Unlawful interference not ruled out

Kok stressed the report is not final since the wreckage nor victims have been found

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN

THE MH370 safety investigation team led by Datuk Kok Soo Chon does not rule out “unlawful interference” in the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight, which claimed the lives of 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Kok said the plane did not have any major technical issues that could cause any catastrophic incidents in mid-air. He, however, confirmed that MH370 had manually diverted from its intended flight course.

“The turn back could not be attributed to an anomalous system,” said Kok.

“It has been established that the air turn back was done under manual control, not autopilot…we cannot exclude that there was an unlawful interference by a third party,” Kok said at a media briefing in Putrajaya yesterday.

Abdul Wahab Ibrahim (left) and Kok at the briefing in Putrajaya. MH370 was deemed to have manually diverted from its intended flight course. (pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL/TMR)

The report showed no new findings but it did, however, highlight several protocols and guidelines that were not followed, along with mistakes made by air traffic controllers.

The safety team, comprising accredited representatives from eight countries including the US, the UK, China, Australia, France, Singapore and Indonesia, released a 1,500page investigative report based on evidence gathered and data  analysed over the period of four years.

“We wanted to release the report after the first search ended on Jan 17 last year, but we were told to postpone it as Ocean Infinity Ltd was coming in. We cannot table the report while investigations were underway,” he said.

Kok also stressed that the report is not final, saying it would be presumptuous for the team to say so since neither the wreckage, nor victims have been found.

The report also dispelled concerns that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah or first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid had suffered any difficulties in their personal lives that would affect their professional judgement.

Endorsed by seven countries that were involved in the investigation, the report had angered the victims’ families as it failed to provide any concrete conclusions on the disappearance of the Boeing 777 or where its wreckage might be.

Four years on, the tragedy remains unresolved and appears to have no direction going forward.

Kok and his Malaysian team of investigators are expected to have a busy month ahead, with similar briefings to be conducted with the families of victims in Beijing on Aug 3.

On May 29, the Malaysian government called off the three-month search conducted by US firm Ocean Infinity, which spanned 112,000 sq km across the southern Indian Ocean and ended with no significant findings.

It was the second major search attempt after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a futile RM500 million search across an area of 120,000 sq km last year.