Authorities can easily prove you wrong, ex-defence minister tells US writer after attack over MH370 probe

Women look at a mural of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 two years after it disappeared, in Kuala Lumpur, March 8, 2016. ― Reuters pic
Women look at a mural of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 two years after it disappeared, in Kuala Lumpur, March 8, 2016. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Former defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has taken US writer and former pilot William Langewiesche to task for resurrecting an old and unproven theory that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah hijacked flight MH370.

Hishammuddin, who was picked as the government spokesman in the aftermath of one of the aviation industry's biggest mysteries, also called on the masses to not pay heed to Langewiesche's claims, which he labelled as a mere attempt at capitalising on the issue, adding that the authorities can easily debunk the former's allegations.

“Old news by someone who wants to capitalise on it . We should not give mileage to him .

“Not sure what his motives are, but the authorities can easily prove him wrong. You should contact them,” Hishammuddin told Malay Mail when contacted.

In a very long article for US magazine The Atlantic’s July issue that was published online on Monday, Langewiesche — who has been described as among the most authoritative and respected aviation writers — also took aim at Malaysian officials past and present for the continued mystery surrounding the Malaysian Airlines flight.

In his article titled “What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane”,  Langewiesche alleged that the Malaysian authorities’ ineptitude continues to the present day under the Pakatan Harapan administration, even accusing Transport Minister Anthony Loke of now culpability in why the plane has not been found and flubbing protocol during an event related to MH370 last year, without going into the details.

“The Malaysians just wish the whole subject would go away. I attended an event in the administrative city of Putrajaya last fall, where Grace Nathan and Gibson stood in front of the cameras with the transport minister, Anthony Loke.

“The minister formally accepted five new pieces of debris collected over the summer. He was miserable to the point of being angry. He barely spoke, and took no questions from the press,” he said, referring to a victim’s kin and his fellow US citizen Blaine Gibson.

In contrast, Langewiesche painted the authorities from other countries who participated in the global search in a far kinder and less accusatory light.

Possibly the most startling aspect of Langewiesche’s diatribe against the Malaysian handling of the MH370 mystery was his insistence that pilot Zaharie executed a deliberate and methodical hijack of the plane for his own personal reasons.

The American writer who included selected snippets of his interviews with several people connected to the MH370 incident, posited that the Malaysian authorities failed to act on alleged red flags thrown up in their profiling of Zaharie to probe deeper into the pilot’s psychological and emotional state leading up to the fateful flight on March 8, 2014.

The writer also revisited the conspiracy borne from police discovery of a Microsoft flight simulator in Zaharie’s home and which he suggested deserved another look, quoting an engineer and a member of one of the independent investigative groups into MH370 that formed after official investigators were suspended.

Langewiesche’s article though likely of interest to the amateur sleuths takes over familiar ground but does not throw up any new information, which was noted by another writer Clive Irving of US news and opinion website on popular culture, Daily Beast.

In his Daily Beast article published yesterday, Irving pointed out the “unfortunate tone of condescension” in Langewiesche’s musings on Zaharie’s mental state leading up the disappearance of the plane, as well as his fellow US peer’s flair for dramatics over true descriptions, especially in the latter’s retelling of the end by describing how the Boeing 777 disintegrated into confetti when it hit the water”.

Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared on March 8, 2014 with all 239 people on board.

Underwater searches for the plane in the Indian Ocean have covered 120,000 sq km and cost about A$200 million was subsequently suspended indefinitely in January 2017 until Malaysia accepted a “no-cure, no-fee” offer from US exploration firm Ocean Infinity last year.

The three-month search covered 112,000 sq km north of the original target area, without any new discovery when it was called off in May 2018.

An official 495-page report in July last year stated that MH370 was deliberately taken off course by a person or persons unknown.

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