English World

The final homecoming


JUST over a month has passed before the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH17 — shot down over eastern Ukraine killing all 298 passengers and crew on board — can be brought home.

To date, the remains of 25 Malaysian nationals have been identified and a total of 15 bodies will arrive on Aug 22 to be received at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s VIP Bunga Raya complex. Meanwhile, the government is coordinating arrangements in consultation with the affected families to ensure that no sensitivities at such a sad moment are trampled over haphazardly.

However, while burial may bring some closure, that the persons responsible for this terrible tragedy are yet to be revealed must surely leave a measure of dissatisfaction as far as loved ones are concerned.

The geopolitics enveloping the tragic incident is certainly complicating matters, making for unnecessary delays, what with the accusations and counter-accusations, claims and counter-claims from Washington and Moscow respectively as to whose proxy is responsible.

Pity the families and friends who must bear the brunt of this politicking by major world powers facing off one another at their expense.

Although the MH17 tragedy is incidental to the larger picture of the Ukraine and Crimea, the civil war in the former — the war zone over which MH17 was diverted to — has meant that the international team of investigators has not been able to comb through the crash site at will.

Headed by the Dutch, who had 192 nationals on board the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight, the team expects to return to the site again soon to resume its work. A preliminary report is expected in a few weeks.

It will be based on available sources, including the cockpit flight recorders, flight data recorders (black boxes), radar details and information from air-traffic controllers.

According to the Dutch, this will shed light on what happened. Who did it, though, is not the purview of this report.

As to those victims coming home for their final rest, a day of national mourning awaits when a country in shock will do all it can to empathise with the hard-to-imagine pain of bereavement; a cruel fate.

But even while the nation mourns the lives lost on MH17, it cannot but think of flight MH370, which went missing and with it 239 passengers and crew.

Still a mystery and proving to be the airline industry’s biggest one yet, nothing has surfaced to bring the answer nearer. For these families, there can be no closure until such time as some indication of what happened surfaces.

The year 2014 is turning out to be when Malaysia, this land of peace and plenty, matures and innocence is forever lost.

Within that existential framework, the country will soon celebrate 57 years of independence albeit much muted as a show of respect to the Malaysians lost in MH370 and perished on MH17.


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