MH17

  
It stares at you. It is dead, has been so for the past 15 months, victim of a struggle it never was a part of. Yet you cannot avoid the stare and today we know why.

A couple of hours after the MH17 went down, I was asked to appear on a TV channel to try and make sense of what was happening. I finally left the studio at 6.30am saying that a BUK system had downed the aircraft.

We know now that it’s true. The 9M-MRD was downed by a proximity-fused BUK. Conspiracy theorists were quick to jump the gun saying a Su-25 Frogfoot did it using its cannons while others posted a video of a plane going down somewhere in India and passed that off as the MH17.

There were no bombs on board, no were there bullet holes on any part of the fuselage. In fact Malaysia Airlines too cannot be faulted for flying in that area because 61 carriers flew there, with 160 aircraft flying there on that fateful day itself until the airspace was declared off-limits.

When the announcement was made by the Dutch Safety Board, everyone thought it would be the day we would know who the perpetrators are. When no such detail was given, families were left disappointed. Some journalists and even a cabinet minister asked on social media why have the perpetrators been allowed to go scot-free?

This is the Dutch Safety Board. It operates in accordance with Annex 13 of the ICAO guidelines as follows:

  
The investigation team was only to find out hownthe plane was brought down and if there were weaknesses in the system that could have prevented the incident from happening – and learn lessons to prevent recurrence. To find the perpetrators is the job of another investigation team that looks at the criminal aspects of the MH17 incident.

We all want to know who made 9M-MRD stare at us like in the photo above. But that is not for us to know tonight. That will come at a time I hope that is not too far in the future.

I am glad that the cockpit crew did not know what happened to them. It was swift. It was in the microseconds. I am not too happy that some had a minute or slightly more to digest what was happening. I don’t even want to imagine those last moments.

And we wouldn’t have known anything much had we not been able to retrieve the black boxes as well as most of the bodies of the victims if not for these two men who worked in an unorthodox manner to secure them.

While everyone else was figuring on how to get to Donetsk, these mostly-forgotten two paved the way for our team to get there.

  

Remembering MH17

When you spend your Hari Raya, don’t forget that a year ago tomorrow 298 souls including 43 of our brethren were on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam bound for KL. The 43 also included fathers, mothers, sister, brothers, grandmothers, sons, daughters, grandchildren who were looking forward to spending Aidil Fitri with their loved ones.

Alas, God loves them more. They never made it home alive. The flight was brought down, as I have  maintained from the fateful day itself, by a BUK surface-to-air missile.

Many a days were spent on trying to bring them back home and to retrieve the Black Boxes through normal channels but none of the channels worked. Not even the powerful western powers nor members of NATO could do anything while the 298 lie on the hard ground near Donetsk, Ukraine.

Lest we forget the man who spent sleepless nights trying to secure the bodies of the 298 as well as the Black Boxes using unorthodox methods:

 

 YAB PM Najib Razak :-
16 July 2015 
“It was a year ago, on 17 July 2014, that MH17 was shot down over Ukraine. We will never forget the 298 lives that were lost that day, including 43 of our fellow citizens. They were fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters… Some were students travelling abroad to continue their education. Others were returning after a holiday spent with their families. All were innocent. All were taken from us far too early.
It is hard to capture words to describe the shock and disbelief I felt on being told that there had been another Malaysian airplane tragedy, coming so soon after MH370 – which we were still in the process of mourning. Any sentiments I felt on a personal level had to be placed to the side, as we sought to comfort the families of those on board.

At that time, our foremost priority was ensuring the swift return of the bodies of those onboard to their families. It was crucial that this be done in a dignified manner that allowed the families to grieve properly.
The situation was complicated by the fact that the plane had been shot down over territory that was in the throes of a civil war, and controlled by non-government forces. Engaging with them was necessary in order to ensure the swift return of the bodies.

In those early days, we encountered criticism from various quarters, with segments of the foreign media calling on us to follow standard modus operandi. However, extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures, and we ignored those disruptive noises – standing our ground and doing it our way.

We cast aside standard protocol and, within days, had sent representatives from the National Security Council to meet the rebels and negotiate for a safe passage, ensure the return of the passengers’ remains, as well as access to the wreckage and flight recorders that would help us get to the truth of what happened on that fateful day.

Ultimately, Malaysia’s strong stance and decisive but consultative and unorthodox approach got the job done.

A year on, the battle for truth and justice is far from over, and we continue to provide our full cooperation to – and work closely with – the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into this tragedy. They now have a clearer picture regarding the possible cause of the tragedy, and are expected to continue their investigation into all possible scenarios until the end of 2015.
The end goal is clear – to bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure they pay for this unforgivable crime, which claimed hundreds of innocent lives.

By early October this year, Insya-Allah, the report by the Dutch Safety Board will be published. At the same time, we will continue to push for the establishment of a full, thorough and independent international tribunal into the incident – for the sake of the families and friends of those who perished in the tragedy.
The victims of MH17 were casualties of a conflict that was not theirs.
To their loved ones – There are no words I can offer to ease your pain, but know that your pain and sorrow are shared amongst all of us. Malaysia wept for your loss, which was our loss too, and we will never let those who died be forgotten. Take comfort in knowing that MH17 brought the country together in an act of unity that would make anyone proud to call themselves Malaysians. May that unity be the legacy of those we lost.
I remember vividly the shock and anger I felt upon receiving that phone call, and the experience of leading our country through the tragedies of MH370 and MH17, in the space of mere months, are still fresh in my mind. I hope that neither our nation, nor any other nation, has to endure such tragedies again.

Above all, I pray for the families of those who perished to stay strong in these trying times. Remember that all of Malaysia stands in unity beside you, and we will continue to stand beside you – for as long as it takes – as we work tirelessly in search of truth and justice for your loved ones
Al-Fatihah”

Selamat Hari Raya to all my blog readers and Al-Fatihah for those who were on board the MH17.

In A Way, It Is A Great Aidil Fitri

One after another tragedy befell us. 2014 struck us as annus horribilis. Our faith in the capability of this nation was tested again and again, and at times for many it seemed as if we are the laughing stock of the world.

One man surprised me: Najib Razak. I for one did not think that he would be able to keep his head above the turbid waters created by the MH17 incident where world powers and their allies were already showing fists to each other, while Malaysia looked helpless in the middle. Out of nowhere, Najib appeared on television screens almost worldwide, announcing that Malaysia had secured the two black boxes, the bodies retrieved, and unlimited access to the crash sites. And it seemed for a long second, everyone in the world paused and wondered how could this nothing nation secure such a deal?

I have always maintained that if the parties involved in the conflict are eager to prove their innocence, they should cooperate. That was exactly what Alexander Borodai did. Malaysia did not care for the conflict. All Malaysia want is to be able to send back fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, sons and daughters back to their loved ones; therefore it was important for Malaysia to speak to who seems to be in-charge of the area and situation, not necessarily recognising who is who in Eastern Ukraine.

A simple but decisive stroke of diplomacy by the least expected nation’s Prime Minister has brought about all but a final closure to the MH17 episode. Najib Razak, in my eyes, has proven himself a worthy leader, a diplomat to be respected. As for MH370, search will recommence next month earliest, and we hope to have good news from that as well although it may seem all but futile.

At least, in the case of MH17, Malaysians can have a great albeit sombre Aidil Fitri. At least we know they will be coming back. And we pray the same for those on board the MH370.

Dato’ Seri Najib, I thank you and seek your forgiveness for not having faith in your handling of the MH17 tragedy. Not only have you proven that I was wrong about you, you went on to prove you are far better than the leaders of the developed nations.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

The Knee Is The Limit

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Every time a crisis hits Malaysia, the knee seems to be the limit of many, not just in Malaysia, but also around the world. Therefore, in just four months, we see more brain-in-the-knee experts rear their empty ugly skull. While in the MH370 tragedy, I personally knew one person on board, I know two people who have lost family members on board the MH17 – one lost five family members, the other lost six. As usual, many keyboard experts would put the blame on the pilot who strayed from the intended flight path because he was fasting; on Malaysia Airlines for allowing MH17 to fly into a “Red Zone” when other airlines skirted the area; and some even concluded that the aircraft, registration 9M-MRD, broke apart in mid-air because of poor maintenance. Before I begin, let me congratulate DAP Member of Parliament, Nga Kor Ming, for having made it to the “Idiots of the Year” list, two years in a row for posting this:

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Let us go through the items one-by-one:

Was MH17 Flying Through A No-Fly Zone?

No.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has confirmed that that particular airway (much like our highways on ground) was a safe route. In fact, when during a PC by the Malaysian Transport Minister it was mentioned that Malaysia Airlines no longer flies that airway because the airway has now been closed, the ICAO refuted this saying the airway is still open. However, the agency that is diverting flights away from East Ukraine is Eurocontrol, the airspace management agency for Europe. Prior to the incident, the Ukrainian agency for airspace management cleared any flight to fly above 32,000 feet. When MH17 was shot down, she was flying at a supposedly safe altitude of 33,000 feet.

There was a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued but does not cover the area the MH17 was flying through.

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Therefore, the area was never a “No-Fly Zone.”

MAS Pilots Are Irresponsible As They Fly According To Their Whims And Fancies

Pilots do not fly according to their whims and fancies and like the roads you drive on, similarly there are airways above where the police watches you on every road and passes you to another policeman to watch you when you leave one road to enter another. The police would even tell you at what speeds are you allowed to fly and at what height. Every flight would require an approved flight plan. This flight plan is then submitted by the airline’s flight operations department or equivalent to the airspace management organisation which in the case of Amsterdam, falls under Eurocontrol which will then coordinate with the various Flight Information Regions to seek approval from them for MH17 to fly through. Once approved, the pilots would study the approved flight plan, concur with it, punch it into their flight management system and fly according to the plan save for some minor variations due to traffic or weather.

This is hardly the kiasu driving you undertake when you drive your girlfriend inside your mom’s car.

MAS Is Irresponsible For Allowing MH17 To Fly Into A No-Fly Zone/Zone of Conflict

Firstly, it was not a No-Fly Zone as explained above. Secondly, that has always been the route taken by most airlines going to northwestern Europe from most of Asia and vice versa. The only thing that has changed is the conflict that is taking place in the Donetsk region.

Yes, Ukrainian MILITARY aircraft have been shot down there prior to the downing of the MH17. I placed emphasis on the word MILITARY. All were shot down using the IGLA MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defence System) – in short, a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile. This system can reach an altitude of 6,000 meters (19,700 feet). So, aircraft flying at 6,100 meters (20,000 feet) and above are generally safe. The Ukrainian authorities even added another 12,000 feet safety buffer by creating a minimum altitude of 32,000 feet. The MH17 was flying at 33,000 feet.

MAS Is Irresponsible For Not Redirecting Flights Away From Ukraine Like Other Airlines Have Including Singapore Airlines and QANTAS

Oh, really?

Where was the danger?

Let me show you the airlines that flew over Ukraine over the week preceding the downing of the MH17:

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See if Singapore Airlines is not in the list. In fact, a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 was just 25km away from the MH17. They were lucky, we were not:

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So, why are some Asian airlines not in the list?

This is how you view the Earth:

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Unfortunately, this is how Earth looks like (without the stand):

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Routes are derived from the shortest path calculated using the Great Circle Line. This is Navigation 101 for Idiots. Which is why some northeastern Asian flights miss Ukraine totally to get to northwestern Europe, unlike those from Southeast Asia INCLUDING SINGAPORE AIRLINES.

Oh, what about QANTAS coming from down under?

Oh, yes. QANTAS mentioned that it has avoided Ukrainian airspace for months. In fact, since April 2013! This is because QANTAS, according to the Sydney Morning Herald in January 2013, has stopped flying the Great Kangaroo Route. This means that QANTAS Flight QF1 no longer flies to London Heathrow. Instead, QANTAS flies its passengers wanting to go to Europe through its code-sharing partners in Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Dubai etc through the Star Alliance and One World Alliance that MAS is a member of.

No biggie there as to why QANTAS is so safe now, is there?

The Russian Separatists Shot MH17 Down, Even The US Says So

Really?

No one knows right now who shot the flight down and using what weapon system. The biggest suspect now is the BUK M-1 medium-range surface-to-air system that both Russia and Ukraine have. It is not a system that you can just plug-and-play upon purchase as extensive training has to be given in order to effectively use this system. That pretty much rules out the Separatists. That leaves us with Ukraine and Russia.

Russia, already pressured by the West for Simferopol, Crimea and Donetsk, and its opposition to the Ukraine wanting a NATO membership, has a lot to lose by allowing the shooting down of the MH17. In 2012, while global arms sales by the top 10 defence companies shrunk by 4.3 percent, Russia’s increased by a whopping 28 percent. With Malaysia seeking for multi-role combat aircraft to replace the MiG-29N, Russia has a lot to lose.

Ukraine meanwhile has a lot to gain from this if you look at this from another angle. It would receive the recognition it would want from the world in its fight against the Donetsk separatists, and get all the international backing to apply pressure against the Russians.

So, what about the US of A being sure that all evidences that have yet to be obtained point to Russia?

Remember the Iraqi WMDs?

I leave that to your imagination, as long as your brain is not where the top X-Ray image shows it to be.

Meanwhile, stop bashing Malaysia Airlines and grow up!