When Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down by a missile over the troubled eastern region of Ukraine, fingers were all too readily pointing at the rebel forces of Ukraine and by extension, the rebels’ benefactor and backer, Russia, laying the blame squarely at their feet.
It needs, however, to be pointed out that it is always convenient, as per human nature, to point fingers at any one party when something like in the case of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17, a passenger plane, a non-combatant and that belonging to a country not at all involved in the squabble, happens. And in most cases, in which direction the finger is pointed is dependent upon which side of the fence the parties are sided.
It is therefore very heartening and a very proud moment when the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Najib, despite the sad and heart wrenching situation that is Malaysia Airlines MH17, the Prime Minister had kept his cool and states Malaysia’s stance for clear-cut and definite evidence before laying the blame for Malaysia Airlines MH17 on any one party.
Not only the Prime Minister reminded every one of the priorities at hand but also of Malaysia’s rights and stand in the whole affair ie Malaysia MUST be involved in every aspect and facet of the investigation. Nothing BUT.
Malaysia’s insistence of being involved in every aspect and facet of the investigation is not an attempt to politicize the shooting down of MH17 but rather, can be seen as not only an effort to gain expertise and knowledge in areas that Malaysia is lacking but also as an attempt to remind the whole world that the passenger plane that was shot down is Malaysian, some of the passengers were Malaysian and the crew was definitely Malaysian. Therefore, Malaysia has the right to have its views and its opinions heard and not be drowned by the clamouring of other parties pursuing an agenda.
Malaysia’s stance on wanting clear and irrefutable evidence on who did what to Malaysia Airlines MH17 is consistent with Malaysia’s foreign policy and its time-honoured practices. It must be remembered that human nature dictates that NOBODY wants to be blamed for doing a bad deed especially when they are not guilty of the deed. That is until and unless there is clear and irrefutable evidence to the contrary.
However, when Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down, so fast were the fingers pointing at the rebel forces of Ukraine and Russia, and followed equally fast by threats of military actions and economic sanctions, the fact that the plane that was shot down was a Malaysian passenger plane was somehow overlooked, with Malaysia’s rights and concerns with regards to the whole episode given scant recognition. In short, Malaysia’s role in the aftermath of the shooting down of MH17 was in danger of being ‘hijacked’.
Statement after statement were released, by the US and the EU threatening this and threatening that, that the most basic of legal practice in both the US and the Commonwealth in that you are presumed innocent until you have been proven guilty, beyond any reasonable doubt, was somehow forgotten.
However, in saying that, PLEASE do not assume that this post is saying that the rebel forces and Russia are innocent BUT what this post is saying is that, to put blame on anybody, a thorough investigation has to be carried out and irrefutable evidence must be adduced. Otherwise, we are not practising what we preach.
In the aftermath of the shooting down of MH17, like it or not, Malaysia has shown that it can take the lead and that Malaysia still recognizes what the priorities are, of which first and foremost, was to recover all the remains of the passengers and crew of MH17, and to treat the remains with the respect and dignity that any human being, of whatever faith or religious belief, demands.
Once the remains have all been recovered, then comes the technicalities of a proper, competent and thorough investigation which, considering the complexities of the situation surrounding the shooting down of MH17, must not only be fair but must also be seen to be fair.
All manner of evidence must be collected and submitted for proper and thorough analysis by not only the most competent of authorities but also authorities that are above reproach. This is of utmost importance as the findings must not and should not be viewed with suspicions, otherwise any follow-up actions in connection with the shooting down of MH17 will be and always be disputed.
But to ensure that justice is done especially to the victims and their families they left behind, if that is what needs to be done, then so be it. Malaysia does not need a ‘hijacking’ to add to the pain and sorrow from the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
As its is now, the remains of some of the Malaysians on board that ill-fated flight will arrive in Malaysia on August 22, already declared a national day of mourning. As more and more remains gets identified and returned home, a closure of sorts will come for the families of MH17. Albeit slowly.
But that will not bring the curtain down for Malaysia just yet. The curtains will only be brought down once Malaysia Airlines MH370 has been recovered and the mystery surrounding its disappearance sorted out.
Til then, and only til then, will closure will finally come. Not only for the families but for all Malaysians and this land of ours we call Malaysia.