MH370: Need for China to calm situation, strengthen bilateral ties

MH370: Need for China to calm situation, strengthen bilateral ties

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - China joining the chorus of protest against Malaysia over the MH370 crisis shows a worrying pattern in Chinese diplomacy, former Malaysia Airlines chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid said.

"It is being driven by populist sentiments. As if by doing so there will be less pressure on rights at home," he said.

He expressed fear that if the families' grief turns to anger and is not contained, it could lead to unpredictable consequences that would affect ties between both countries.

Dr Munir, who is CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (Cari) chairman, added: "While, in any tragedy, there is strong resistance to accepting loss of loved ones, closure will come but recovery will take longer."

He said the Chinese authorities had a responsibility of not joining in making unsubstantiated or wild allegations regarding Malaysia's management of the search for the missing plane.

"We have also to bear in mind the pronounced sense of loss in China because of its 'one-child policy', particularly when it involves an only son.

"The management of grief is a personal thing, but authorities in society have a role to help calm the situation, not make it worse," he said, referring to instances of families reacting aggressively towards Malaysian authorities.

Dr Munir said that even after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced on Monday that the flight had ended in the Indian Ocean, the Chinese families remained unconvinced.

Institute of Strategic and Inter-national Studies (Isis) Malaysia senior fellow Bunn Nagara said that while the majority of passengers on the flight were Chinese nationals, the feelings of sorrow were equal among families from other countries as well.

"The tragedy has affected families of various nationalities in equal terms, Malaysians included," he said.

He added that since more Chinese nationals were affected, the extent of their feelings seemed more profound compared to the others.

He suggested that the Chinese government played its part in handling the situation for the sake of bilateral ties between Malaysia and China.

"The Chinese government should clarify the situation to its affected citizens, as they are well aware of the difficult circumstances faced by Malaysia.

"Would they react differently if the circumstances are against them?" he asked.

Asked what the Malaysian authorities could do to appease them, Bunn said while Malaysian authorities and MAS had tried their best in assisting the affected families, the need for more people skills was required to set the record straight.

"I believe MAS and Malaysian authorities have done a fairly good job, given the circumstances. But further public relations efforts should be continued to ensure that all family and friends of the missing passengers are taken care of," he said.

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