MH370: Victims’ Chinese kin ask to meet Mahathir

BEIJING • The Chinese relatives of those on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have asked to meet Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad when he visits China this week.

Amid a heavy police presence, about a dozen relatives yesterday gathered outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, where they handed over a letter addressed to the Malaysian government.

“We ask that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir, or other representatives (of the Malaysian government), meet with Chinese relatives of those on board MH370 during the official visit,” the letter said.

A similar letter was also given to China’s Foreign Ministry.

Tun Dr Mahathir will arrive in China today for a five-day visit, and will hold a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang next Monday.

The plane disappeared in March 2014 while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The 239 people on board were mostly from China.

The relatives have also requested resuming the search, a monthly meeting with airline and Malaysian officials, as well as for investigators to thoroughly explain the recent investigation report.

“We’re holding out hope that on this visit to China, Dr Mahathir can quickly resolve the issue with MH370,” said Ms Gu Xiufang, whose son and his family were on the plane. “We don’t know anything about the situation. Our lives have stopped since March 8, 2014,” she said.

The relatives earlier this month expressed frustration that the long-awaited official report – running to about 1,500 pages in total – had no new clues about the missing plane and was not translated into Chinese. The investigation team wrote that it was unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance of the plane.

The vanished plane sparked the largest hunt in aviation history, but no trace of the jet was found in a 120,000 sq km Indian Ocean search zone.

The Australian-led hunt was suspended in January last year.

United States exploration firm Ocean Infinity resumed the search in a different location at the start of this year on a “no find, no fee” basis, using high-tech drones to scour the seabed.

The private search was called off after it, too, failed to find any trace of the plane, but Dr Mahathir said the search could resume if new evidence emerged.

Only three confirmed MH370 fragments have been found, and all of them washed up on shores in the western Indian Ocean.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2018, with the headline 'MH370: Victims’ Chinese kin ask to meet Mahathir'. Print Edition | Subscribe