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Missing MH370: Day 6 and media circus in Malaysia shows few signs of relenting

Published on Mar 13, 2014 9:56 PM
 
Reporters adjust their microphones in expectation of a news conference to be given by Malaysian officials about the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

THE mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been grabbing news headlines around the world since the plane lost contact with ground control early last Saturday.

Within the first 24 hours, dozens of journalists and TV crews from across the globe had flown into Kuala Lumpur in search of news developments at daily press conferences as well as exclusive stories.

The Boeing 777 carrying 239 passengers and crew on board went missing about 50 minutes after take off early on Saturday.

Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) said earlier the last recorded location of the Beijing- bound flight, which took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 12.41am, was about 160km from Kota Baru, Kelantan.

The DCA-chaired press conference on Thursday at Sama-Sama Hotel at KLIA was attended by media professionals from 64 international news organisations and 34 local news agencies.

Foreign media organisations include CNN, BBC News, USA Today, Fuji TV, CNBC, ABC News, NBC News, Metro TV Indonesia, China’s CCTV, TBS Bangkok, France 2 and Vietnam Television.

A journalist from Poland told The Straits Times: “This is the 21st century. How can a big jet with 239 people on board just disappear? This is world news.”

The journalist, who declined to be named, writes for a German news agency and was in Bangkok recently to cover the anti-government protests.

Agreeing, Malaysia’s Oriental Daily photojournalist Tan Wei Khang, 35 said: “Usually it’s big events like general elections or political demonstrations that attract such global attention.

“But with over 200 passengers from 14 nations on the fateful flight, it is inevitable the news would attract the interest of the many countries where these passengers are from, especially China.”

The 153 Chinese nationals on MH370 make up the biggest group.

Mr Tan noted the increasing scrutiny that Malaysia has come under as the massive search ended its sixth day on Thursday with still no clue about where the plane is.

The daily press conferences have been intense affairs as journalists jostled to bombard the Malaysian authorities with tough questions.

Asked if local media had taken a back seat in questioning the authorities, who included acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Ms Tiu E Laine, 27, a broadcast journalist with kinitv, said: “I don’t think so. I saw local journalists seated in the front row trying to ask questions, but the authorities chose to answer the questions from the foreign media.”

joycel@sph.com.sg

 

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