Govt open to new leads with MH370 report

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook (picture) said the government is open to any new leads that may arise from the release of the MH370 report in July.

The search operation to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) flight has come to an inconclusive end, after the latest survey by US-based Ocean Infinity Ltd concluded on May 29.

Loke said the entire four-year search for the aircraft, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, had cost RM500 million, with an additional US$70 million (RM279.35 million) promised, if Ocean Infinity succeeded in its underwater search operation. A total area of 112,000 sq km had been covered.

The ministry has urged the safety investigation team for MH370 — comprising 19 accredited representatives from seven countries — to finalise its report.

Once completed, families of the 239 passengers and crew on board flight MH370 will be briefed and given first access to the report.

“We will make the information public to all. If there are relevant parties who feel they have evidence to trace the whereabouts of the plan, then we are open to revisit the case,” Loke told reporters at a briefing in Putrajaya yesterday.

“I wish to reiterate that the aspiration to locate MH370 will never be abandoned and we remain ever hopeful that we will be able to find the answers we seek and new information will come to light and that some point in the future, the aircraft will be located,” he said.

Loke added that compensation for the families will be handled by MAB.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier commented that the government will consider resuming the search if new evidence is found, but at the moment it must stop.

“We regret it very much, and we understand the feelings of the relatives, but we cannot keep on searching for MH370 forever.

“We have come to a stage where we cannot keep searching for something we cannot find,” he said.

On a separate note, Loke stressed that the status of the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) remains secured at the moment — despite criticisms of the nature of its funding and the RM85,000 monthly salary paid to its chairman.

“There is no plan to abolish Mavcom at the moment, and yes the salary of the chairman is higher than what the prime minister receives.

“The chief secretary has been directed to review the salaries of all chairmen of security bodies, commissions and government-linked companies,” he said.

Speculation was rife that Mavcom would suffer a similar fate as the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), which was forced to shut down after Dr Mahathir announced that agencies with duplicate roles will be disbanded.

Loke confirmed that SPAD chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad had submitted his resignation letter on Monday and his appointment has been terminated with immediate effect