Hold your heads up... — Tay Tian Yan

MARCH 16 — The agonies surrounding the missing MH370 plane are inflicted upon Malaysia, our beloved country.

During an interview with CNN, US aviation expert Peter Goelz told the world, “Search for MH370 is the worst I've ever seen in disaster management.”

He said of Malaysia's officials as “poor communicators or, at worst, plain incompetent.”

Bloomberg reported, quoting Australia's Southeast Asian studies expert Clive Kessler that the Malaysian authorities were “handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics,” and that the contradiction and lack of competency “expose leadership limit.”

Ernest Bower, a Southeast Asia specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told Reuters, “The Malaysians deserve to be criticized; their handling of this has been atrocious.”

As if that is not enough, media from Greater China as well as local websites have also been hard on the Malaysian authorities.

As a Malaysian, I felt anguished reading such comments, but anguish alone is never enough, and will not help put things right. The main thing is that we need to discern, think and reflect on our own misdeeds.

To be honest, some of the allegations have not been unfounded. For instance, some of the information has arrived way too late or self-contradictory.

The military radar picked up the signals of some unidentified civilian aircraft above the Straits of Melaka but the information was revealed several days late. The confusions and contradictions over fake passports also need to be admitted.

In the meantime, some other allegations have been excessively emotional or were products of hearsay.

The appearance of bomoh at the airport had not been permitted by the authorities, but upon distortion, it became an event at the government's invitation in hope of detecting the lost plane. The news travelled across oceans and before long, magical mat, coconut, bamboo basket and crutch took on the forms of Malaysia's symbols in the search mission.

So, in the eyes of the outside world, Malaysia is such a dumb, joker state.

Some media players seem to take delight in fabricating stories, quoting police sources that suspicious Uighur terrorists found their way into the aircraft.

So, another 911 in the making, huh?

While such creations did spice up the MH370 incident, and added a few exciting after-meal gossips, the reputation of this country as well as the sacrificial efforts of SAR personnel were nevertheless bashed and downplayed.

The “experts” have slammed Malaysia to trashy levels and I'm personally still sceptical of the authority in their conclusions.

MH370 is unprecedented. There are simply too many question marks, too many complicated circumstances and technical issues pegged to it. Our modern technology may not be sophisticated enough to come up with an ultimate answer within days. Some say tracing the plane is like rummaging through a pitch dark closet for a needle.

It is always much easier said than done.

Families of the lost plane's passengers are smothered by their own anxiety while the public are eager to get their unsolved questions answered, and they all have been pressing the government and MAS for more transparent information. Unfortunately, facts are overwhelmed by rumours in this incident, and questions outnumber answers by a mile. There is little that the authorities know, and to be responsible therefore, there isn't much they can divulge.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak (centre) addresses reporters about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, as Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (left) and Department of Civil Aviation's Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (right) stand by him, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 15, 2014.  — Reuters pic
Datuk Seri Najib Razak (centre) addresses reporters about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, as Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (left) and Department of Civil Aviation's Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (right) stand by him, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 15, 2014. — Reuters pic

We have not performed that badly after all. Other Asian governments have also been slammed for their poor handling of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the Sichuan earthquake in China and the massive storms ravaging the Philippine islands, by these experts. We often see only the bad and would never make the slightest effort to discern the good things our people have done.

At least Commander William Marks of the US Navy's 7th Fleet said of his personal view of the SAR operation: “I give a lot of credit to the Malaysian government. They have a very well organized plan... and they are very efficient, very professional.”

There is no necessity for the commander of the 7th Fleet to please the Malaysian government. For his position, he should be a real expert among a bunch of experts out there. So, hold our heads up instead of feeling dejected, or we will get thrashed hard before others in the face of a disaster.

Like a boxing game, we are now only in Round One; there are no good reasons we should get knocked out so soon.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.

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