Criticism mounts of 'chaotic' search for plane

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-13 0:48:03

A well-known Malaysian ëbomohí (shaman), Ibrahim Mat Zin offering to locate the missing plane using a spiritual method and prayers, arrives in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. Malaysia faced a storm of criticism over contradictions and information gaps in the hunt for a missing airliner. Photo: AFP

China urged Malaysia on Wednesday to release "authoritative and detailed" information about the missing Malaysian plane through a unified channel in a timely manner, amid criticism of Malaysia for their confused reaction.

Expressing appreciation for Malaysia's sincere attitude and active efforts, Guo Shaochun, leader of the Chinese government joint work team, urged Malaysia to listen seriously and respond quickly to the reasonable appeals of the missing passengers' relatives.

"China asks for a unified channel on the Malaysian side to release authoritative and detailed information on the issue in a timely manner," said Guo at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Malaysian air force Chief General Rodzali Daud Wednesday denied a local media report that quoted him as saying that the missing MH370 was last detected at 2:40 am Saturday by the air force in the vicinity of Pulau Perak in the Strait of Malacca before the signal disappeared.

Rodzali said that the radar tracking was at 2:15 am and to the northwest of Penang Island on Malaysia's west coast, adding that it was an "unidentified object."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang also said Wednesday that information about the missing plane was "chaotic."

He urged Malaysia to take primary responsibility in communication and coordination in the joint search efforts, and "give the passengers' relatives and the international community an answer as soon as possible."

The successful boarding of two Iranian citizens using stolen passports and the released photos showing them photoshopped on to the same lower body drew criticism of the Malaysian government.

"It has badly damaged its national image. Rumors could easily grow under such circumstances, as could fear. This may turn out to be a fiasco for Malaysia in handling the crisis at the present stage," Steven Dong, a professor from the Communication University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times. He added that the country's aviation management system was also flawed, with passengers reportedly allowed into the cockpit.

Uncertainty has allegedly halted Vietnam's search mission, which was then denied by Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army. The Vietnam Ministry of Transport on Wednesday also criticized the slack response of Malaysia.

Malaysia said 42 ships and 39 aircraft have been deployed so far in the search, with India, Japan and Brunei joining the multinational hunt for the missing plane.

China's third military aircraft arrived in the Gulf of Thailand on Wednesday to join its eight vessels in the black box signal probe, with more ships expected.

One of China's satellites detected objects suspected to be floating materials, Chinese authorities said.

Meanwhile, a badly damaged raft was found by local fishermen near the west coast of Malaysia and villagers on the east side of the country reported to police they heard a loud noise that sounded like the fan of a jet engine around 1:20 am on Saturday, according to local media.

Zhuang Guotu, dean of the Research School of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that it may not be fair to overly blame Malaysia, whose administration efficiency is at the intermediate level within Asia.

"We have seen its immediate response to the search for the plane after it went missing. It is understandable that people get anxious when little progress has been made, but Malaysia is a developing country with limited manpower," Zhuang noted.

Agencies contributed to this story


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