PONTIAN - When the remains of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 victims touch down this Friday for the country to bid its final farewell, the step-grandmother of Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein will not be among them.
"The remains of my step-grandmother Siti Amirah are not among those of the 15 Malaysians who will be brought home on Friday," Hishammuddin said, adding that six were Muslims while the other nine were non-Muslims.
Puan Sri Siti Amirah Kusuma, 83, was among the 298 passengers and crew on board the MH17 who perished when the plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17.
Siti Amirah was once married to Tan Sri Mohammad Noah Omar as his second wife. Noah, who passed away in 1990, was the grandfather of both Hishammuddin and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The remains of a Dutch victim, added Hishammuddin, would also be on the flight as the next of kin had requested for the deceased to be buried in Malaysia.
The world, he added, would be watching Malaysia as the country bid its final farewell to the victims of MH17 upon the arrival of the remains from the Netherlands.
"All Malaysians should show their solidarity by giving the victims their dignified respect that day. We want to assure their families that they are not alone and that Malaysia is grieving together with them,'' he told reporters here on Saturday.
Hishammuddin, who is also Umno vice-president, had earlier opened the Tanjung Piai Umno division meeting at Kolej Matrikulasi Teknikal Pontian here.
He also expressed his hope for all Malaysians to observe a minute of silence upon the coffins' arrival at the Bunga Raya Complex of the KL International Airport at 10am for the ceremony.
Once the ceremony is over, the remains, he added, would be flown on two RMAF Charlie aircraft to Kuching and five Nuri helicopters to other states in the peninsula.
On another matter, Hishammuddin said he would be travelling to Perth in the next one or two weeks to oversee the MH370 search operation in the South Indian Ocean.
"Search for the missing aircraft in the South Indian Ocean will continue as long as it takes and we are not giving up until we find it," he said.