children on board.
On a personal note, upon hearing the news, I quickly glanced through the list of victims to see if anyone I knew was on the plane. I didn’t. But being Malaysian, the news of 43 countrymen perishing still hit home. The tragedy has taught me that life is too short and unpredictable and we must learn to cherish everyone around us.
From the moment the news of the crash broke, nations like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia , Germany voiced their concerns, pointed fingers and demanded answers from Russia and Ukraine on how a tragedy like this could happen. Tune in to any news channel and you see Vladimir Putin’s being pressured to provide clear answers.
But lying on the crash site in Ukraine was a Malaysian plane. Malaysian victims. Malaysian black boxes. And and to a certain extend, a perception of Malaysia.
Victims’ families were in a state of shock. Crying and wailing was inevitable, but not knowing when they would be able to secure the bodies of their loved ones was the primary source of sadness.
Credit has to be given to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai for the retrieval of bodies and black boxes from separatist leaders in Donetsk. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, the Prime Minister took the risk to send officials into a war zone to meet armed rebels whose Government almost no one recognised.
“While European governments wrestled with how to get to the site without legitimising the rebels or risking security, Najib put aside diplomatic protocol and safety fears and sent his team,” it said.
Leading the officials was Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He may have been thrust into the unwelcome spotlight but with total calmness, his statements to international media were precise and clear. Leading 133 delegates to Ukraine showed his leadership qualities.
Malaysians have been united in facing this calamity. Even opposition leaders like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng have supported our Prime Minister in his call for swift justice to be taken against the perpetrators of this crime against humanity.
Nevertheless, there were some, like Perak DAP Chief Nga Kor Ming, Rantau Panjang MP Siti Zailah Yusof and Kedah PAS Youth Leader Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman who made unwelcome remarks. These individuals, as expected, were criticised by Malaysians for their comments.
This is clearly not the time to claim political points and point fingers. It is not the time to shift the blame to MAS, or make allegations about the way MAS air stewardesses dress or the way beverages are sold on the aircraft. Statements like these make no sense and worse, they are insensitive and hurtful to the victims’ families.
We shouldn’t need a calamity to be united. But somehow, that is what has happened and now, we Malaysians should rise up together, stronger than ever.
I urge all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion and political background to be united on two fronts.
First, let’s give the Malaysians who died a respectful send off.
Secondly, let’s support our Prime Minister’s in his endeavour to securing justice for the deceased, especially the Malaysians.
We call for justice. We call for unrestricted access to the crash site. We call for a thorough investigation to be carried out. We call for explanations. And we call for the criminals to face punishment.
My condolences to the families of the victims. You are not alone. All of us Malaysians mourn together with you. And Malaysia will rise up again, together with you.> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
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