Saturday, Apr 25, 2015Saturday, Apr 25, 2015

More than half of Malaysians feel government is hiding information on MH370, poll shows

Published on Apr 14, 2014 9:40 AM
Malaysian Minister of Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (centre) answers questions as he provides an update on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 during the 14th Defence Services Asia Exhibition & Conference at the Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur on April 13, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - More than half of Malaysians believe that government has been hiding information about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370's disappearance, according to a new survey by a Malaysian paper.

Out of the 1,029 respondents polled last month in The Malaysian Insider survey carried out by the Merdeka Center, 54 per cent said the government was not transparent in releasing information about flight MH370 which vanished on March 8.

In response to the question whether they thought Putrajaya had been truthful or had been hiding anything about MH370, 54 per cent of respondents felt Malaysia had been hiding information, 26 per cent said the government had been truthful while 20 per cent were unsure.

Ever since the Malaysia Airlines jetliner disappeared on March 8, this allegation has been made on numerous occasions by Chinese relatives of the 227 passengers on board the Boeing 777-200ER jetliner.

And more than five weeks after the plane disappeared, it appears that Malaysians are also inclined to believe that Putrajaya has not been forthcoming with information about the flight, Malaysian Insider reported.

Once again, Chinese respondents were almost unanimous in giving the thumbs down to the Barisan Nasional federal government.

The poll figures showed that the slight majority of Indian and Malay respondents, too, believed Putrajaya had been hiding information.

This time, respondents from both rural and urban areas were united in believing that Putrajaya has been less than forthcoming with information about MH370.

Respondents were selected through random stratified sampling methods along the lines of ethnicity, gender and age, and covered all the federal seats in the peninsula.

The survey was carried out from March 24 to 30 with the selection of respondents proportional to the population in each parliamentary constituency.

On the performance of Malaysian ministers in the MH370 crisis, 21 per cent of the respondents said they were very dissatisfied while 19 per cent were very satisfied.

Despite the criticism Putrajaya has faced from local and international quarters since the MH370 crisis, 51 per cent of respondents said they were confident about the government.

However, 45 per cent of respondents said they were not confident about Putrajaya post-MH370 crisis.

The respondents were asked whether the performance of Putrajaya in handling the MH370 crisis has made them more or less confident about the government.

Within days of MH370's disappearance, China's Foreign Ministry had urged Malaysia to speed up its investigations and provide more accurate information.

However, China's criticism of Malaysia's investigation into MH370 also unleashed an ugly bout of nationalism.

Anger at Malaysia's handling of the investigation erupted on Chinese social media, and even on the streets with demonstrations outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency complained of an "unforgivable" lack of capacity, effort or transparency on the part of Putrajaya.

The adjective "Malaysian" became a popular byword for irresponsibility and unreliability; Malaysian singers of Chinese descent were abused online.

After Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that MH370 ended its flight in the southern Indian Ocean, family members and relatives in Beijing snapped.

Grief-stricken and angry over what they called two weeks of "lies and misleading information" after MH370 disappeared, family members marched to the Malaysian embassy.

They carried placards bearing the words "Malaysia Airlines, you owe us an explanation", "Corrupt Malaysian government" and "Mom, please come home".

Another bone of contention has been a CNN report on Thursday quoting an unnamed senior Malaysian government official as saying that the air force had scrambled search at 8am on March 8 soon after MH370 was reported missing.

Both acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the Royal Malaysian Air Force chief have denied the report. However, CNN said it was standing by the report.