Recently, Huffington Post UK posted an article claiming MH370 pilot Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah caused the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 when he committed suicide.
MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left KLIA at 12:41am on 8th March. It disappeared from radar screens about an hour later, while over the South China Sea. The flight was to have arrived in Beijing at 6:30am on the same day. Zaharie, 53, had been a staple in media speculation after evidence emerged that suggested MH370 was deliberately diverted off course shortly before vanishing.
Its flight path was believed to have ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
The 16th September article quoted a Birmingham Mail report citing claims made by Kiwi Airlines founder and New Zealand air accident investigator Ewan Wilson. Wilson had claimed that it was likely Zaharie was mentally ill, and that he had killed everyone on the flight when he committed suicide on 8th March.
He had authored a book on MH370 titled “Good Night Malaysian 370: The Truth Behind The Loss Of Flight 370”, alleging there had been 5 previous incidents of “murder/suicide” in the aviation industry over the last 30 years:
- Mozambican Flight TM 470 from Mozambique to Luanda in 2013
- Egyptian Air Flight 990 from New York to Cairo in 1999
- SilkAir Flight 185 from Indonesia to Singapore in 1997
- A Royal Air Maroc flight bound for Casablanca in 1994 and
- A Japanese domestic flight 350 in 1982
Wilson claimed in his book that Capt Zaharie killed passengers by cutting off the oxygen supply in the plane before deliberately ditching the Boeing 777 in the Indian Ocean.
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman has slammed the above article, saying that he was surprised and disappointed that a news portal like Huffington Post UK had deemed fit to publish unproven claims. He added that Wilson’s theory regarding Zaharie’s mental state was baseless and would only create more anxiety and trauma for the family and friends of the deceased.
“No thought or consideration is given to the victims’ loved ones as they await news of the missing plane and the circumstances under which it came to grief,” said Anifah.
The Huffington Post UK article and Ewan Wilson’s baseless claims was also met with comments by angry netizens (both Malaysians and non Malaysians), with some going as far as to say, “What a bunch of BS this guy is making up stories!”, “Just another sleaze bag trying to move his book”, and “I’m smelling BS in the air. who is this guy reporting this and why the heck is his OPINION so valid”, amongst others:
On another note, this is not the first time an international outlet or a non Malaysian has spun conspiracy theories or written assumptions about the incidents in which have affected Malaysia and her countrymen deeply.
On 9th September, Janis Powers (author, blogger, and traveler) wrote a thought-provoking Huffington Post US blog entry based on a day trip to Kuala Lumpur titled, “How the Malaysians Used a Skyscraper to Fool the World”. No doubt, it painted Malaysia in a less than appealing light and dull in comparison to its “good marketing”. For some reason, there were mentions of the MH370 and MH17 tragedies:
No doubt Malaysia has recently experienced significant economic growth. When the Petronas Towers were built, Malaysia had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $100 billion. Today, its GDP is over $310 billion. It has the third largest economy in Southeast Asia. Further, KL has established itself as a multicultural, world-class urban center, a “definite place to visit for world travelers.” Its luxury offerings are the talk of travel bloggers, always on the lookout for the next best thing.
Yet the Malaysian Airline disasters of this past year have many in the global community wondering about the legitimacy of this up-and-coming nation. It has been over six months since Flight 370 went missing several hours after its take-off from KL. There is still no explanation for why the flight disappeared, and no wreckage has been found. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over the Ukraine in July. While evidence is mounting as to the cause of the disaster – an alleged surface-to-air missile fired by a pro-Russian separatist group – just why the plane was in harm’s way in the first place is a question that has yet to be satisfactorily answered.
This is despite Eurocontrol’s statement that the route in which MH17 was using when it was shot down was not a “no fly zone”. According to Eurocontrol, the aircraft was flying at Flight Level 330 (approximately 10,000 metres/33,000 feet) when it disappeared from the radar and that the route had been closed by the Ukrainian authorities from ground to flight level 320 but was open at the level at which the aircraft was flying.
As previously reported, a Singapore Airlines Flight SQ351 was within 15 miles (25km) of the ill-fated MH17 when it disappeared and crashed. Further reinforcing Eurocontrol’s confirmation that MH17 was not intentionally flying in the crosshair of the Russian-Ukraine dispute/war zone.
Since the incident, Ukrainian authorities announced the closure of routes from the ground to unlimited in Eastern Ukraine (Dnipropetrovsk Flight Information Region). The routes will remain closed until further notice. That having said, the authorities still came under scrutiny following MH17’s crash for setting the height of their no-fly zone over conflict-torn eastern Ukraine to 32,000 feet in the first place when many ground-to-air missiles can easily surpass 40,000 feet.
Janis Powers‘ article, which briefly skimmed past the MH370 and MH17 tragedies, as well as her belief that “the Petronas Towers are part of a well-executed scheme to convince the world that the country of Malaysia, as embodied by its capital, KL, is as modern and advanced as the towers themselves” was also met by angry netizens – again, both Malaysians and non Malaysians.
The commenters took the liberty to slam both the author and the article by saying a variety of things ranging from, “Oh well, she’s American. What do you expect? See? I can pass my judgment too” and “Which University you graduated Janis? Your poor written article reflected how were you being educated”, amongst others:
It’s general consensus that when a case is deemed to be still under investigation, making false claims should be avoided, especially by people who are in no way directly involved with the matter at hand. After all, didn’t they always say, “innocent until proven guilty”? Which basically means that even the judge and jury are not to draw any negative inferences and that any decisions on the case should be made solely on evidence that is presented.