Malaysia to resume MH370 hunt five years on

A relative carries copies of the official report on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 in Beijing on August 3, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 04 March 2019

Malaysia to resume MH370 hunt five years on

  • Ocean Infinity mounted a “no cure, no fee” search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean in January 2018
  • But search ended in May without any clue on where it could have crashed

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s transport minister said Sunday that the government is open to new proposals from US technology firm Ocean Infinity or any other companies to resume the hunt for Flight 370, as families of passengers marked the fifth anniversary of the jet’s mysterious disappearance.
Ocean Infinity mounted a “no cure, no fee” search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean in January 2018 that ended in May without any clue on where it could have crashed. But the company’s CEO, Oliver Plunkett, said in a video shown at the public remembrance event at a mall near Kuala Lumpur that the company hopes to resume the hunt with better technology it obtained in the past year.
The Ocean Infinity mission came a year after an official search by Malaysia, Australia and China ended in futility.
Plunkett said his company has better technology now after successfully locating an Argentinian submarine in November, a year after it went missing. He said the firm is still reviewing all possible data on Flight 370 and thinking about how it can revive its failed mission.
“We haven’t given up hope ... We hope we can continue the search in due course,” Plunkett said.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said it’s been frustrating that the two searches failed to produce any clues and that he “welcomes credible leads and also concrete proposals to resume the search.”
He told reporters later Sunday that the government is “waiting for specific proposals, in particular from Ocean Infinity.” He brushed off suggestions of offering rewards to find the plane, but said the government is willing to discuss proposals from any companies prepared to resume the search.
“There must be a proposal from a specific company ... we cannot just be out there without credible leads. That’s the most practical thing to do,” Loke said.
The plane vanished with 239 people on board on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Confirmed debris that washed ashore in the western Indian Ocean helped narrow the search area where Ocean Infinity focused, but it failed to uncover any evidence.
A Malaysian-led independent investigation report released last July showed lapses in the government’s response and raised the possibility of “intervention by a third party.”
Investigators, however, said the cause of the disappearance cannot be determined until the wreckage and the plane’s black boxes are found. The report reiterated Malaysia’s assertion that the plane was deliberately diverted and flown for over seven hours after severing communications.
But it said there was no evidence of abnormal behavior or stress in the two pilots that could lead them to hijack the plane. All the other passengers were also cleared by police and had no pilot training.
Voice 370, a support group for next-of-kin, expressed hope that the new government that won a general election in May last year will do more to encourage search missions and seek new clues.
The group’s spokeswoman, Grace Nathan, urged the government to set aside up to $70 million — the amount it agreed to pay Ocean Infinity had it found the plane — to encourage exploration companies to take on “no cure, no fee” missions so that Flight 370’s passengers will not have died in vain.
“It is a wound that cannot heal” if there is no closure, Nathan said.
Another family member, K.S. Narendran from India, said the burden is on the government to be proactive and not wait for credible evidence to fall on its lap. He said there has been no government effort to find more debris on African beaches and Indian Ocean islands, where scattered pieces of the Boeing 777 have been found.
During the remembrance event, family members lit candles and sang songs in tribute to their loved ones. Relatives and supporters wore light blue T-shirts that read, “It’s not history, it’s the future. Fly safely,” as they reminded the government that the mystery must be solved to ensure aviation safety.


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.