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Ensure murder in sky culprits severely punished

COMMENT We live in a time of crisis and bold and precise leadership is needed.

The tears have not dried over MH370 and now the world is reeling in shock after news of the downing of MH317.

It is not another cold statistic of a tragic air crash but a heart-wrenching experience even though we have no friends or relatives involved, as I look at the photos of some of the 289 victims published on social media.

The faces of people bring alive the reality of their loss that cold statistics don't. Behind every face is a heart-stirring story.

The tragic demise of MH 17 is more poignant than MH 370 that is still lost in mystery.

We know all on board the ill-fated flight MH 17 are dead - we see news footage of the wreckage and have confirmed reports of the air disaster. There is irrefutable evidence.

We still hope against hope those on MH370 may be alive because seeing is believing for many and especially with so many 'theories' on what might have happened to it.

The photos of the passengers from different countries on MH 17 make one feel a sense of disbelief they are dead.

A young Dutch girl, a happy snapshot of an entire Malay family returning home after an overseas posting, doctors and health-experts on their way to an AIDS-related conference , a loving couple on holiday and so on.

They are faces of people we meet in our travels, in our everyday life and there was no sense of foreboding MH 17 would reach a fiery end as the last live video was seen in an Instagram sent by a passenger to a loved one at home.

Political rhetoric will not bring home the lost ones or give them justice.

Their untimely deaths demand bold and precise action by the Malaysian government as the plane belongs to its national carrier.

It is the time to show the world what Malaysians are made of after the debacle of MH 370's aftermath.

Australians ahead

In contrast, the Australians appear ahead of the countries that lost citizens on the plane.

The Australian foreign minister has left Australia on a mission to seek a UN resolution on the tragic shooting down of a civilian airliner. They have special teams and a federal police task force on the way to the crash scene.

They have acted swiftly.

While others are still talking and making vain threats the Australians are taking positive action and are on the move.

If anyone can make any sense of how the plane was brought down, the Australians will get to the bottom of it. They are trained and they are professional.

This is what we expect of a first-class developed country and Australia has risen to the occasion and is instrumental in leading the search for MH370.

No doubt Malaysia will respond more decisively and the need for the best people to do the important jobs in a crisis of international implications reminds the country to have the best people selected on capability on board.

Its response must be two-prong as in the Australian response - political and practical.

The government must seek justice for MAS and all its lost passengers on MH 17 by getting the culprits behind the massacre of innocent lives to account for their despicable act of murder in the sky.

This will require bold and determined action.

The finger of blame hones in on Russia that has sponsored separatists in Ukraine, who remain the prime suspects in the terrorist and cowardly destruction of MH17.

Whether it was a rogue group, genuine mistake or calculated tactic to bring down a civilian aircraft, those who fired the missile must be brought to pay for their cowardly and heartless murder of so many innocent lives.

The practical response is simpler.

The government must quickly bring home the identified Malaysians so loved ones may mourn and bury their dead. Malaysia must send its own team of investigators to the crash site and make its own findings.

It must be seen as a responsive and competent country.

Flight safety surcharge

There are criticisms, perhaps justifiable, of bad judgment in MAS using the route deemed safe by IATA.

Why was due care not a higher priority than any other consideration especially over economic ones?

It was foolhardy to take a 'safe route' because there is no precedent to declare any troubled zone safe.

 And the demise of MH17 proves the point.

I suggest airlines like MAS impose a temporary 'flight safety' surcharge for flights that have to be re-routed away from 'danger zones' due to war and conflict.

I would prefer to pay a few hundred ringgit to fly safe than die in a terrorist attack because the airlines did not give me that option to be away from potentially dangerous routes.

In the wake of two disasters in a short space of time the airlines industry needs to clean up its act if not make those vital improvements and not stay complacent.

In fact airlines should be compelled to publish flight risks information so passengers will be better informed if they should choose safer alternatives.

Necessity is the mother of invention and flight risks from conflicts should be taken more seriously in the light of this new threat to travel safety.

Will we be safe at all now if countries are allowed to sell weapons that can take down a plane from anywhere in the sky?

IATA may have to explain how it decides any route is safe when they cannot guarantee the safety of the flights over the dangerous areas.

Guilty ones must pay price

Those who deemed it safe will have their explaining to do but one crucial fact remains.

The fault lies not with MAS or IATA though they will be criticised, blamed and face possible litigation and public enquiries.

The one who pulled the trigger, the one who gave the order, the one with murderous intent, those who were directly responsible for the destruction of MH17 are the guilty ones and they must not be allowed to go scot-free.

The blame for the demise of MH17 lies with the murderers.

When we speak in this vein of bringing murderers outside our borders to justice we can't neglect the murderers within our own borders, murderers who have inflicted as much pain on their victims and those close to them.

In this manner, I think of Altantuya Shaaribuu ( left ), Teoh Beng Hock, A Kugan and many others whose tragic deaths have not seen their murderers brought to justice.

We who want justice must be seen as consistently just and equally determined to see all murderers brought to justice.

We need to pinpoint not only the perpetrator but the mastermind on whom must lie the ultimate blame as with MH17.

We can't rely on hearsay, false accusations, suspicions or some other unscientific basis but the hard evidence.

Those who have acted suspiciously, obstruct open investigations and other questionable acts as if to hide or tamper with the evidence, should be seen as highly suspect.

Murderers must all be brought to justice.

So too must the Abu Sayyaf murderers that were seen in a graphic video slitting the throats and then hacking off the heads of their tied-up captives as if they were some animal in a slaughter-house.

I found the video so revolting I did not want to watch the rest of it after seeing two captives being butchered in this horrific and barbaric manner.

Malaysia must not relent in seeking justice and going after the culprits behind the destruction of MH 17.

Likewise the same determination and openness must be seen in resolving the questions unanswered and mystery of missing MH 370 and its domestic murders of much public concern.

In the pursuit of justice, not selective justice, all Malaysians can be counted to stand behind the country's leaders who must display bold and precise leadership.

There is no safeguard against murder but our earnest resolve and relentless pursuit of those who commit murder must be bold and precise.

Our hearts go out to all the families of the victims of MH17. Our prayers are for the guilty to be brought before human justice for they will surely not be able to evade divine punishment.


STEVE OH is the author of the novel Tiger King of the Golden Jungle and composer of the musical of the same title. He believes in good governance and morally upright leadership.

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