KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — Putrajaya will not set up a special parliamentary committee or a panel to conduct a royal inquiry into a missing Malaysian jet before the “black boxes” are found, minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said today.
Shahidan stressed that the federal government’s top priority now was to find the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders, key pieces that could unravel the puzzle over the plane’s fate.
“At this moment, after the black box is found, we will set up a RCI (Royal Commission of Inquiry) or a parliamentary select committee,” the minister in the prime minister’s department told Parliament in his winding-up speech on the Yang-Dipertuan Agong’s speech.
He said that while the government currently agreed in principle on the need for a formal inquiry process, the decision will only be made after discovery of the “black boxes” of the plane that was assumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.
Shahidan, who is also the Arau MP, also noted that open discussions over MH370 had resulted in foreign media agencies criticising Malaysia.
But Anthony Loke, the DAP MP for Seremban, insisted on having a PSC now, noting that the black boxes from Air France flight AF447 were only recovered nearly two years after the plane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in May 2009.
“I think to rebut attacks or criticism from international media, the parliamentary committee or RCI should be formed immediately to answer those questions.
“That’s why the government cannot wait until the black boxes are found. If the black boxes are not found, would the government then not set up any commission or committees to investigate this?” Loke said.
As MPs from both sides of the political divide jumped in and debated the MH370 issue, Shahidan reiterated the government’s stand to only consider forming a RCI or PSC after the black boxes are found.
On March 25, Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said he was not in a position to decide whether a PSC or RCI should be formed to look into the disappearance of flight MH370.
The MH370 has been missing since March 8 and a 20-day multinational search for the plane and the 239 people it carried is still going on.