Ex-MAS chief urges China to tone down approach over MH370

Former Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid (seen in this file photo, seated right) said China should reconsider and tone down its aggressive approach over MH370. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Former Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid (seen in this file photo, seated right) said China should reconsider and tone down its aggressive approach over MH370. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — China should reconsider and tone down its aggressive approach over the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, the airline’s former chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid

Munir, noted that Malaysia and China have always had a cordial relationship since diplomatic ties were formalised 40 years ago, but warned that the Asian superpower’s approach could harm it.

Following the mysterious disappearance of the flight with 153 Chinese nationals on board, China had made demands of the Malaysian government and expressed their dissatisfaction and anger, Munir said.

“This is not the right type of diplomatic model, this type of more extreme method will harm the good relations between Malaysia and China,” he was quoted saying by Sin Chew after attending the London School of Economics (LSE) Asia Forum here.

“If China wants to choose to continue maintaining this friendly diplomatic relationship, then it has to be close with Malaysia, cut down on extreme methods, cut down on trumpeting to the public,” he said.

He added that China would not want to be treated in such a manner if it was in Malaysia’s shoes.

On Wednesday, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that high-ranking officials from Malaysia are increasingly frustrated with China’s pressure for answers over the MH370.

With China’s government allowing families of the MH370’s Chinese passengers to stage protests against Malaysia, Malaysian officials feel that it could be a “cynical ploy” to divert attention and anger away from China’s own limitations in searching for the plane.

Munir also noted that China’s government was facing pressure and was criticised online, but said diplomatic policies should be based on maintaining good ties.

After a series of briefings to Chinese families by high-level Malaysian officials in the past few days, China’s envoy to Malaysia Huang Huikang on Wednesday said the MH370 incident is a “big disaster” and Malaysia should not be left to shoulder all the responsibilities alone, adding that he personally felt Putrajaya had “put in its greatest efforts”.

“The Chinese government never said that we were angry with the Malaysian government. In fact...I am satisfied and happy over details of operating procedures provided,” Huang was quoted saying on Wednesday by The Star.

After days of scathing attacks by China’s media, the tone appears to have changed, with China Daily recently calling for a “rational” response towards Malaysia instead.

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