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Int'l panel proposed to prove transparency
Published:  Apr 16, 2014 4:00 PM
Updated: 2:29 PM

The Transport Ministry has proposed to the cabinet that an international expert panel of inquiry be formed to look into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH370 to prove that Malaysia is transparent.

"The cabinet will be discussing a paper with regard to an expert panel of inquiry that is going to be set up as part of the ongoing process of transparency to show the world that Malaysia has nothing to hide ...,” acting Transport Minister Hishammudin Hussein told reporters today.

"We are forming a panel of inquiry consisting of experts from around the world ... who are respected, credible and who will make decisions and investigate without fear or favour. That is important for the world to know in moving forward.”

He said this is separate from the three panels headed by deputy ministers in dealing with next-of-kin, technical matters and assets.

Speaking at the Defence Services Asia exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, he said the cabinet will decide the size of the panel and make an announcement in due time.

He later clarified through his Twitter account that the paper will only be discussed by the cabinet next week.

The panels, including the new independent inquiry, will run parallel to the search for the aircraft which entered its 40th day today.

“Parallel arrangements on the law, on the committees and on the experts have been going on and I'm very proud to say these committees have had many, many meetings, every day. We have done (so) quietly without fanfare,” he said at the press conference.

Malaysia, he assured, will not scale back its efforts in looking for the jetliner, but admits that other nations assisting in the search may want to do so.

In such an event, he said, other countries including those from the Middle East, have offered help, although many do not have the assets to assist physically.

“We have to find the means (by which) they can begin to assist, so the 26 countries that started on this journey can be increased to a lot more, when we move to next phase ...,” he said.

Nuri to be replaced

On a separate matter, Hishammudin said a draft agreement is being drawn up between Malaysia and China for defence cooperation.

It will likely be signed when Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak visits China to commemorate 40 years of bilateral diplomatic relations.  

Asked about Malaysia's replacement of Nuri helicopters with EC725, Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, said he did not have the details in hand, other than that a documentary will be filmed on the process.  

“ ... But what is important to me as far as the Nuris are concerned (is that) the first purchase of the Nuri was done in my father's time when he was defence minister.

“At that time we could only afford five units and military put up an argument that they needed more. My father found creative ways to fulfill the request of the military ...

“It is something that is part of history and legacy that comes not only from the present leadership but from the father's time.”

Hishammuddin's father, Hussein Onn, was third prime minister.

Hishammuddin signed RM1.86 billion worth of deals at the DSA today with 16 local and four foreign companies.

This includes the co-production, supply and distribution of military vehicles for the armed forces and enforcement agencies by AM General, in cooperation with DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd.

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