SUBANG JAYA, Jan 30 — The families of the crew and passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 demanded tonight the federal government rescind its public declaration that all 239 people on board the missing plane have died in an accident.
Frustrated that the families were not first consulted before the announcement was made by the Department of Civil Aviation’s yesterday, they demanded any declaration be withheld until the search is officially concluded.
“It would be a better idea for them to withdraw the declaration given that the search has not been concluded,” said Grace Subathirai, the daughter of Anne Daisy, one of the passengers.
Some 10 representatives of families of the crew and passengers on the ill-fated flight present at a late-night news conference here said the DCA’s announcement yesterday was a shock.
“It hasn’t been a year, the search isn’t complete... I and every other person, who had friend or family member or loved on board... will hold on to hope because it is not humanly possible to accept that the people you love the most in this world are gone without a shred of proof,” said Grace.
“We don’t want their condolences. We want evidence… we expected the government to care just a little bit more,” she said, holding back tears.
The husband of MH370 flight attendant Christine Fong, who only wanted to be know as Lee, reminded the Malaysian government that it had promised to keep the search in the southern Indian Ocean going until the jetliner is located.
“They made the announcement just so that MAS can claim its insurance. That’s not fair to us, we need evidence,” said Lee, alluding to the ongoing privatisation of the cash-strapped national carrier.
American Sarah Bajc, the partner of passenger Phillip Wood, also chided the government for making a premature announcement on the fate of the Beijing-bound airplane, insisting there was still no evidence the red-eye flight that departed the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8 last year had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
The families also refused to accept that the declaration was made to speed up the compensation process.
Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of in-flight supervisor Patrick Gonzales, said the announcement may be legally expedient but gave no closure to the families emotionally.
“Closure, legally maybe. But what about our feelings, to close that way?” she asked.
The government has said it is committed to continuing the search for MH370.
DCA’s flight operations assistant director Captain Mior Nor Badrishah Mohamad expressed confidence earlier today that the current search area for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean is the right place.
He told reporters at a technical briefing that searchers have covered so far one-third of the 60,000 sq km search area off Perth, Australia, and that they expect to complete the underwater search area by May.
But retired Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who led Australia’s response to MH370 and downed flight MH17 in Ukraine, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday that it was possible that the missing plane might never be found in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean.