Since the mysterious disappearance of MH370, many people have become aviation and crisis management ‘experts’ overnight, judging from the freewheeling comments on social media, especially on Facebook.
IT has been two weeks since the mysterious disappearance of MH370 and there is still no real clue although there is plenty of speculation. There are many theories being bandied about but no one has the answers.
But many people – Malaysians and other nationalities too, as well as members of the press – have become aviation and crisis management “experts” overnight, judging from the freewheeling comments on social media, especially on Facebook.
Here’s my roll call for the top 10 confusing stories that have emerged out of MH370.
Confusion No.1: The prize has to go to PAS politician Mahfuz Omar who declared that his fellow Pakatan Rakyat mates were ready to replace all 239 passengers and crew members on board as hostages if the plane was indeed hijacked. He really must have a great sense of humour.
At a glance, you would have thought he is terribly heroic but he quickly qualified himself by saying, in a rather outrageous way, that “if the plane was hijacked, there would have been negotiations by now”.
In simple language, he does not think the plane was hijacked. But if it wasn’t, then why was he talking about a hostage swap? Duh! Hello! Why do you even bother to make the declaration in the first place except to get some cheap publicity? We will be glad to send you some business tickets so you can be nearer to those in the cockpit.
And his Pakatan Rakyat mates have cleverly chosen to remain silent, obviously thinking to themselves that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to pack him off, alone, to save everyone the embarrassment.
Confusion No.2: The blonde French reporter who asked Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein to confirm that he is a cousin of the Prime Minister must have thought that she had cornered, trapped and exposed the Acting Transport Minister into having to admit the biggest scandal of all time! That the PM and Hishammuddin are close relatives! What a scoop!
We really do not know what she was thinking, if she was thinking in the first place, and really, what was in her head? But let’s forgive her. It must be jetlag from the long hours of flying. She may have missed her croissants but we can assure her that croissants are available in Malaysia. Delifrance, by the way, isn’t owned by Malaysians but by Singaporeans, so don’t blame us, again, if you find them not French enough.
Confusion No.3: The Daily Mail, known for its sensational journalism, claimed that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah is a fanatical supporter of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, implying that he had hijacked the plane for political reasons.
Now that’s really low. It’s a joke, but it’s not funny. Zaharie may have his political beliefs, which he is entitled to in a democracy, but that doesn’t make him a politicalkamikaze pilot. What if another person, well trained in aviation, had taken control of the cockpit? Has that thought ever occurred to The Daily Mail?
The Daily Mail report was enough to trigger an attack against the Malaysian Government for purportedly politicising the MH370 story! The Malaysian press was walloped for pointing out what The Daily Mail had done. Anwar appeared on CNN to join in the verbal riot – without pointing out that it started with this silly tabloid.
The reality is that from day one, the government, media and those who visited Zaharie’s open FB account had read and seen pictures of his involvement in PKR. It was never brought out because his political leanings are of no consequence, and we have to be respectful to a man in such a situation.
But I guess the critics are the same people who enjoy pouncing on the government for everything, including the continuing slide of Manchester United.
Ya lah, ini semua hal gomen, MU kalah lagi. Ini pasai PM sokong MU. Macam mana ni? Kalah lagi.
Confusion No.4: Malaysia is by now the most well-known country in the world. There is no way that Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin can go to their offices each morning without giving a thought to Malaysia. That’s a real morbid thought, unfortunately.
But some section of the international media, probably some researchers back at their base stations, are still struggling to figure out where Malaysia is.
CNN put Kuala Lumpur as a city in Indonesia on one occasion, and another TV station placed KL and the whole of the peninsula in Sabah and Sarawak. One TV station confused Melaka with Mecca, as its commentators lectured Malaysians for their incompetence.
Confusion No.5: The bomoh aka Raja Bomoh Sedunia Nujum VIP continues to be confused. By now he is known as a shaman, a medicine man, a rain maker or a snake oil salesman, and maybe a crocodile meat (and other parts) seller, too, after he threatened to slap Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (KJ) “like a crocodile” for condemning his magic carpet ritual at KLIA.
Besides making Malaysia an international laughing stock, this bomoh has single-handedly created the biggest side show in modern aviation history and taken medical tourism to a new level.
He also made history in a single day by making “bomoh” one of the most Googled words. Malaysia Boleh, Raja Bomoh!
As a follow-up, a news portal reported that the urban dictionary defines a crocodile slap or “alligator slap” as “the act of slapping someone in the face with one’s penis”.
Now, this one has made many of us terribly confused! Is this Raja Bomoh Sedunia looking for some dried penis from a dead crocodile – in the cynical words of KJ in his tweet, kokedai – as part of the slapping ritual? KJ, as a politician, may be used to seeing crocodile tears being shed around him but he should not take this “crocodile slap” threat lightly. Just a penny for a thought.
Confusion No.6: Celebrity chef Datuk Redzuawan Ismail or Chef Wan would have realised by now that it is a tough act to come up with a good sequel. His earlier tweet that MAS had served “a very naked” nasi lemak with just a half-boiled egg andsambal (chilly paste) without the standard anchovies and peanuts generated much attention. But this time, he has been caught with his pants down.
A picture of himself, on his Instagram account, holding a door-like object which he linked to the search operation that is now focused on the southern Indian Ocean, has gone down badly with the public.
He had written: “2 objek di Perth dan satu ni I ingat kan ya ia sebahagian dari pintu kapal terbang MAS (two objects in Perth and this one I thought was part of the door of the MAS aircraft.
“Tapi setelah diteliti rupanya ianya sebahagian dari Pintu Jamban Rumah Cik Kiah di pantai Morib yang telah using rupanya. Adoi frustnya.
(But after inspection, it was actually part of Cik Kiah’s rundown toilet door at Morib beach. It’s really frustrating.)”
Chef Wan must have felt the heat and smoke from the kitchen. He must have smelt it – the burning smell – and even if he had been caught naked, he quickly put out the fire – he deleted his posting! Well, the lesson to learn is to be careful of what you are cooking.
Confusion No.7: It was a good read, that’s about it – pilgrim Raja Dalelah Raja Latife claiming she spotted a wreckage on the same day MH370 went missing. As the news report stated, pilots rubbished her claim.
But this determined lady lodged a police report and pointed out that she had just returned from the holy land, and that no one can accuse her of lying.
No one is accusing her of anything but many are doubtful. Thank you for the tip-off as all information is important. And thank you for taking the trouble to lodge a police report and alerting the media. You are a fine citizen for sure.
But unless one has bionic eyes or, in the case of the bomoh, uses bamboo binoculars with special Malaysian powers enhanced by Tongkat Ali and Power Roots, it is hard to look down and spot things from a 35,000ft altitude.
Poor lady, she must have been tired, like the French reporter, from all the travelling. She probably misses her nasi lemak, just as the French reporter misses her croissant.
Confusion No.8: By now, everyone is aware that Malaysian leaders are getting most of the rap for failing to come up with solid information. The confusion, in the initial stage, and how the whole thing has been managed have, of course, made us look bad.
But it is terribly unfair to accuse us of holding back, even hiding, information when there is nothing to offer in the first place. We have seen how horrendous it can be to share bits of information that turn out to be nothing.
The Chinese have found that out and now Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has, too. He called up the Malaysian and Chinese leaders to share the information that satellites had picked up images of two huge objects floating in the sea.
He excitedly told his Parliament, and the world thought this was the “most credible lead” so far, but it doesn’t look like “this is it” any more.
The poor guy has now seen himself going literally down under after the initial spotlight. Despite his many cautionary remarks that the images had not been verified, that has not stopped the barrage of criticisms from being hurled at him.
We believe, from satellite images picked up, that Abbott is now watching on YouTube clips of containers on vessels flying off in rough seas.
Confusion No.9: I know that many Malaysians believe in dreams. Sometimes they get confused, thinking that some Supreme Being is sending Whatsapp messages to their heads while they are sleeping.
So many of us in the media, including this writer, have been receiving messages, SMS, emails and phone calls from people who claim they have the exact GPS coordinates to locate the missing plane.
One said it is somewhere in Madagascar and another said it’s on top of Mount Everest.
One warned that if we did not deliver the images which had been transmitted to her head, she would report our incompetence to the PM and his cousin, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
Call from aunty-sounding reader: “You don’t try to be funny, I can see you are laughing (note: I am actually covering my mouth but yes, she is right. I am laughing, in a technical sense, so maybe she can see things!) but I had a dream last night, the plane was flying over a mountain top, maybe it’s Mount Everest and maybe it’s in Kilimanjaro in Africa. I am not sure. But tell the leaders, quick!
“I could see the passengers and crew members in my dream. The images came to me like a radar or whatever you call it. “
Another sent me a YouTube posting of a religious leader predicting a Malaysian plane would go missing and said I should bring it up to the authorities too.
Thank you for sharing but we haven’t had time to check when he made the prediction.
I like Malaysians for their dreams. Who can blame us, the confused Malaysians, as our dreams do come true sometimes. Dreams have helped us to make up numbers for our Empat Ekor bets, and we actually strike and make money! Only in Malaysialah, dreams do come true!
Confusion No.10: The media, again. By now, everyone is really exhausted. Not just tired, but flat out. Some foreign reporters are working during the early hours of 3am or 4am, according to their time zones.
Local reporters are too tired to sleep, sending out text messages to each other in the dead of the night, only to be up again at 6am to be on their job.
Last week, two foreign photographers snapped at each other. Editors and reporters are struggling to file stories with new angles in the absence of solid information.
Their families and loved ones are getting upset but that is nothing compared with the suffering and mental torture of the families of the missing passengers and crew members.
In the case of the media, it looks like we have come to a stage where “today’s news is there is no news”, as one foreign newscaster covering the crisis from KL said on air.
It is a horrible situation in many ways. The lack of credible leads and information has sparked off anger but as long as the plane is not found, it means there is hope.
It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride but we must pray for MH370, no matter what.
The views expressed are entirely the WONG CHUN WAI own. The STAR Home Opinion Columnist On the Beat March 23, 2014