Missing MH370: Poor start for crowd-funding effort

Missing MH370: Poor start for crowd-funding effort

Organisers of the Reward MH370 crowd-funding effort say they are pressing on despite the lacklustre response to the campaign so far.

In the five days since it was launched on June 8, just over US$30,000 (S$37,000) has been raised.

Ms Sarah Bajc, partner of American passenger Philip Wood, tells The Straits Times that though the results have not been up to their expectations, it is still doing better than most other crowd-funding efforts.

"We are trying to re-gear some of our efforts to see if we can drive a higher response from people," says the teacher who works in Beijing.

She is one of five family members - two Indians, one American, one French and one New Zealander - involved in launching the Indiegogo campaign to raise US$5 million as a reward to any whistle-blower who can come forward with evidence of where the missing plane might be.

The Malaysia Airlines plane lost radio contact on March 8 as it was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 people on board. It is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Ms Bajc says the team will strive to get more media coverage for the campaign.

She also says they hope to refine some of the links to make it easier to donate: "People who have not donated through Indiegogo before, they don't quite understand the process, so we want to provide a little bit more support for that."

They hope the money will entice someone to come forward with concrete evidence on the location of the plane, such as the coordinates of where it can be found, or a screenshot of a confidential e-mail that has evidence of the plane's whereabouts.

Tomorrow, they intend to launch a website where those with information on the missing aircraft can submit their leads.

Ms Bajc says the governance committee will take turns to go through the submitted evidence and pass the top leads over to a private investigator that they will appoint.

Asked why there are no Chinese or Malaysian families involved in this effort, she says they are actively involved in the background but are not putting their names to it because they have been "pressured to shut up".

Ms Bajc adds that she does not believe "the plane is in the ocean in the place they say it is", citing especially the lack of wreckage.

She does, however, believe that there are people out there who have information and have yet to step forward because they are afraid to lose their jobs or confront the authorities.

Now, she thinks they will have the platform and motivation to do so.

"We need the money to fund a reward and private investigation," says Ms Bajc. "Without that, the mystery may never be solved and, if the mystery isn't solved, it could happen again."

simlinoi@sph.com.sg

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