Malaysia backs MH370 crowdfund campaign, asks to share information with families

A family member of Flight MH370 crew reads a poem at a fund-raising dinner organised by NUFAM at Hotel Empire Subang, June 7, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May
A family member of Flight MH370 crew reads a poem at a fund-raising dinner organised by NUFAM at Hotel Empire Subang, June 7, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Malaysian authorities said today they welcome the crowdfund campaign launched by the families of MH370 passengers to help in the hunt for the missing jetliner, but asked that they share the outcome of their probe with investigators.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the families had likely launched the campaign to feel more “inclusive” in the ongoing hunt for the ill-fated jetliner and said any effort to help the search mission is appreciated.

“I’m touched by their efforts to start a fund and maybe it is a way for them to contribute and feel inclusive in our efforts,” he told reporters at Parliament here.

Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, pointed out that the search mission is a costly one as it involves highly sophisticated assets and expertise.

“I dont want to belittle their efforts... but the assets we are going to use now is very sophisticated and incurs a high cost.

“To deploy just one ship to conduct the bathymetric survey would cost US$11.6 million and US$500,000 per day to do the survey,” he said.

In Malaysian currency, the price would amount to RM37,046,340 and RM1,596,825.00 respectively.

Hishammuddin reiterated Malaysia’s support for the effort, however, noting that it helps the distraught families feel more included in the search mission, which is now entering its fourth month.

“This is how our relationship with the families has been since Day One, it is not perfect but when dealing families with 1,100 assumptions, consideration and emotions — it is not easy,” he said.

At a separate press conference later, Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the families had every right to help in the hunt for MH370.

“I think we leave it to them,” he said, adding later that he hopes the families will share the outcome of their campaign with investigators for further discussion.

The families of passengers from five countries — US, Australia, New Zealand, France and India — kicked off their crowdfund campaign at 8pm yesterday, with an aim of raising US$5 million (RM16.1 million) through popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo to reward private investigators, whistleblowers or any firm that could provide the information that leads to the recovery of the missing jetliner.

“This mystery is unprecedented in the history of aviation, and we need to work as a collective community with one goal of finding the truth, the plane and the passengers,” project leader Ethan Hunt said in a statement emailed to the media here.

“Utilising the immense potential of the crowd we believe we can achieve our primary goal of recovering the flight where others methods have failed in the past.

“We are convinced that somewhere, someone knows something, and we hope this reward will entice him or her to come forward,” he added.

The initiative does not include the families of passengers from China or the Malaysian flight crew, who collectively made up the bulk of the 239 people aboard the commercial flight.

The Australian-led Joint Agency Coordination Centre said on May 29 that the first phase of the search had ended with no trace of the plane.

The search will enter a new phase covering a 60,000 square kilometre area along MH370’s probable flight arc over the southern Indian Ocean, but only after a bathymetric survey map of the sea floor is completed within a three-month window.

The ongoing search for flight MH370 is considered the longest and most expensive in the world’s aviation history, with the Reuters news agency estimating costs to have hit RM141 million for the first month alone.

The Boeing 777 jet, which was carrying 239 people on board, disappeared on March 8 after the plane veered from its Beijing-bound flight path and flew in the opposite direction towards the southern Indian Ocean.

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