MH370 victims' families want deadline extended for lawsuits against Malaysia Airlines

A woman in Kuala Lumpur leaves a message of support for passengers of the missing MH370 flight.
A woman in Kuala Lumpur leaves a message of support for passengers of the missing MH370 flight.PHOTO: REUTERS

The families of those on board a Malaysia Airlines flight which vanished over the Indian Ocean two years ago have called for 60 more days to push their cases against the airline through courts before time runs out.

Voice370, the support group for the families, on Tuesday (Feb 23) criticised a move by Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the sole shareholder of MAS, last year to rebrand the national carrier as Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), calling it a "ploy to shield itself from liability of negligence or other claims".

Khazanah, Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund, appointed an administrator on May 25, 2015, to facilitate the transfer of selected assets and liabilities from MAS to MAB, which took over the business operations of the airline on Sept 1, 2015.

The Malaysian Airline System Berhad (Administration) Act 765, which came into force on Feb 20, 2015, states that a moratorium on any legal process against MAS and its subsidiaries shall take effect once an administrator has been appointed.

During the period of moratorium, "no proceedings and no execution or other legal process in any court or tribunal may be commenced or continued with... against the Administered Companies or their property except with the prior written consent of the Administrator".

The moratorium lasts for a maximum of two years.

"When the administration and moratorium end, all monies, assets and business of MAS would most likely be transferred to the new legal entity MAB. Therefore there will be nothing left in MAS when (the) said moratorium ends, making it pointless to sue them," Voice370 said in a statement released to the media.

On March 8, 2014, Flight MH370 shocked the world when it disappeared mysteriously with 239 people on board while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Other than a barnacle-encrusted wing flap which washed up on Reunion Island thousands of kilometres from the search area in July 2015, multinational efforts combing the sea for two years have turned up nothing else so far.

Mr Martin Dolan, head of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, who has been heading the search had said the operation may end in June.

Voice370 said there are currently cases which have been filed against MAS by the next of kin and fears that all actions and cases before courts could stop after March 8 when the time period for them to take legal action lapses.

"We urge Malaysia and other relevant authorities to extend the time period for such claims/lawsuits beyond March 8th by at least 60 days," said the support group.

"Voice370 will not stand by this injustice silently. The search must go on and when the facts are known, the companies and individuals responsible for the loss of MH370 must be brought to justice," it added.