Mh370
Family members still clinging on to hope that their loved ones will return.Facebook

Two years on and family members are still searching for answers. And they are still nowhere closer to finding out where their loved ones are or what had happened to the Boeing 777 that was on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014.

Other than a flaperon that has been positively identified as being part of the plane, there have been no trace of the aircraft. Family members are getting frustrated and angry at the lack of information.

In a statement issued on 4 March, Voice370, the support group for family and friends of those on board the missing aircraft, have noted the fact that there have been no updates on the investigations from the authorities over the past year. "We wonder if the authorities hope that if they stop updating us we will eventually stop asking and this will lead to an uneventful end to any serious ongoing inquiry?" they asked.

Voice370 has launched a campaign Search On to press for search efforts to continue. They maintain that unless the plane is found and the reason behind its disappearance established, aviation is not really safe. Hitting out at authorities over what has been perceived as lack of information, they added: "The best outcome can only be achieved if there is credible and comprehensive disclosure of information by the relevant authorities."

While all want the search to continue for the plane, which carried people from 14 nations, families are divided on what they should do next. Most of the next-of-kin from China are adamant that their family members are still alive and are being held hostage somewhere.

In regular media emails, they have been pleading with the hostage-takers that they will be given amnesty if their loved ones are released. Many have refused to believe that after two years, there is little hope of finding those on board the aircraft alive despite the fact that the Malaysian government has declared that all on board are now presumed to be dead.

In fact, some family members even go to the extent of claiming that the flaperon found on Reunion Island last year, the first clue that the plane had actually went done, was in fact planted there.

But despite the international Voice370, relatives are now going their separate ways in trying to find answers. In China, some family members are still making daily trips to the Malaysia Airlines office in Beijing, seeking answers. Steven Wang, a member of the families' representative committee which was set up in 2014 conceded that relatives are now pursuing decisions "independently" rather than in consultation as a group. He said that the committee no longer functions actively.

"We all have different considerations. Of course banding together shows unity and puts pressure on MAS but relatives can choose how they want to do it. Small groups of like-minded people are now working together instead," he told the Singapore Straits Times.

Malaysian family members use WhatsApp to meet

In Malaysia, family members keep in touch via WhatsApp to try and meet as often as possible but day-to-day activities make this more and more difficult as many are now single parents coping with young children. Many have instead chosen the legal route, as the two year deadline to file lawsuits over air accidents under the Montreal Convention expires on 8 March 2016.

Other than Malaysia Airlines, family members have targeted Malaysia's civil aviation authorities and the military for losing track of the aircraft, and one relative is suing the aircraft maker Boeing. Wang, 27, whose 57-year-old mother was on the flight said: "Investigations have reached a stalemate and I'm hoping that a lawsuit can reinvigorate the process and bring more facts to light."

Another person going the legal route is father G Subramaniam, 61, whose daughter Puspanathan, 33 was on the plane. He is suing the airline and eight others. Forty-two families however have accepted the airline's compensation package.

Subathirai Nathan, the daughter of Malaysian passenger Anne Catherine Daisy, 56, notes that by accepting the airline's compensation package, they are effectively giving up the right to pursue further claims. "You would have to waive your right to sue anyone - you cannot sue MAS, you cannot sue Boeing. It was quite a huge clause, so this is more like a settlement," she warned.

But all these pertain to passengers on board the aircraft. Families of crew members have different problems to deal with, according to the paper. The Montreal Convention apparently does not cover passengers and as such, the next-of-kin have no means of suing.

"Our lawyers told us that without the plane, we don't have anything to go on," Jacquita Gonzales, 53, the wife of in-flight supervisor Patrick Gomes said. It is difficult to sue as the plane has not been found and the cause of the accident not as yet established.

Chinese next-of-kin face different problems

In China, Dai Shuqin takes two buses and nearly two hours to get to the Malaysia Airlines offices in Beijing. She has not missed a single day in visiting the office after the airline closed its family support centre last April.

Zhang Yongli, who lost his 31-year-old daughter on the flight has not given up in trying to find out what has happened to his daughter. He claims he has been handcuffed by the police and once locked up for 18 hours. "They beat me because they didn't want us to come here. Some departments have been calling us to reach a settlement with Malaysia Airlines and to accept compensation. But most of us won't do that."

Many Chinese families accuse the government of monitoring their activities, claiming that they have been hauled up for disrupting public order while othes were pressured to stop turning up at the Malaysia Airlines office.

"They didn't ask how we are. Instead, I was hauled into the police station for eight hours. Though they didn't do anything, it hurt me emotionally, Zhang, who lost both her daughter and son-in-law on the plane.

Channel News Asia said that the Chinese media has also stopped reporting on the family members who are struggling to get their voices heard. For Dai, she is not seeking money. She wants the truth. "I'm already half of who I was before. But even if one day, I can no longer walk, or can no longer afford the bus fare to get to the MAS office, I will still crawl here to demand answers," she said.

Search On 2.0 for MH370

Posted by Babyboss Michael Sin on Saturday, 5 March 2016