Cold, inept handling

As this is written, the relatives of the passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have been told by officials that the plane crashed in the southern part of the Indian Ocean and all aboard perished.

In yet another absurd twist in this story, a text from the government went out to those relatives with those sad details before the official announcement by the prime minister.

Imagine getting a cold, crisp text on your phone’s screen: “We have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived.”

No one knows what happened aboard that Boing 777 19 days ago, but to say Malaysian officials’ handling of the incident has been inept would be kind. When the plane’s transponders first quit working it was hours before Malaysia made any announcement to the world.

Days and resources were wasted searching north of the Malay Peninsula when military radar had already detected that the plane made a sweeping U-turn south.

The extent of how far south and off course the plane eventually went rests on data sent to a satellite monitoring the engines. The engines continued to operate for hours after Flight 370’s transponders went dark.

No parts of the plane have been recovered, no passenger’s remains have been spotted. Debris spotted by satellites in the Indian Ocean was to be more closely inspected by ships and aircraft as weather in the area abated. It is not certain the debris is part of the missing plane.

For now, though, relatives have been told to abandon all hope. The Malaysian government continues to dribble information out every couple of days in what seems a cold and heartless tone to those waiting on word – any word – about their loved ones.

It is a very good lesson for every government on how not to deal with a disaster.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.