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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: 'I'll be back in a week for sister's birthday': Petronas manager's final words to father

Published on Mar 9, 2014 2:05 PM
 
Security guard Subramaniam Gurusamy, 59, at the Everly Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday where victims' families were being readied to board planes to an undisclosed location, most likely Vietnam. Mr Subramaniam's 34-year-old son Puspanathan, a Petronas marketing manager was on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that went missing on Saturday. -- ST PHOTO: LESTER KONG

"I'll be back in a week. Then we can cut cake together for sister's birthday, appa (father in Tamil)."

These were Petronas marketing manager Puspanathan Subramaniam's final words to his father before boarding the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The 34-year-old, who travelled frequently for work, was the only son and pride of security guard Subramaniam Gurusamy, 59, who tearfully recounted on Sunday how he scrimped for years to pay RM1,500 (S$584) per term to see his son through college.

"Now, it's all for nothing," he told reporters gathered at the Everly Hotel here where victims' families were being readied to board planes to an undisclosed location, most likely Vietnam.

"Today is my daughter's birthday and this happened," he said.

His son, he said, was the first of three generations to get a "proper job". He himself and his father were born and raised in poverty in a rubber estate, he said.

"We planted a tree and thought we will enjoy the fruit of our labour. I don't know what to do now," he said.

Mr Gurusamy and his son's father-in-law along with dozens of distraught family members of the passengers aboard the missing plane are waiting to be taken to Kuala Lumpur International Airport once immigration procedures are cleared.

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control 50 minutes after departing KLIA at 12.41am on Saturday.

It was due to land in Beijing at 6.30am, and had enough fuel to fly up to 8.30am. The plane did not issue a distress signal nor was there bad weather when it disappeared.

Its last approximate position was 120 nautical miles off Kota Baru, in the South China Sea, in the airspace bordering Vietnam. Malaysian air traffic control had just handed over control to the Vietnamese authorities when they lost contact.

The flight was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew - comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants) and 12 crew members.

There were 15 nationalities on board, the majority Chinese nationals and Malaysians. No Singaporeans were on board.

The Everly Hotel is a hive of activity with Malaysia Airlines and other disaster response volunteers consoling the families of MH370 passengers. The media has been barred from most of the hotel where the families are gathered.

Most family members have avoided talking to media. Attempts to approach them are sometimes blocked by MAS staff.

Mr Ibrahim Abdul Razak, 75, regrets his son Mohamad Sofuan Ismail's decision to accept a posting to Beijing.

He said his son, Sofuan, 33, a diplomatic officer with Malaysia's Ministry of International Trade and Industry was to be posted last month for a three-year stint but the transfer was postponed.

"I can't do anything now but pray," said the soft-spoken Mr Ibrahim, a pensioner, when met at the hotel lobby.

lestkong@sph.com.sg

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