Malaysia Airlines MH370: Hard for families to let go

Relatives of a passenger on missing Flight MH370 at the DCA office in Putrajaya. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Relatives of a passenger on missing Flight MH370 at the DCA office in Putrajaya. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK)- It has been 327 days since they lost their loved ones, but they are still finding it tough to let go.

They want to move on but the lack of physical evidence of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane makes it hard for them to have closure.

Retiree Selamat Omar, 61, the father of passenger Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat, said that despite having waited nearly a year, they were no closer to getting any information about the plane.

"I know I have to move on from here, and I will, but I wish the authorities had kept the families more in the loop," he said.

Dr Ghouse Mohd Noor, a friend of MH370 pilot Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah, said that legally, the next of kin would have to accept the Department of Civil Aviation's (DCA) declaration.

"But I hope the search for the plane carries on. The search must go on for the sake of the families because they need closure. You can't get closure through legal terms," said Dr Ghouse, who is also Capt Zaharie's schoolmate.

Another friend, Peter Chong, said the DCA's statement was at least the "beginning of closure".

"The statement was very brave and it was responsible for them to do it," he said.

"It is a difficult statement to make, but at the end of the day, their main concern is the next of kin."

However, Chong said it was not right to presume that all 239 passengers and crew lost their lives.

"I do not think it is right to declare that the crew and passengers are dead. It is sensitive for them (families)," he said, adding that the DCA's assurance that the search would go on was very important for the families.

For 10 months now, Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of in-flight supervisor Patrick Gomes, has been a rock to her family and the crew's next of kin.

However, the "Boss" - as she was lovingly referred to - found the DCA's announcement that all those onboard were presumed dead too much to bear.

"They can declare my husband dead but I can't. I can't give up on him," said a teary Gonzales.

"We should have been informed first," said Gonzales, who had earlier gate-crashed DCA's planned press conference at its headquarters in Putrajaya.

"We are the next of kin. Shouldn't we have known first and not through television? How can they make a declaration like this? Have they found the plane?" she cried, burying her face in her hands.

Elaine Chew, wife of steward Tan Size Hiang, said she, too, could not accept the announcement.

"How can I explain this to my daughter?" she asked.

Mohamad Shahril Shaari, the cousin of passenger Mohammad Razahan Zamani, said his family would not seek compensation without proof.

"None of us has been asking for compensation. We just want to know where our loved ones are and why they are gone," he said.

Voice370, a group of family members of mostly Chinese MH370 passengers, acknowledged that they felt "powerless".

"We can only appeal for compassion and understanding. What we appeal for is assurance from the Chinese, Malaysian and Australian authorities that the search will not be abandoned anytime soon," it said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.